6 Underrated Literary Festivals Coming Up Soon

by |May 16, 2019

Who doesn’t love a great literary festival?

Whether it’s one as huge as Sydney Writers’ Festival or a little regional gem, each literary festival is unique and brilliant in its own way.

Today, to celebrate the launch of the Emerging Writers’ Festival 2019 program last night, I thought it would be a great idea to shine some light on the ones you might not know about but which deserve a whole lot of love.

This is by no means an exhaustive list (there are SO MANY amazing ones out there), but here are 6 wonderful literary festivals that are coming up very soon…

NT Writers’ Festival

16-19 May 2019 – Alice Springs, NT

Readers in the Northern Territory are going to want to head straight to NT Writer’s Festival, which is kicking off today in Alice Springs (home to the Arrernte people).

It’s shaping up to be a wonderful event, all based around the theme of lyapirtneme:

In Arrernte, lyapirtneme translates as something growing back or appearing again, after an absence. This can only happen when the roots are still alive, when seeds lie dormant. In the same vein, the English returning speaks of regeneration, renewal, and repatriation. It might also make us think about going back to places, to the past, or something coming back to us. Both languages speak of cycles and patterns; both reckon with loss, and reference hope.

NT Writers’ Festival website

This year, you can expect to see storytellers like Fiona Wright (The World Was Whole), Charles Massy (Call of the Reed Warbler), Morris Gleitzman (Help Around the House), and more in attendance, who will all be speaking to the central theme of returning and renewal. It sounds absolutely incredible – if you’re in the area, I highly encourage you to go along.


For more information, click here.

Emerging Writers’ Festival

19-29 June 2019 – Melbourne, VIC

OK, so you probably do know this one. The Emerging Writers’ Festival is Australia’s premier festival for new and emerging writers, and the 2019 program has just been announced!

In a night of readings hosted by the festival’s artistic director Izzy Roberts-Orr and program coordinator Aïsha Trambas, an exciting eleven day program of storytelling by our industry’s freshest voices was unveiled. What’s more, the EWF is committed to making the Festival as accessible as possible – over half of the program’s events will be free (including the introductory event Opening Night: Speaking Truth to Power).

Appearing this year will be writers Mark Brandi (The Rip), Melanie Cheng (Room for a Stranger), Carly Findlay (Say Hello), and many more, as well as EWF19 ambassadors Katherine Brabon (The Memory Artist), Toni Jordan (The Fragments), Charlotte Nash (Saving You), Maria Tumarkin (Axiomatic), and Alison Whittaker (Blakwork).


If you want to know what/who the Next Big Thing in Aussie literature is going to be, head along to the Emerging Writer’s Festival – you can find more information here.

Willy Lit Fest

15-16 June 2019 – Williamstown, VIC

Willy Lit Fest (short for Williamstown Literary Festival, please stop laughing) has been running since 2008 and has quickly become an underrated gem in the literary festival world.

It’s run completely by Williamstown locals and it attracts some seriously great names from across a wide range of genres. Think Meg Keneally (Fled), Leah Kaminsky (The Hollow Bones), Caroline Overington (The Ones You Trust), and Lili Wilkinson (After the Lights Go Out), who have all just been announced as part of the 2019 program.

It also celebrates Williamstown’s local writers and poets, with the winner of the Ada Cambridge Award for Poetry and Prose announced at the festival’s opening every year. As it says on their website, “we promise you rich literary pickings, loads of laughs and plenty of fun.” What more could you want from a writers’ festival?


For more information, click here.


21-23 June 2019 – NSW South Coast

There’s nothing like reading a good book by the beach, and that might just be a possibility at this particular festival. StoryFest is a brand new annual celebration of storytelling that will be held in the Milton-Mollymook-Ulladulla area on the south coast of NSW, with a whole heap of amazing panels, sessions, and workshops spread over one weekend.

This year at StoryFest, you’ll see writers like Natasha Lester (The French Photographer), Jaclyn Moriarty (Gravity is the Thing), Candice Fox (Gone by Midnight), Michael Robotham (The Other Wife), Jane Caro (Accidental Feminists), and Christian White (The Nowhere Child), making this an absolutely unmissable event for any bookworm.


You can find more information here.

Byron Writers Festival

2-4 August 2019 – Byron Bay, NSW

Byron Bay is well known for its awesome music festivals, but you should know that it’s also home to Australia’s largest regional celebration of storytelling, literature, and ideas – Byron Writers Festival.

The Festival this year will feature Benjamin Law (Growing Up Queer in Australia), Min Jin Lee (Pachinko), Bruce Pascoe (Dark Emu), Leigh Sales (Any Ordinary Day), Tara June Winch (The Yield), and Markus Zusak (Bridge of Clay), with many more to be announced soon. Kurdish-Iranian refugee Behrouz Boochani (No Friend But the Mountains) will also be appearing at the festival via livestream from Manus Island.

Festival Director Edwina Johnson said that she is thrilled about the upcoming program.

“Whatever your passion, be it fiction, the environment, social issues, poetry or politics, the Festival has something to inspire and entertain you. We look forward to welcoming audiences from near and far to a vibrant three-day gathering in one of the world’s most beautiful coastal locations.” she said.

I’m seriously tempted to book an August flight up to Byron right now…


For more information, click here.

Bendigo Writers Festival

9-11 August 2019 – Bendigo, VIC

This little festival has been going strong for 8 years, growing into an annual three-day reading and writing extravaganza that takes place at the end of winter. Every year, over 100 writers gather in Bendigo for discussions about writing that will appeal to readers young and old.

Past guests include Matt Haig (Notes on a Nervous Planet), Chris Hammer (Scrublands), Benjamin Law, and Kitty Flanagan (Bridge Burning and Other Hobbies), so this year’s lineup is bound to be something truly special.

A full program will be launched on 5 June, so watch this space!


You’ll find more information here.

Have you got a favourite literary festival? Tell us in the comments!

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About the Contributor

Olivia Fricot is the Editor of the Booktopian Blog. After finishing a soul-crushing law degree, Olivia decided that life was much better with one's nose in a book and quickly defected to the world of Austen and Woolf. You can usually find her reading (obviously), baking, writing questionable tweets, and completing a Master's degree in English literature. Just don't ask about her thesis. Olivia is on Twitter and Instagram @livfricot - follow at your own risk.

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