Sleep, eat and breathe literature by attending these eleven literary festivals around the world. Whether you are a public speaker, an author or just someone with a passion for anything literary, these festivals are the perfect opportunity to hang out with fellow literati (bookworms) and immerse yourself in discussions, debates, workshops and other cultural and arts events that will blow your mind.
1. Shanghai International Literary Festival, China.
Having grown from small beginnings, this is now China’s leading English language literary festival, at which all genres are celebrated and discussed in order to create a taste for the current literary landscape. Each March, you can attend literary lunches, panel discussions, workshops, live events and readings, as well as watch some of the world’s greatest writers in conversation with one another. With a focus on fiction, literary non-fiction, poetry and children’s writing, activities also include interactive forums and sessions in other languages such as Mandarin, Italian and French, including sessions with well-known writers and Man Booker Prize winners.
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2. Kosmopolis, The Amplified Literature Fest, Barcelona, Catalonia.
Born in March 2002, Kosmopolis showcases the wild literary scene of Barcelona right from its heart at the Center de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona in the beautiful El Raval neighbourhood. Literary history runs deep through this region of Spain, which is why many of its most successful publishing houses are located here today. Barcelona’s literary brand of Gothic mystique and historical weightiness has, for eons, produced some of the best works of romance, love, betrayal, adventure, friendship, familial conflict and mystery. The city feeds the imaginations of emerging writers and those who are just passing through. Around 9,000 people attended the festival this past March and Festival director Juan Insua explained that “the goal is to think of literature as a big house with many doors; the ‘amplified’ concept relates to the fact that you can enter from a television series, a video game, a graphic novel or scientific developments”.
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3. Hay Festival, Hay-on-Wye, United Kingdom.
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Hay-on-Wye is considered to be the Glastonbury of book festivals, and England’s most well-known. It began in 1988 in the small English-Welsh border town of Hay-on-Wye and has since gained a powerful reputation playing host to a rich line up of novelists, poets, dramatists, biographers, historians, artists, chefs and many more influential creatives each year around the end of May. People in attendance can kick off the Summer either by camping in some of the U.K.s most beautiful stretch of countryside or stay in one of the book-town’s many B&Bs. To top it all off, this town is also home to Hay castle, a medieval fortification built in the 16th century, which has an outdoor public library wrapping around the castle walls.
4. Small Wonder, Charleston, Sussex, United Kingdom.
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Small Wonder is another prime example of book festivals which thrive when hosted in small, pretty towns. Ledbury hosts this ten day long festival with a heavy focus on short story and poetry writers. With an international line-up to enjoy, many days are spent at the fabled setting of Charleston House, the previous home of Victoria Bell and Duncan Grant reading, listening and making friends with fellow book lovers who are all there to share the properties significant literary heritage and the voices that travel to it each year.
5. Brooklyn Book Festival, Downtown Brooklyn, New York, United States.
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Originally established to shine the spotlight on Brooklyn’s many homegrown writers, today the BKBF has become an international literary event and is NYC’s largest free literary festival. With hundreds of book-related events for new and emerging authors to showcase their work, a lively children’s day and a festival day, the outdoor marketplace which hosts it creates a hip, urban vibe which thousands of people visit each year to hear the “Brooklyn voice.”
6. Sydney Book Festival, Australia.
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Beginning in 1997, this festival has expanded, now drawing a crowd of 80,000 people each year, in mid to late March. The festival involves 400 participants and presents over 300 events in renovated piers in Walsh Bay, Sydney.
7. Berlin Book Festival, Mitte, Berlin, Germany.
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Berlin is internationally recognised as a lively cultural hotspot. Its festival of literature boasts a program in which people can attend a multitude of events with a contemporary focus, such as “reflections” in which authors, journalists and international experts from various specialist areas will all be voicing their opinions in discussions that takes on current political, social and cultural topics. ‘Science and the Humanities’ is also on the list in which scientific insights, approaches and potential solutions are discussed. Other programs include ‘Literatures of the World’, ‘Speak’, ‘Memory’ and ‘Specials’ which foregrounds new German voices. All texts presented at this festival are done so in their mother tongue, yet with presenters and translators available, discussions between presenter, author and even audience are all made possible.
8. Zee Jaipur Literature Festival, India.
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This is the largest free festival in the world. Last year, 350,000 people attended in the Northern Indian city of Jaipur. Sanjoy Roy, founder of Teamwork Arts, the festival’s organizer says “This kind of energy is difficult to reproduce because it comes from the young participants and the array of conversation on topics from cookery to math, ancient literature to modern writing. It is all about the discovery of new voices.” As the tally of literary festivals across India continues to rise, the JLF remains “magnificent and chaotic and marvellous.”
9. Miami Book Fair, Florida, United States.
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The Miami Book Fair has gained quite the reputation for itself as being more of a “literary party” than anything else. This fair takes place over the course of eight days at the Watson Campus at Miami-Dade College every year in November. 250,000 people on average attend. Complete with live music and delicious food vendors, there is also a great selection of new and used books on sale and an engaging panel discussion.
10. World Voices Festival of International Literature, New York, United States.
PEN World Voices is a week-long literary festival in New York City. The Festival was founded by Esther Allen and Michael Roberts under then PEN President Salman Rushdie. The Festival is composed of programs, readings, conversations, and debates that showcase international literature and new writers. It is produced by PEN America, a nonprofit organization that works to advance literature, promote free expression, and foster international literary fellowship. It runs for a week in April and has a focus on human rights.
11. Wordstock, Portland, Oregon, United States
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In November each year, the literary arts annual celebration of books is where you can pick up information about MFA programs and writing classes, get book recommendations from your favourite authors and and attend events and talks such as ‘Border Crossing: Poetry and Place’ and ‘If You Can Make it Here: Art and Artists in New York City.’
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