Move over music festivals check out a literature festival this year! Do you enjoy festival hopping to quench your thirst for literature? I’m sure you must. One cannot simply live without reading and discovering new literature. It simply isn’t possible!
Literature festivals provide a platform for not only those who seek to write and share their works with a wider audience but to those who wish to read and gain knowledge on the latest trends in the field of publishing.
I hope you’ll enjoy perusing through this compilation of the best literature festivals you can visit, either online or offline.
Berlin international literature festival
Founded in 2001, this festival is held every September at cultural institutions across Berlin, such as theatres and museums. Ten days long, its goal is to spread awareness on the latest trends in genres ranging from YA, prose, fiction, poetry, and a lot more under one roof.
Edinburgh international book festival
Since 1983, every August, the Charlotte square gardens have been a venue for a giant tented village that houses this 16-day long festival that features 900 events and 800 speakers in a year. Not only best-selling authors and Nobel laureates visit the festival, but it also provides a stage for the up-and-coming authors and poets.
Rainbow book fair
A free festival that takes place in Manhattan, this festival caters to authors and readers from the LGBTQIA+ community, with events ranging from a 4-hour poetry reading marathon and a drag queen story hour as well as a feminist zine fest. It supports not only small indie presses but also self-published authors. Lineups, panels, booths, and readings are regularly announced on their social media pages.
Goa Arts and Literature Festival (GALF)
The land of sun, sand, and swaying coconut palms is also quite the zone if you’re a literary nerd! GALF caters to authors who live on the fringes and provides a voice to those on the margins in countries such as Pakistan, the North East, Nepal, and Bangladesh. It also invites local Goan authors as speakers and also hosts book launches, and furthermore sheds light on Dalit writing, poetry, graphic novels, as well as translations. The festival is often centered around a central theme. It is usually held in December.
Golden crown literary society annual conference
This festival is held in honor of lesbian literature in the romance and mystery genres. It not only features the usual festival fare such as keynote addresses, mentoring programs, annual awards, writing classes but also includes a nighttime karaoke for all to partake in. It moves from city to city year after year.
Folkstone book festival
Held in honor of sci-fi author HG Wells who was a resident of Folkstone for a few years and inspired by his ideas, this festival allows writers, artists, and thinkers to explore themes such as race relations, environmental issues, tech, food, and even the current pandemic. Previous speakers include acclaimed South Asian screenwriter and Oscar nominee Hanif Kureishi. Passes can be booked for just £15.
An annual conference that, as the name suggests, caters to authors and readers who are fans of the mystery, thriller, and crime fiction genres. It draws crowds of crime genre lovers who visit the various panels on writing and workshops centered around topics such as ‘writing the best twist’. It is sponsored by the Florida chapter of Mystery Writers of America.
All virtual saints and sinners LGBTQIA+ literature festival
Another festival centered towards the LGBTQIA+ community, this New Orleans based festival takes place virtually and provides a stage to both aspiring and established authors from the community. Visitors can also avail of its annual short fiction contest, and the winning entries are published by Bold Strokes Books and then released to the public at the event itself with a special book release party and reading organized for the winners. The 3-day event is organized at Hotel Monteleone, which in itself is a historical site that holds queer literary connections.
Zee Jaipur literature festival
The Jaipur literature festival was the talk of the town even at my old college, and hence it wins a place on this list. The festival is held against the backdrop of the ornate Diggi Palace. Renowned authors grace it with their presence. Some of the events held here include a cultural commentary between speakers from the West and South Asian diaspora. While the festival is free to attend, visitors can access the private events via the delegate package. The festival ends on a high note- with a joyous and invigorating musical concert.
PEN World Voices festival of international literature
Founded by author Salman Rushdie, Esther Allen, and Michael Roberts in 2005 to combat isolationism in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, this festival seeks to showcase the works of countless International authors and journalists. It also sheds light on real issues faced by outspoken journalists in the current political situation. Talks and debates on various real-life issues are also commonplace here, and the festival is held at various venues across NYC every April.
LA times festival of books
Hosted by the Southern California University in Los Angeles, this two-day event that takes place in April consists of book swaps and book drops as well as live theatre performances, workshops, and sessions on reading and storytelling that are presided over by established authors as well as by emerging publishing houses and writers.
Gateway literature festival
This festival is a literal gateway to events that shift focus from the mainstream English and Hindi literary festivals and instead shed light on works in regional languages such as Punjabi, Bengali, Gujarati, Marathi, Malayalam, Kannada, Oriya, and 22 other languages. Held at NCPA, the festival is a melting pot of undiscovered Indian literature and opens up pathways for ongoing discussions on the works of 60 established authors. It is the first of its kind in Mumbai.
Thank you for reading, and we hope you get an opportunity to check out all or at least one of these festivals when you can. Please do share this list with a fellow festival enthusiast/literature nerd who’ll love it too. Until next time.