Whether you’re a book lover with a wandering spirit or a traveler seeking a unique adventure, literary festivals are a great way to create your own “happily ever after” on your next trip. Here are five of our favorites.
Miami Book Fair
Find books to read (or give!) this holiday season at the Miami Book Fair. The fair runs for one week in mid-November; this year through November 22. You can sample festival offerings early with the popular Evenings With… author series, or get the full range of offerings at the street fair and its Festival of Authors. The street fair runs Friday through Sunday of this second weekend, and includes hundreds of U.S. and Latin American authors, plus street theatre, art exhibits, music, chef demonstrations, a food court, and more.
Pro Tip: A good place to start browsing is the helpful program, which breaks down events by timing, age appropriateness, and book themes. You can then create your own schedule of events so you don’t miss your favorite authors.
Good to Know: The current Miami Book Fair is ongoing through this Sunday in downtown Miami.
Tennessee Williams Literary Festival
“Stellaaaaaaaaaaaaa!” Every year, thousands swarm the French Quarter during the Tennessee Williams Literary Festival to eat, drink, and party as only New Orleans does. This festival focuses on Southern literary culture, past and present, and pays specific homage to Tennessee Williams. To honor Williams’ impact as a playwright, the Festival offers lively theater and theatrical events, and celebrates the art of New Orleans-style living. Additional events range from author readings, to literary panels, to the beloved Stanley and Stella Shouting Contest, where festival-goers go toe-to-toe on French Quarter streets to see who can best Stanley Kowalski’s epic shout in “A Streetcar Named Desire.”
Pro Tip: For the full New Orleans experience, book early so you can stay at sponsoring venue Hotel Monteleone. You won’t want to miss the Carousel Bar & Lounge in its lobby, where you can drink and digest the day’s events on the bar’s 25-seat golden merry-go-round, which rotates a slow 360 degrees as you sip cocktails.
Good to Know: The next Tennessee Williams Literary Festival takes place March 30 to April 3, 2016 in various venues in the French Quarter of New Orleans. The festival includes both free and paid events.
Los Angeles Times Festival of Books
As the largest literary festival in the country, the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books has epitomized the art of bibliomania for the last 30 years. Its star-studded author and speaker list testifies to the city’s monumental creative communities. Food trucks, live art installations, music, a photo booth, and performances round out the displays of creative talent. The festival is free, but book lovers, beware: rows upon rows of stalls with new and old books, and book-related paraphernalia are an open invitation to throw budgetary caution to the wind.
Pro Tip: The two-day festival is free, but tickets are required for the Indoor Conversations series. You’ll want to reserve those tickets in advance. Bibliophiles should consider the Festival Pass or Super Pass, which offer different levels of access. Also be warned: parking is tough and crowds are large. Carpooling and patience are your friends.
Good to Know: The next Los Angeles Times Festival of Books is April 9 and 10, 2016 at the University of Southern California. The festival is free but requires a ticket, which you should reserve in advance.
PEN World Voice Festival of International Literature
For 91 years, the PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature has celebrated the transformative power of the written world. Hosted by the PEN American Centre, the U.S. branch of the world's oldest international literary, this weeklong New York City festival offers music, theater, film, readings, discussions, and events with international authors, artists, and cultural voices. Past luminaries include Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Orhan Pamuk, Toni Morrison, Yusef Komunyakaa, and Mario Vargas Llosa. A not-to-be missed opportunity to hear, see, and meet literary and cultural leaders from across the world.
Pro Tip: The PEN World Voices Festival will send you around the globe without leaving New York City. With settings as diverse as the Wall Street, the Nuyorican Poets Café, The Cooper Union, and The Studio Museum in Harlem, you’ll experience worlds within New York City as well as the world outside of it.
Texas Book Festival
Everything is bigger in Texas, and the Texas Book Festival is no exception. This free festival combines wide-open spaces and award-winning authors in and around the State Capitol in downtown Austin. The heart of the festival is its distinguished author list, which consistently ranges from Noble Prize- to Newbery Award-winners to entirely new voices. Satellite events include the literary mayhem of the Lit Crawl Austin (think trivia meets cocktails and adult coloring contests) and the elegant First Edition Literary Gala, which raises funds for low-income Texas schoolchildren.