From New York and London to our very own Jaipur, literary festivals around the world have one fundamental agenda: the promotion of good writing. Here’s a list of literary festivals around the world that provide food for thought, and celebrate with renowned authors, workshops and more.
Prague Writers Festival
Prague, Czech Republic
Taking place in Spring every year, this is an internationally well-known occasion for writers, thinkers and readers to come together. The festival gains considerable media coverage and many of the events are broadcast via Internet too. Some of the distinguished writers who have attended the festival so far include John Banville, Salman Rushdie, William Styron, among many others.
The festival involves public readings where, every evening, the authors take stage and engage in a conversation with the audience, and read excerpts from their work.
Auckland Readers and Writers Festival
Auckland, New Zealand
The festival brings together writers, and celebrates literacy, reading, writing and ideas, in Auckland. An eagerly anticipated yearly event, this festival has given birth to a community of writers, booksellers, publishers and avid readers. The festival brings a writer “out of the shelf.” Some of the festival writers this year are Ian Athfield, Carole Beu, William Dalrymple, Paula Green, Sylvia Nasar, and Mark Sainsbury. While debates, discussion and writing master classes will form much of the event, there will also be book launches like that of William Dalrymple’s ‘Return Of the King.’
Dublin Writers Festival
International bestseller, Dan Brown, will be opening this year’s Dublin Writers Festival. The festival gathers the finest writers in the world to debate, provoke, delight and enthral. The festival includes performance and screenings, besides debates and workshops. The events to look out for this time are ‘An Evening With Dan Brown’ and ‘Caitlin Moran in Conversation.’
May 23- June 2
This is an annual literature festival founded by Norman and Peter Florence in 1988. The festival is popularly referred to as ‘Woodstock Of The Mind.’ Celebrating great writing from poets, scientists, lyricists, comedians, novelists and environmentalists, the Hay Festival seeks to change the way the world thinks with ideas that pack a powerful punch.
Having expanded in recent years, the festival includes music performances and film previews. A children’s festival – ‘Hay Fever’– runs alongside the main festival. Its international sister festival takes place in Nairobi, Dhaka, Kerala, Maldives etc.
This year, the festival will open with ‘The Hay Library Lecture’ by Quentin Blake, John McCarthy and Sandi Toksvig, who will talk about Palestine and Israel. Rowan Williams and Neil MacGregor will discuss imagery and faith. Bangladeshi Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus, and Nick Stern will analyse and debate on micro-finance, sustainability and much more.
London Literature Festival
May 24-June 5
This annual festival brings together international world-class poets, authors and speakers, who represent the spectrum of creative disciplines. For 2013, celebrated biographer Claire Tomalin will present five lectures on literary icons such as Thomas Hardy and Jane Austen.
Best-selling authors — Barbara Kingsolver, Audrey Niffenegger, Lionel Shriver, James Salter and William Dalrymple — will read from, and discuss, their work. Luminaries from other arenas of art and culture, such as actor Rupert Everett, artists Gavin Turk and Cornelia Parker, designer Tom Dixon and musicians Jarvis Cocker and Ute Lemper, will join these literary heavyweights. Ute Temper will also sing Pablo Neruda’s love poems.
For the full line-up, visit the Southbank website.
Byron Bay Writers Festival
Byron Bay, New South Wales
This festival, which began in 1997, originally featured interviews with notable writers like Brett Easton Ellis, Kathy Lette, Matthew Reilly and many more. The events will range from stand-up comedies and music programmes. This festival will mainly focus on Australian writing, but will also feature Indonesian and Asian authors. The Byron Bay Writers Festival enjoys a close relationship with the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival.
Edinburgh International Book Festival
The festival hosts cultural and political debates, along with a programme for children. The festival, which originated in 1983, became a yearly event in 1997. It is now an international event that is central to Edinburgh’s ‘August Arts’ celebrations.
Each year, writers from all over the world gather to become part of this unique forum in which the reader and author meet to exchange opinions on some of the world’s most pressing issues. The Children’s Programme includes workshops, storytelling, panel discussions, author events and book signings.
The festival welcomes more than 22000 visitors and even has its own independent bookselling operation. Together with its counterparts — the International Festival, the Jazz Festival, the Fringe, the Art Festival, the Film Festival and the Edinburgh Mela — the Edinburgh International Book Festival forms the biggest and best arts festival in the world.
Brisbane Writers Festival
Brisbane Writers Festival brings together readers, writers, and innovators within the cultural milieu of Brisbane. The festival also informs visitors about the upcoming works of writers. There’s also the ‘One Story Project’ which, with the help of Twitter and a brilliant collection of 50 writers from around the globe, hopes to put together a stories told in 140 characters.
This festival will also feature ‘Word Play’, a diverse and academically engaging programmme for students in grades 4-12. This event, which will be held on September 4-6, will feature talks with writer, interactive sessions, workshops and online chats, with students in remote and regional classrooms.
Brooklyn Book Festival
Inauguarated in 2006 by Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, this annual book fair was meant to showcase the ‘Brooklyn voice’ in literature. In recent years, the festival has expanded its scope to include non-Brooklyn writers as well, such as Joan Didion, Dennis Lehane, John Reed, Rosanne Cash and Dave Eggers. The festival caters to an adult readership and includes themed readings and panel discussions.
Boston Book Festival
This is an independent group from Cambridge, MA, founded in 2009. This annual event that highlights the importance of literacy and literature, aims to “celebrate the power of words,” and to “stimulate, unite, delight, and inspire.” This is a free one-day event, which combines a street festival with an array of authors and other literary presenters from around the world. Throughout the year, the Boston Book Festival hosts talks and presentations that cover a range of topics. There are also a number of writing workshops that may help the aspiring writer in getting the creative juices flowing.
Bridport Literary Festival 2013
The Bridport Literary Festival has been running since 2005 and has played host to some of the biggest literary lions. Now in its eighth year, this festival throws up a literary menu to suit all tastes – “the perfect solution to light up the gloomy days of November.”
Although the list of writers to be present at this festival hasn’t been finalised yet, you can rest assured that it will include literary giants just like every other year.
Oxford Literary Festival
This student town has been home, at some point or the other, to many intellectual greats across the world. Always ready to embrace new thinkers, and never short of an engaging debate, it is only apt that Oxford has a literary festival of its own. This year, the Oxford Literary Festival had writers and panellists from over 20 countries.
Some special guests this year were Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney, and Booker Prize winners Hilary Mantel, Julian Barnes and Ben Okri. The 2013 festival is moving into the heart of the city, and will be held at the Sheldonian Theatre, the Divinity School and the Bodleian Library.