AS THE Oxford Literary Festival draws to a close this weekend, organisers have said this year’s event has the potential to be one of the best ever.

Shows across the nine-day event have seen visitors and speakers from all over the world pack out venues.

Crowds have been inspired and organisers said they are on track to smash attendance records.

Festival special adviser Tony Byrne said the audiences have been fantastic.

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He said: “We will not know for definite until the the end of the festival but we are certainly doing as well as last year, and we have a big few days ahead.

“One of the things which is unique about the festival is that visitors get to see venues that are rarely open to the public.

“We have seen this year an increase in international speakers in the programme.”

On Sunday, visitors will flock to see the closing performance of Welcome To Wonderland, created to celebrate 150 years since Oxford don Charles Dodgson, writing as Lewis Carroll, brought to life Alice In Wonderland. The show aims to raise money for the Lenny Trusler Children’s Foundation, and 13 composers have each written a short piece inspired by the book.

Among other festival highlights, Bill Oddie – author, actor, comedian and one of Britain’s bestknown birdwatchers – entertained audience son Wednesday at the Oxford Martin School.

The Springwatch presenter gave a humorous take on his birdwatching experiences and talked about his book Bill Oddie Unplucked.

At Corpus Christi College, award-winning biographer Mark Bostridge told the story of former Somerville College student and renowned pacifist Vera Brittain’s First World War. He revealed how her book, Testament Of Youth, became one of the most loved memoirs of the First World War period.

Her Royal Highness Princess Michael of Kent talked about the second volume of her Anjou trilogy, Agnes Sorel Mistress Of Beauty, at the Bodleian Divinity School.

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Prince and Princess Michael of Kent at the Bodleian Divinity School.

The Oxford Mail’s sister paper The Oxford Times is the regional partner to the festival, with the FT Weekend the main sponsor.