25 Best Literary Festivals in the World
By VacationIdea Staff on November 26, 2022 - Updated
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Literary festivals are held annually in many corners of the globe and attract huge numbers of readers, writers, playwrights and publishers who come to spend a week or weekend exchanging ideas with like-minded people. Most of the festivals include opportunities to meet your favorite authors and brush-up your writing skills (aided by enthusiastic professional authors). In order to foster a true love of reading, most of the festivals offer extensive programs of story-telling and other fun activities for children and young adults.
1. Berlin International Literature Festival
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The ilb (international literature festival berlin) is held every September at the modern and spacious Haus der Berliner Festspiele in Schaperstrasse, Berlin. The aim of the festival is to offer locals and visitors unparalleled access to everything new and innovative in the world of literature. You can find out all about the latest trends in prose, fiction, poetry and children and adolescent literature, all under one roof. Up and coming writers are showcased and many new literary works enjoy their premiere reading at the festival. The Festival usually runs for around twelve days and includes daily workshops held at the main venue as well as at several other venues around the city.
berlin international literature festival (ilb), Schaperstrasse 24, 10719 Berlin, Phone: +49-30-25-48-90
2. Brooklyn Book Festival
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The eagerly-anticipated Brooklyn Book Festival is the largest free literary event in New York, attracting thousands of bookworms who come to seek out their favorite authors and find new and exciting emerging writers. The festival runs over a week in September, featuring week-long Book End events where you can meet your favorite authors and have your books signed. The main highlights of the festival are the Saturday Children’s Day (at Metro Tech Commons, where children will be entertained for hours listening to delightful children’s book readings and the Sunday Festival Day (at Brooklyn Borough Hall & Plaza) when over 300 local and international authors conduct readings and book signings. Events are held at several locations dotted around the city – visit their website for program details.
Brooklyn Book Festival
3. Buenos Aires Book Festival
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The fantastic Buenos Aires Book Festival is the most important literary festival in the Spanish-speaking world and one of the world’s top five literary events. The 20-day festival takes place in late April every year and attracts over one million visitors and participants. Visitors can expect to find close to 500 exhibitors spread out over nine pavilions which cover around 450 square meters in the grounds of the Argentine Rural Society. Before the festival opens to the general public there are two days of intensive professional workshops for literary agents, graphic designers, printers and everyone involved in the literature industry. The book festival offers something for everyone, from educators to young children and just about everyone in between.
Buenos Aires Book Festival, Argentine Rural Society, Buenos Aires
4. Cheltenham Literature Festival
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The annual Cheltenham Literature Festival has been drawing huge crowds of book lovers since 1949 and has become an eagerly anticipated event in Cheltenham. The festival runs for 10 days every autumn (2019 dates are 4th to 13th of October) and visitors to this delightful spa town will find it transformed into a reader’s Mecca where over 600 distinguished local and international authors, poets, actors, debaters and opinion-formers strut their stuff. The fair offers something for everyone – you can attend a reading and book signing, attend a debate, bring the children to see their favorite story-book characters brought to life or simply meander through a treasure trove of wonderful books.
Cheltenham Literature Festival, Montpellier Gardens, Cheltenham, GL50 1UW
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5. Conrad Festival
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The Conrad Festival is held in Krakow, Poland, every October, where it has achieved the distinction of being the largest literature festival in Central Europe. Although the festival is primarily dedicated to renewing interest in literature (and runs concurrently with the Krakow Book Fair), it also hosts artists, musicians, actors and just about anyone involved in the pursuit of culture. The festival showcases a broad spectrum of international literature side-by-side with Polish authors and each day of the festival is dedicated to a different aspect of literature including poetry, prose, fiction, non-fiction and children’s literature. The prestigious Conrad Award is presented to the best local emerging author each year.
The Conrad Festival, Czeczotka Palace, located at ulica Sw. Anny 2
6. The Edinburgh International Book Festival
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The Edinburgh International Book Festival is one of the city’s most popular and vibrant events, attracting over 200,000 visitors each year. The festival takes place over 16 days every August and usually features around 900 events where you can meet your favorite authors, listen to heated literary debates and bring the children to attend magical story-telling sessions and educational workshops for children with learning disabilities. Most years the festival attracts over 1000 emerging and established authors, poets and educators, including Braille specialists and remedial teachers. If you would like to hone your own writing skills you will find a variety of creative writing workshops to attend.
Edinburgh Book Festival, Book Festival Village, Charlotte Square Gardens, EH2 4DR
7. Emirates Airline Festival of Literature
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Held in Dubai at the beginning of February every year, the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature strives to foster a love of literature across all ages and backgrounds in the Arab Emirates. From modest beginnings in 2009, the festival has grown from strength to strength and now attracts around 43,000+visitors each year. You will find over 200+ world-famous writers hosting debates, workshops and book signings and there are also many emerging writers contributing their work to the festival in the hopes of winning one of the generous prizes on offer. Visitors have the chance to meet their literary heroes in person and get a signed copy of their work.
Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, Intercontinental, Dubai Festival City, Dubai, UAE
8. Gothenburg (Gotëburg) Book Fair
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Every year in September the ancient city of Gothenburg hosts Scandinavia’s largest cultural event, the Gothenburg Book Fair. The fair runs for four days, providing everyone in the literary business the opportunity to meet and brainstorm. The fair originated in 1985 as a conference for librarians but now attracts over 95,000 librarians, teachers, writers, story-tellers and book lovers. Each year the fair features a themed country and/or topic – in 2019 the featured country with will South Korea, who will send several prominent authors to showcase Korean literature. The fair is held in the centrally situated Swedish Exhibition and Congress Center which is right next door to the Gothia Towers Hotel where you can enjoy great accommodation, restaurants and shopping.
Gothenburg Book Fair, Swedish Exhibition and Congress Center, SE 412 94 Gotëburg
9. Hay Festival
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More than just a book festival, the Hay Festival of Literature and Arts brings together some of the most talented authors, playwrights, publishers and book lovers for ten days of pure literature bliss. The original Hay Festival was held in Hay-on-Rye in the beautiful Brecon Beacons National Park in Powys, Wales, in 1988 and has become one of the most prominent cultural festivals in the United Kingdom. Over the last 30 years the festival has spread to several corners of the earth including Peru, Spain, Colombia and Mexico. The annual Hay Festival in Wales runs for ten days at the end of May and gives visitors the opportunity to rub shoulders with their favorite local and international authors, attend readings and debates and attend educational workshops.
Hay Festival, Hay-on Rye, Powys, Wales
10. International Literary Festival of Paraty
© International Literary Festival of Paraty
Brazil’s premier cultural event Flip takes place each year in July in the town of Paraty, located on the Pereque-Acu River in the vicinity of Rio de Janeiro. For five days the town is transformed into a hub of literature where visitors can meet a host of local and international authors, poets and play-wrights, attend literature workshops and participate in debates. As part of the festival, Flipinha is focused entirely on enriching children’s experience in literature and story-telling. A further arm of the festival is called FlipMais and includes live theatre, music and cinema which visitors can enjoy at a variety of venues dotted around the city.
International Literary Festival of Paraty, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
11. Istanbul Book Fair
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Bookworms who would like to combine their love of literature with the chance to visit one of the world’s most iconic ancient cities should make a point of visiting Istanbul in November, when the city hosts its annual International Book Fair. The fair draws book- lovers, intellectuals, authors, poets and publishers from all over the world to meet and exchange ideas over a period of seven days. Visitors will have the opportunity to meet authors, have their books signed, participate in an extensive list of workshops and debates and find many precious literary masterpieces to take home with them. The fair is easy to access from central Istanbul using the Metrobus.
Istanbul Book Fair, Tuyap Fair Convention and Congress Center, Istanbul, Turkey, Phone: +90-21-28-67-11-00
12. Kerala Literature Festival
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The Kerala Literature Festival is a relatively new-comer to the long list of literary festival hosts worldwide. The festival was first held in 2016 where it endeavored to provide a platform for discussion and debate for authors, artists, playwrights and poets. Here visitors have the chance to meet and discuss all manner of literary and other issues with both local and international professionals in the literature business. Discussions cover a wide variety of important topics including freedom of speech, the place of literature in modern education, languages in the digital age and much more. The festival is held annually in January or February at Kozhikode Beach.
725 Ruins Rd, Aztec, NM 87410, Phone: +91-90-72-35-17-55
13. LA Times Festival of Books
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Established to celebrate the written word, the LA Festival of Books is the most popular festival of its kind in California. The festival takes place over two days in April, where it attracts over 150,000 guests who are either involved in the literature business or are lovers of literature. The majority of the festival sessions are free of charge, offering visitors from all walks of life the chance to celebrate reading, writing and culture. For two exciting days, visitors and aspiring writers can attend inspiring workshops, readings and story-telling sessions presented by a diversity of established and emerging writers and publishers. You can meet your favorite author and take home a signed copy of their book to cherish forever.
LA Times Festival of Books, University of Southern California, Los Angeles
14. The Library of Congress National Book Festival
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Washington residents eagerly await the annual Library of Congress National Book Festival which is held each year in August at the National Convention Center. 2019 will mark the 19th anniversary of the festival which offers exciting events for book lovers of all ages. A key theme of the festival is to actively encourage young readers to spend more time reading (in 2018 the festival line-up included no less than 40 authors who write exclusively for children and young adults) and the Wells Fargo reading area offers half-hourly readings, audio book zones and children’s activities. Adults can enjoy meeting prominent local and international authors, attending readings, debates and writing workshops.
Library of Congress National Book Festival, Walter E. Washington Convention Center, 101 Mount Vernon Place NW, Washington, DC 20001
15. Litquake San Francisco
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Every year in October, Litquake rocks the San Francisco Bay area with an overload of literary stimuli. The ten-day festival encourages everyone involved in the world of literature to sit up and take notice of new and innovative ideas by providing a meeting place for writers, poets, educators and all lovers of the written word. You can kick off your visit by attending the opening function (called the Hob Nob) at the elegant University Club on Nob Hill. During the festival children can meet their favorite book characters and listen to story-time at Kid Quake, while adults can attend premiere book readings, inspiring writer’s workshops and much more. The final highlight of the festival is the Lit Crawl, a one-night literary pub crawl through the city’s Mission district.
Litquake, 57 Post St Ste 604, San Francisco 94104, Phone: 415-440-4177
16. Miami Book Fair
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For seven days each year in November, the campus of Miami Dade College pulls out all the stops to host over 500 prestigious authors during the Miami Book Fair. The fair offers aspiring writers a unique opportunity to meet their heroes and attend creative writing courses and workshops. Younger readers will find plenty to keep them stimulated and occupied during the Kids, Tweens & Teens author events, while adults can listen to famous international authors talk about their latest books and hold discussion groups. Besides readings and workshops the fair also hosts short film and music events as well as film screenings. Most of the events are offered free of charge to encourage a love of literature across all income groups.
Miami Book Fair, Miami Dade College, 300 Second Ave, Miami, FL 33132
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17. Mountain Echoes, Bhutan
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Hosted every August at the Royal University of Bhutan, the Mountain Echoes festival is Bhutan’s premiere cultural event, sponsored mainly by the country’s Royal Queen Mother, Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck. Mountain Echoes was established in 2009 as an initiative of the India Bhutan Foundation to bring together all the prominent names in local and international literature to spend three idyllic days in the mountains exchanging ideas and philosophies. As part of the varied program you can enjoy performances by members of the Royal Society of Performing Arts, attend writer’s workshops and bring the children to attend the Just Imagine: Theatre Workshop for Children.
Mountain Echoes Literature Festival, Royal University of Bhutan, Thimpu, Bhutan
18. NGC Bocas Lit Fest
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Arguably the most popular literary festival in the Caribbean, the NGC Bocas Lit Fest is held every April in Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago. The festival provides a platform for the foremost established and emerging Caribbean creative minds and offers guests an outstanding opportunity to learn from the masters. In 2018 the festival hosted over 100 events including writer’s workshops, readings, debates and film screenings. Most of the events are free of charge and there are dedicated children’s events which take place at the Children’s Library of the City Hall. You will find a wide range of books for sale and many authors host book signings after their reading sessions.
NGC Bocas Lit Fest, National Library and Old Fire Station, Abercromby Street and Hart Street, Port of Spain
19. Norwegian Festival of Literature
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The Norwegian Festival of Literature is held in the town of Lillehammer at the end of May each year. This is an eagerly anticipated Norwegian cultural event which draws over 26,000 avid readers who come to meet like-minded enthusiasts for six days of inspirational workshops and other events. The festival caters for both adult and child book fans and endeavors to cultivate a true love of the written word among young readers through their ground-breaking year-round PEGASUS program, which culminates at the festival. You can attend readings and book signings by a wide variety of famous local and international artists and aspiring writers can learn the tips of the trade from established authors.
Norwegian Festival of Literature, Lillehammer, Norway
20. Sydney Writer’s Festival
© Sydney Writer’s Festival
In May each year Sydney hosts the perennially popular Sydney Writer’s Festival, where people from all walks of life are invited to immerse themselves in the world of literature. The festival brings together some of the best literary minds in Australia and beyond, offering visitors an annual dose of inspirational events, most of which are presented at no cost. The guests are not restricted to authors and you will be able to meet and listen to representatives of a wide variety of literary genres including screenwriting, fiction and non-fiction, poetry, performing arts, biographies and children’s literature. The festival also presents an annual Children’s Festival of Moving Stories each year in November.
Sydney Writer’s Festival is held at various venues throughout Sydney.
21. Texas Book Festival
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Dedicated to encouraging Texans of all ages to spend more time reading books, the Texas Book Festival takes place in Austin, on the last weekend of October. As one of the largest literary events of its kind in the country, the Texas Book Festival attracts bookworms of all ages from every corner of the state and beyond. You can look forward to the chance to meet some of the 250+ prominent adult and children’s writers who come to the festival to share their expertise and love of literature. All events and workshops are presented free of charge to encourage everyone to participate. Funds raised from the sale of books are used to support state-wide library programs.
Texas Book Festival, Texas State Capitol Building, Lavaca St and E 11th St, Austin, Texas
22. Ubud Writer’s and Reader’s Festival
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The Ubud Writer’s and Reader’s Festival is Southeast Asia’s premier literary event, drawing literary professionals from over 30 countries. You can expect to find some of the finest minds attending the festival including internationally acclaimed authors, artists, journalists and activists who come to share their insight and passion. Children and young adults can attend the special Children and Youth Program to enjoy inspiring story-telling, live theater and art workshops. Visitors can book a variety of themed lunches and dinners led by prominent writers and enjoy a full program of after-dark literary entertainment. UWRF takes place at a number of venues throughout Ubud and a free shuttle will take you from place to place.
UWRF, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
23. Wordstock - Portland Book Festival
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The Portland Book Festival is held every November at the Portland Art Museum (and other neighboring venues). The festival enjoys the participation of over 100 well-known writers and literature celebrities, making it an absolute must-attend event for all readers and aspiring writers. You can expect to find no less than nine event stages as well as a number of pop-up reading venues, over 80 book vendors and many other partner events spread across theatres and other venues. Aspiring writers can attend up to 13 writer’s workshops and families have access to many fun children’s activities including story-telling and craft sessions. You can kick off your literature adventure by joining Lit Crawl Portland, which takes place the night before the start of the festival.
Portland Book Festival, Portland Art Museum, 1219 SW Park Ave, Portland, OR 97205
24. PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature
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Dedicated to protecting freedom of speech and showcasing the work of hundreds of international writers and journalists, PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature takes place at various venues in New York City every April. You can expect to hear talks and debates by more than 150 talented and respected authors, journalists and activists who come together to debate vital issues of press freedom and other threats to the written word in today’s society. In 2018 the distinguished line-up of speakers included Hilary Clinton, Salmon Rushdie (founder of PEN) and several other prominent literary advocates. The festival offers emerging writers and journalists an insight into the real issues facing writers in the current political era.
25. ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival
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Often referred to as the “Greatest literary show on Earth”, ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival has an impressive reputation to maintain. During its lifetime, the festival has hosted over 2,000 speakers who have come to educate and inspire more than one million avid readers. The five-day festival is held against the backdrop of the amazing Diggi Palace in Jaipur and includes many extension events. Although the festival is free for anyone to attend you can enhance your experience by signing up for a Delegate Package which will offer you access to the Delegate Lounge and several private events where you can rub shoulders with many of the prominent invited speakers. Aspiring writers have the chance to compete in essay writing and blogging competitions as well as to attend workshops to hone your writing skills.
ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival, Jaipur, India
What are the 25 Best Literary Festivals in the World?
The 25 Best Literary Festivals in the World according to local experts are: