York Racecourse, Racecourse Road

The Festival started out as an event called the "Diva Roadshow" in 2000 at St John’s College (now York St John University) as a way of promoting Diva Books and grew in size until it was large enough to take on venues such as the York Racecourse and Barbican. A literary festival which ended with a disco night, it was a revered celebration of community featuring speakers from diverse backgrounds.

Jenny Roberts, the organiser of the festival and owner of Libertas! bookshop, was praised for the positive effect she had on the queer community in York, such as her role in relocating the women’s dances to the York Assembly rooms. 

"Significant, too, are the memories of a city-wide welcome. Indeed, the sense of safety and community that the festival brought seems to have suffused the whole of York."
Kit Heyam, York Lesbian Arts Festival 2000-2008, "It Was Like We Took Over the City"

The inaugural festival took place at York Guildhall on St Helen’s Square, and the 2007 event at the Racecourse.