FESTIVE READING

Six literary festivals which are ready to sweep you off your feet. Scotland, England, Belgium, USA and Germany. Where will you start? 


Edinburgh International Book Festival

  • Where: Charlotte Square Gardens, Edinburgh, Scotland
  • When: 12 - 28 August 2017

The largest public celebration of the written word in the world (at least according to their website, but it sounds amazing!). Every August, Edinburgh turns itself into the literary city-to-see, bringing around 1000 writers to meet and talk with their readers. Entry is free, but you need to buy tickets for individual lectures with writers and artists.

  • Themes: Age of Political Earthquakes, Intersections of Identity and Culture, India and Pakistan: 70 Years On, Reading the Final Chapter (theme of mortality and death), This Woman Can, Visions of the Future (speculative discussions about topics such as gender, globalisation, Brexit or death)

  • Writers you shouldn't miss: Colson Whitehead (the Pulitzer Winner 2017 for his book The Underground Railway), Paula Hawkins (the author of the bestsellers The Girl on the Train and Into the Water), Meik Wiking (the author of the bestseller The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living), Aravind Adiga (the winner of the Man Booker Prize in 2008 with his debut novel White Tiger)
  • Where: Hay-on-Wye, Wales, UK; (also takes place in Cartagena, Colombia; Segovia, Spain)
  • When: 24 May - 3 June 2018

In May and June 2017 the Hay Festival celebrated its 30th year of bringing readers and writers together. Who can you meet there? Nobel Prize-winners and novelists, politicians, historians, musicians and scientists who are ready to discuss a range of themes. The full programme has more than 600 events. Entry is free, you need to buy tickets just for the lectures you want to attend. Tickets range from five to forty pounds. Educational events are free for students who have their student ID to prove their status of being a student. Interestingly, the festival also takes place for example in Colombia, Spain or Denmark. More information here

  • Themes and the list of guests is usually not released until the beginning of April


PEN World Voice Festival

  • Where: venues across New York City
  • When: May (dates for the 2018 PEN World Voice Festival have not been released yet)

The literary festival was founded in the aftermath of 9/11, aiming to broaden dialogue between the US and the rest of the world. Since then the festival has presented more than 1500 writers and artists from 118 countries speaking 56 languages in a weeklong series of literary events with a human rights focus (as I found it on their website).

  • Themes of the 2017 PEN WVF: Gender and Power (examining bigotry, misogyny and xenophobia)
  • Writers from the 2017 PEN WVF: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (the author of the books Americanah and Half of a Yellow Sun), Carrie Brownstein (musician, model and the author of the book Carol), songwriter Patti Smith
  • Where: Berlin
  • When: 06 - 16 September 2017

The 17th year of the International Festival in Berlin wants to bring the experience of literary diversity in the age of globalisation. So Arabic poets meet American short story writers, South Korean poets encounter their Russian colleagues or South African novelists get to know a new generation of Albanian writers. 10 days, 180 events, 150 authors.

  • Themes: Graphic Novel Day, Made in Germany, Literatures of the World; Speak, Memory; Science and the Humanities, Arrival - Literary Repots by Refugee-Authors
  • List of guests who have confirmed their attendance is here 

Passa Porta Festival

  • Where: Brussels, Belgium
  • When: in March every two years (so the next one will take place in 2019)

Passa Porta is the international house of literature in Brussels with a bookshop where they sell books in three languages (French, Dutch, English). Every two years they organize a literary festival with more than 100 writers from about 40 countries. So if you are planning a trip to Brussels in 2019, this can be on your list of stuff to-do.

  • Themes of the PPF 2017: How to Read the World, Duality, Risk-taking in our uncertain age - writers crossing borders and blending genders in their stories
  • Writers from the Passa Porta Festival 2017: French writer Annie Ernaux (my favourite one, read her book A Man's Place), Turkish writer Ece Temekuran, Columbian writer Juan Gabriel Vásquez


Miami Book Fair International

  • Where: Miami, Florida
  • When: 12 - 19 November 2017

Founded in 1984 by Miami Dade College, Miami Book Fair has been recognized as one of the nation's finest literary festival. It does not only sell books from more than 250 publishers but it also brings to its visitors more than 450 authors discussing their work from all around the world. However, I was not able to get more details from their website, so have a look yourself here.


By clicking on the logos of the festivals you will get to their websites.