Bridport Literary Festival got off to a flying start with a packed house for Poet Laureate Simon Armitage on Sunday evening.

He was interviewed by author and poet James Crowden before taking to the lectern and reading from his new collection of poems, Sandettie Light Vessel Automatic, which takes its name from one of the 22 weather stations whose conditions are reported in the BBC Shipping Forecast.

He had travelled down to the event from his native North Yorkshire. There was a long queue down the Palace’s passageway into the Electric Lounge where he signed copies of the book.

“Thank you for inviting me to Bridport and to this lovely building,” he said.

Earlier, journalist and historian Max Hastings enthralled the Palace audience with a talk on Chastise: The Dambusters Story, a dramatic retake of familiar history.

Bridit director Tanya Bruce-Lockhart said the team was thrilled with how the first day had gone.

“There’s still lots more to look forward to,” she said. “And everyone seems to be entranced by the Electric Palace, which looks so magical.”

Events are also being held in Bridport Library, Sladers Yard at West Bay, The Bull Hotel Ballroom, Symondsbury Tithe Barn and Bridport Literary and Scientific Institute.

Many talks at the annual festival have already sold out but there are still tickets available for some others, including Sadie Jones at the LSI on Thursday at 4pm, Deborah Moggach at the Electric Palace on Friday at 2.30pm, and David Nicholls at the Electric Palace on Saturday at 5pm.

Sadie Jones won the Costa First Novel Award for her best selling The Outcast. Her latest novel, The Snakes, is equally menacing. It’s an all-consuming story of a family whose worse sins come back to bite them.

Deborah Moggach is best known as the author of These Foolish Things, which was made into the film, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Her new novel, The Carer, is a waspish, witty and poignant novel about ageing, sibling rivalry and having to grow up fast.

Hannah Beckerman, writing in The Guardian, says of the book: “Moggach explores the topical question of care for the elderly and whose responsibility it is. She infuses what could be a dry subject with her trademark humour and pathos, reshaping a societal dilemma into a family drama, by turns compelling and surprising.”

David Nicholls is the bestselling author of One Day and Us. His latest novel, Sweet Sorrow, is a funny and life-changing story of one summer. It was recently adapted as Radio 4’s Book of the Week.

*Tickets for all BridLit events are available from Bridport Tourist Information Centre on 01308 424901 or through the website