WAIRARAPA'S unique Yarns in Barns festival is returning this month with a programme certain to excite book lovers, aspiring authors or poets or for that matter anyone who just enjoys listening to a good yarn and camaraderie.

Yarns in Barns gets underway on May 23 for the seventh festival since it was launched in 2003 with 14 events over 10 days spread from Pahiatua to Martinborough.

This year's star-studded guest list is made up of a diverse cross-section of household names in the literary world but the prices have been kept down by the organising committee so that as many people as possible can come along to events of their choice without breaking the bank.

In a roundabout way music will feature prominently in the festival with broadcaster Finlay Macdonald joining forces with evergreen musician Graham Brazier at Aratoi to celebrate the life and music of Hello Sailor founder Dave McArtney.


McArtney, who along with Dragon keyboard player Paul Hewson formed Pink Flamingos after Hello Sailor disbanded in 1980, is the subject of a newly-released book Gutter Black. He died of cancer in April last year.

Celebrated author, ex-model and violinist Christine Leunens will talk about Facts v Fiction Of Life, her latest book. Leunens, who is of Belgian and Italian heritage, hit fame with her first novel Primordial Soup.

Caging Skies was short-listed for the Prix Medicis and the film adaptation of Taika Waititi made Hollywood's Black List of Best Screenplays.

A Can of Sunshine was selected as one of the best Books of the Year last year by the New Zealand Herald.

Leunen's presentation will be at Hedley's Bookshop at 3pm on May 25.

Other highlights of the 10-day festival include a talk in Greytown by cognitive psychologist and author Michael Corballis who will explain what is really happening when people daydream. He will also be featuring in the Yarns Debate.

In a fitting tribute to the fallen of the two world wars War Yarns in a Barn will feature in Strangs woolshed at Gladstone.

This will mark the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War 1 and the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings in World War II.


At other events people will be able to hear the inside story of our history with human stories as diverse as those of former Labour Prime Minister Norman Kirk to those who battled to build dairy giant Fonterra.

NZ entrepreneur of the year and ski champion Sam Hazeldine will talk about small business targets at Copthorne Solway Park.

Tickets to Yarn in Barns events at Hedley's Bookshop.