RYEDALE Book Festival’s gets underway this weekend.

The impressive line-up for this weekend includes a programme of diverse events guaranteed to delight a range of readers of all ages, from history buffs and animal lovers to petrol heads and armchair travellers.

On Friday, the festival opens with a special event at the atmospheric Priory in Old Malton. Hear the true story of the Nine Days Queen, Lady Jane Grey, from historian Leanda de Lisle who will be joined by musician Chris Parsons of Eboracum Baroque performing trumpet fanfares to set the scene.

A fictitious account of Elizabeth’s rivals has been described in Philippa Gregory’s latest novel. This event is a chance to hear from the historian whose narrative has been described by Philippa Gregory as a “fascinating biography”.

The festival team has recently disclosed that Leanda’s lecture in Ryedale is going to recorded and broadcast via a number of history networks at the end of the year so anyone who fancies being part of a live audience for a future film should definitely not let this unique opportunity slip by.

Then, leaping forward from the Tudor court to the Regency era, Friday night also brings with it ‘Austentatious’ opening its autumn tour at The Milton Rooms.

Every show the cast, fresh from six sell-out runs at the Edinburgh Fringe, improvise a brand new ‘lost’ Jane Austen novel based on audience suggestions.

On Saturday, you can the remarkable true tale of a very special cat named Felix. Although she has a vital job to do as ‘Senior Pest Controller’ at Huddersfield Train Station, Felix is much more than an employee.

New anecdotes and photos will describe Felix’s arrival and impact at the station and how she has transformed the lives of her colleagues and commuters in surprising ways.

Festival trustee Sally Dobson said: “Unfortunately Felix cannot join us as she has duties in Huddersfield but there is a stamp of her paw print which has got to be the best way of personalising the best-selling paperback in her absence.”

On Saturday afternoon, Val Wood will be taking the audience on a tour of her books and the process of writing historical fiction. Since winning the Catherine Cookson Prize for Fiction for her first novel, The Hungry Tide, Val Wood has become one of the most popular authors in the UK and is an avid supporter of the libraries.

Fans of horse-racing are in for a treat with the chance to hear from international bestselling author Felix Francis, son of steeplechase jockey Dick Francis, at a special event held at Malton’s jockey rehabilitation centre, Jack Berry House.

Felix will be celebrating the release of his brand new thriller Pulse and after his talk the audience will be invited to join a short tour of JBH’s facilities.

This event’s proceeds will be shared between Ryedale Book Festival and the Injured Jockey’s Fund and is sponsored by trainer Brian Ellison.

An event with bestselling authors Susie Steiner (‘Missing, Presumed’) and Gail Honeyman (‘Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine’) is perfect for a book club outing and the Milton Rooms’ bar will be open(!), while events with Johnny Tipler, about how big-time commercial sponsorship has changed F1, and Rowland White, who will be investigating the maiden voyage of NASA's Space Shuttle Columbia, are great for readers who prefer fact to fiction.

As well as this diverse programme of adult events, there’s plenty for younger readers too. As an extra special treat the brand new Children’s Laureate, Lauren Child, is returning to Malton to introduce her brand new Charlie and Lola picture book in which Lola seeks out the perfect pet.

Silly, surprising, thoughtful and fun, Charlie and Lola are on top form in this fabulously funny story packed full of dogs of every shape, size and colour.

There will also be the chance to hear from ‘Spy Dog’ writer Andy Cope, author/illustrator Tim Hopgood and his new creation, Doodle Dogs, plus take part in a range of craft activities at Malton Methodist Church, biscuit decorating at the Kingfisher Café and ceramics at Peagreen Pottery.

Sarah Tyson, festival coordinator, said: “We are so lucky to have Lauren Child, now Children’s Laureate, return to Ryedale. Two years ago she impressed an audience of adults as well as children with her inspirational creativity and passion for imaginative ideas and we are thrilled to have her back.

"Our team has worked hard all year to organise a broad spectrum of events across Ryedale in some fantastic venues but we are looking forward to returning to Malton for our main weekend of activity this autumn.

"We are grateful to sponsors, venues and volunteers for making it happen – we hope everyone will find something that appeals to them.”

Throughout the festival all writers’ books can be purchased at the festival pop-up bookshop, run by Waterstones, and there will be the chance to have books signed at a number of signings during the weekend.

For information about all upcoming events and to buy tickets, go to http://ryedalebookfestival.com