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If the smell of books excites you, wandering through aisles in the library finding new authors and genres to explore, getting early to a book launch to hear an author read passages from their latest book then you’ve probably attended a literary festival or two. Either that or you have friends who are writers, poets or theatre performers. 

The love of reading isn’t the only thing that makes literary festivals popular, the love all of all art forms and forms of expression are what makes them so enjoyable. It’s not just a place to watch debates play out on stage, hear the words of established authors , and discover new writers. Literary festivals are a way to connect with like-minded people, who enjoy a good book and the creative  scene, and who also appreciate the hidden gems in the world of art and theatre. It is  an excellent opportunity to peer out from behind your books or group of close friends and socialise.

The literary festival is now, more than ever, an important part of our calendars. Let’s find out why.

What Makes A Literary Festival An Important Occasion

Book signings, readings by authors, poetry nights and theatre performances can be found in a cafe, bookstore or pub on any given evening, especially if you keep your ear to the ground. But what is not so common is finding a way to enjoy all of these in one venue on one night, or even over a few days, and finding people who have come together for the sole purpose of enjoying these art forms. Literary festivals allow you to do just that. You can now enjoy all the things that give you joy and delve into the world of other lovers of the spoken of the word.

Please Take Your Feet From Off Our Necks!
Please Take Your Feet From Off Our Necks!
Changing Tunes
Changing Tunes
Attila The Stockbroker & Murray Lachlan Young
Attila The Stockbroker & Murray Lachlan Young

Celebrating New And Established Talent:

A literary festival gives an  perfect opportunity for new  writers to find an audience  and get a feel of what  readers think of their work. It’s also a way for readers to show their appreciation of what writers have given through countless hours of writing to create new worlds, set out new thoughts providing entertainment and challenge.  But a literary festival is not about writers alone it is about all the different forms that express and convey the “spoken word”. This means you could enjoy singing, theatre performances and poetry from well-known names in the literary scene and from performers who aren’t as well-known, but have just as much talent and love for their respective art forms.

Discovering New Authors

Libraries and bookstores are usually filled with well-known authors. However there are authors with stories to tell that might not be signed to large publishers. They may even be established writers but just new to you. Book lovers enjoy attending book signings and readings from authors but these events won’t beat the wide ranging talent, undiscovered and established, that you’ll find at a literary festival. Literary festivals act as a pathway to explore authors from all genres all walks of life and with intriguing and delightful stories to tell. Authors that probably aren’t discovered yet. It’s always exciting to discover an author before they become successful. It gives you unparalleled insight into their earlier work and the creative process.

A History of the World in 21 Women by Jenni Murray
A History of the World in 21 Women by Jenni Murray

Sharing Your Love For The Spoken Word With Others

Like all festivals, a literary festival is an opportunity to socialise and interact with other poets, writers, playwrights and those lovers of these art forms and the spoken word in general; people who enjoy immersing themselves in a good book and enjoy hearing good poetry. A literary festival brings these people together to connect and enjoy one another's company while enjoying the poets, playwrights and authors on the programme.

A Time To Educate, Celebrate and Integrate

Literary festivals are a great way to introduce younger audiences to the spoken word allowing them to fall in love with this art form as well. It can be a learning experience for them and breathe life into “subjects”  and topics that may otherwise seem lifeless and boring. Theatre performances, especially, offer a way to captivate these young readers and help them understand characters in plays that may seem beyond them. Shakespeare isn’t just for English class, as the stories transcend age groups and tell common stories. Stories which anyone can relate to. A lively Literary festival can encourage youngsters to fall in love with reading, poetry and classical performances- understanding that it isn’t hard to enjoy literature, and that it is not inaccessible thing but something you can experience everyday. 

Reading can also be encouraged by giving young readers the opportunity to interact with authors, ask them questions about characters and learn that reading is not an isolated endeavour it’s actual a social experience.

Travel To The Unlikeliest Destinations

Without leaving Shoreham, or wherever you live, you can travel to any destination your heart desires, while sipping on a cup of tea and mingling with other festival goers. Even time travel is possible at a literary festival. Figuratively speaking of course. If you’re not feeling satisfied with   the present age , why not take a trip to the past and get lost in a bygone era?  You could try travelling to the future, travel to other parts of the world, meet mystical and mythical creatures when you arrive at your destination. 

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Get Involved In Your Local Literary Festival

Literary festivals would not be possible without the men and women who put in the hard work, the hours and often donate their time to make it possible. They do it because of their love of literature, poetry and drama, but also because they enjoy being involved and making it a festival worth attending and participating. You could even become one of the people who make it possible.

Become a Volunteer.

Besides getting a cool t-shirt, volunteering has a range of other perks.

If you’re looking to get first-hand experience of the inner workings of a literary festival it’s time to get involved in the behind-the-scenes work. Volunteers get to watch the entire occasion unfold, and they’ve got insider knowledge on who will be attending before anyone else knows. Of course, volunteering can be your route to meeting and greeting authors, poets and performers as long as you’re willing to do the hard work.

Creative Writing Open Mic
Creative Writing Open Mic
Creative Writing Open Mic
Creative Writing Open Mic
Creative Writing Open Mic
Creative Writing Open Mic

Be the Talent:

You don’t only have to get involved to set up the festival, you can volunteer to promote the festival, and in so doing share your love for performance art, reading and poetry with others. Writers, poets and performance artists are also able to get involved by taking time out of their busy schedules to delight festival goers. This is also the best time to meet fans, and inspire fandom in people you may have not reached before.

If you and your friends are looking for a way to spend an afternoon you should make your way to a literary festival. If you want to be more hands on, though, and you’d love to see your work in action you don’t have to sit on the sidelines you can join in on the festivities by becoming a volunteer or participant and in doing so share your love for the spoken word with other like minded individuals.

So what is the importance of a literary festival in 2019?

If after reading this you’re still wondering why a literary festival is so important in this modern era when you could possibly stream a poetry session and add your voice in the comments section. Or read books on your kindle while hosting your own virtual “book festival”. Let’s recap what makes a literary festival a relevant event:

  • Socialise with like-minded individuals from your neck of the woods.
  • Meet and greet the talent behind books, performances and poetry. Including award winning talent.
  • Inspire reading and writing in younger audiences.
  • Breathe new life into your travels.
  • Find the gems others are yet to discover- giving you bragging rights when they finally make it.

A literary festival is literally the best of all worlds. You’ll be able to indulge in poetry readings, meet award winning writers and escape to a book festival that is unparalleled in its scope, but intimate enough to make it a reader’s paradise.