June 17, 2019 / By Claire Atteia
Attending a writer’s festival this winter is high on my to-do list. Aside from celebrating all things word-related with like-minded individuals over a fine glass of wine, I’m looking forward to hearing brave new thoughts and ideas from well-known local and international writers. With most festival programs including literary panels, Q&As, workshops and more, there is much for writers, thinkers and readers to enjoy.
Big and small festivals are happening across Victoria this winter, so it's time to grab your calendar and get ready to be inspired (and thanks to the Mildura Writers Festival for the fabulous images in this guide!)
Willy Lit fest - Williamstown, 15 – 16 June
The Williamstown Literary Festival is one of Australia's most respected wordfests, attracting many well-loved authors, and maintaining a strong focus on local participation. This years headline festival guests include Andy Griffiths and veteran journalist Kerry O’Brien. There's also the annual People’s Choice awards showcasing aspiring local writers and poets. So head to Williamstown for rich literary pickings and plenty of robust discussions.
Emerging Writers’ Festival - Melbourne, 19 – 29 June
One of Australia’s most established literary festivals, the Emerging Writers’ Festival celebrates creativity and innovation , nurtures new and emerging talent, and brings diverse voices to new audiences. The festival offers masterclasses, exhibitions, intensives and a writers' night school. Be sure to head along and hear from writers at all stages of their careers including speaker and activist Carly Findlay and author Megan Blandford. With so much going on across Melbourne throughout the 10 days of the Festival, you'll need to grab a cuppa before you check out the full program on the Festival website.
Glen Eira Storytelling Festival - Glen Eira, 22 June - 7 July
Bringing captivating and meaningful stories to the community, the Glen Eira Storytelling Festival embraces storytelling in all its forms, and for all ages and interests. Stories help shine light in dark corners and bring people together, and this year's festival program is jam-packed with fabulous events. My choice not to miss? Matriarch, a one-woman show celebrating the strength and resilience of four generations of Indigenous women. Winner of two Melbourne Fringe Festival Awards, nominated for two Green Room Awards and winning Best Independent Theatre Performer 2019, there are two shows, at 5.00 pm and 8.00 pm on Saturday 22 June.
Midwinter words - Portalington, 12 - 14 July
Portarlington’s annual literary weekend this year features well-known Australian poet, Julie Maclean. On the opening night, join Julie for a discussion about her work and hear some of her award-winning poems read. Over the three days, other events include a writers’ salon and poetry workshop.
Mildura Writers Festival - Mildura, 18 – 21 July
A "fabulously classy event" the Mildura Writers festival, held each July, features four days of words, food and wine. Including local and international writers, the festival invites guests and audience to mingle freely and to share thoughtful, entertaining and challenging ideas about writing and literature. Highlights include an in-conversation with Helen Garner and David Marr, and a festival dinner with Maggie Beer. For a stimulating few days, head a little north in Victoria and you’ll soon see why visitors return year after year to this festival in the great town of Mildura.
Bendigo Writers Festival - Bendigo, 9 – 11 August
In mid-August, over 100 will writers gather in Bendigo for the annual three-day Bendigo Writers festival with discussions on everything from poetry to politics. With a jam-packed program full of events for young and old, this year sees a variety of big names in town. From food critics Jill Dupleix and Terry Durack, to authors Meshel Laurie, Chloe Hooper and Alice Pung, it’s these kind of names that’ll draw the crowds to this charming town in central Victoria.
Phillip Island Festival of Stories - Phillip Island, 26 – 28 July
The Phillip Island Festival of Stories celebrates storytelling in all its forms – from songs and comedy to visual art and theatre. This year, head to beautiful Phillip Island to hear wonderful stories on battling pirates, preventing a nuclear war and real-life ghost stories. There is something for everyone and you’ll no doubt come away inspired.
Apollo Bay Word Fest - Apollo Bay, 27 – 28 July
A weekend full of literary events guaranteed to engage our inner wordsmiths, reader and writer. At the Apollo Bay Word Fest, you can join in a cryptic crossword workshop with David Astle or hear from local writers like Mark Brandi and Angela Savage as they discuss their passion for language and its uses. The festivals theme this year is ‘Crime’, so go with an open mind and you'll be sure to enjoy.
Melbourne Writers Festival - Melbourne, 30 August – 8 September
The biggest literary event of the year is no doubt the Melbourne Writers festival. For over 30 years now, the festival brings artists from all around the world to town to celebrate literature and for the lively discussion of brave new ideas. The festival provides a forum for inviting innovative political and cultural discussion. This years program is yet to be finalised, but no doubt it will be a dynamic and thought-provoking that presents writers of appeal to audiences of all ages and background. Tickets go on sale in July, so in the meantime, find a fellow literature lover and save the dates in your diary.