Winchester Poetry Festival has cancelled this year’s event because of the ongoing uncertainty with the coronavirus pandemic.

This year’s event, due to have been between October 8 to 12, will instead be held in October 2021.

Organisers say the year delay “will allow us to ensure that we can offer our audiences and participants the quality of event they have come to expect. This decision has the support of our principal funder Arts Council England as well as our partners.”

Part of the education and community programme is being moved online from the autumn and other activities are being deferred until the spring term 2021.

The main festival programme, however, will be deferred for a year but will remain substantially as planned for 2020.

Stephen Boyce, chairman of the trustees, said: “While we regret the need for postponement, this decision will ensure we can offer our audiences and participants the highest quality of live event they have come to expect from the Winchester Poetry Festival.

“We will continue to plan for next year’s event, which includes involvement of a diverse contingent of poets from America. It also gives us the opportunity to develop some valuable new ways of working and broadening our audience.”

However, the Winchester Poetry Prize will continue as planned with the closing date of July 31.

Options are being explored at the moment and the organisers say they are very excited that they will be able to reach a wider audience for this event. The first prize is £1,000; 2nd prize: £500; 3rd prize: £250.

The competition is being judged by Andrew McMillan. Entry fee: £5 for first poem, £4 for subsequent poems.

All of the poems chosen for the longlist are published in a Prizewinners’ anthology each year. The 2020 anthology will be available via the festival’s online shop in October.

More details of the Winchester Poetry Prize and how to enter is on the festival’s website and you can also download a leaflet/entry form.

The organisers have thanked law firm Paris Smith for again sponsoring the competition and say they also grateful to Warren & Son for their support for the prize for the best poem by a Hampshire-based poet.

Stephen added: “The coronavirus has affected everyone in some way, but poetry has the ability to help support, guide and heal.

“We will continue to develop our plans for the festival to ensure that it is the best event yet. We are extremely grateful for the support of all our funders, sponsors, donors and friends and look forward to seeing our festival attendees next year.”

The festival is also regularly updating its website with new poetry videos and podcasts.