homotopia, Liverpool’s annual celebration of gay culture, returns to the city this week for the fourth year in a row.

The event, the biggest to date, has a diverse and eclectic programme of art, theatre, music, dance, comedy, photography, debate, film and cabaret.

Highlights include the National Theatre of Scotland’s Liverpool debut with their critically acclaimed performance of Venus As A Boy (Unity Theatre, 15 – 17 November) and artist Paul Harfleet’s The Pansy Project.

Harfleet will plant 2000 pansies in St John’s Gardens as a memorial to victims of hate crimes and in remembrance of a homophobic murder in the park itself.

Similar projects by the artist have already been established in London, Berlin and New York.

This year’s festival will also feature a literary strand, with readings from Patrick Gale, Stella Duffy and Paul Burston, who hope to encourage audiences to explore their community libraries and seek out the best gay literature.

A special morning feature entitled Thought For The Gay (today – 2nd November), will also be hosted by BBC Radio Merseyside, where a variety of LGBT campaigners and members of Liverpool’s gay community will reflect on the issues that affect them.

Other highlights include a Brian Epstein walking tour, Queer Jackanory with David Hoyle, a talk by Peter Tatchell about LGBT life in Iraq, Bette Bourne in conversation about Quentin Crisp and appearances by Billie Ray Martin, Amy Lame and Taylor Mac.

The festival will also serve as a platform from which to launch homotopia TV, which is already up and running showing previews and clips.

Liverpool’s first and very own queer TV station, the channel is supported by the Arts Council and is devoted to queer art and culture.

“With 70 events in three weeks and up to 15,000 people taking part, Liverpool’s fourth annual homotopia will be bigger and better than ever before,” said festival director Gary Everett.

The festival runs from November 1st to November 19th 2007. For more information, please visit the homotopia website.