Skip to main content Skip to search Skip to search

Interviews, Recommendations, and More

2012 Canadian Literary Festivals: Guide to the Pre-Season

These literary festivals are a spring-like harbinger of packed weekends to come.

"Literary Festival Season starts early here in Canada," we wrote last summer when we took you on a virtural journey of 2011 literary festivals from coast to coast. And indeed it does. We're only in February, but the 2012 fests are nearly upon us after a brief winter break, the busy calendar a spring-like harbinger of packed weekends to come. Which is not to say that these early festivals are a kind of warm-up, any less exciting than those held at the height of summer. A glance through the festivals' highlights makes clear that we're in the thick of things already.

The 6th Annual African Canadian Children's Literary Festival takes place on February 18 and 19 at York Woods Library in Toronto and features writing workshops, author readings, discussion panels, and storytelling by Mutamba Rainos and Sandra Whiting.


The Galiano Island Literary Festival runs from February 24 to 26 in Galiano Island BC with a focus this year on "Books: Windows to the Past, Present and Future." Events include readings by Kit Pearson, Zsuzsi Gartner, Susan Juby, Gary Geddes, Grant Lawrence, Timothy Taylor. Also scheduled are panel discussions, writing workshops, and a Bruce Springsteen celebration on the festival's closing day featuring a reading by Robert J. Wiersema.

SaltSpring Words Without Borders

Also from February 24 to 26, the Salt Spring Words Without Borders festival takes place on Salt Spring Island BC as a celebration of Freedom to Read Week. Shelagh Rogers is leading a discussion on freedom of expression with Bridget DePape, Charles Foran, and Carmen Arguille, readings will be performed by Esi Edugyan, Susan Musgrave, and Foran, and the schedule is packed with other local events (and white wine and heaps of crab-legs!).

From February 28 to March 4, Versefest happens in Ottawa. The poetry festival features poets including Suzanne Buffam, Dennis Lee, Afua Cooper, Helen Humphreys, Roo Borson, Poet Laureate Fred Wah, Pearl Pirie, Phil Hall, and many others (as well as musicians, slam poets, and workshop leaders).

Grit Lit Logo

GritLit is the literary festival in Hamilton ON, and takes place from March 28 to April 1. Featured authors include Lynn Coady, Stephanie Bolster, Marina Endicott, Will Ferguson, Suzette Mayr, Evan Munday, Sylvia Tyson and Robert J. Wiersema.

It's the first year for LIT FEST New West in New Westminster BC. The event will be held on April 12-14.

The 2012 Blue Metropolis Montreal International Literary Festival happens from April 18-23. Featured Canadian authors include Ray Robertson, Kim Thúy, Tamara Faith Berger, Nicole Lundrigan and Kathleen Winter.

Vancouver's North Shore Writers Festival takes place on April 21 with appearances by Marina Endicott, Anita Rau Badami, and Daniel Kalla.


The Frye Festival happens in Moncton NB from April 23-29, and promises "something for everybody". Authors include Dave Bidini, John Doyle, Marina Endicott, Terry Fallis, Marie Louise Gay, David Gilmour, Sue Goyette, Riel Nason, and Eva Stachniak.

The Ottawa International Writers Festival runs from April 26-April 30, featuring writers including Lauren B. Davis, Linden MacIntyre, and Gretta Vosper.

The kids are going to love Bookfest 2012, the Vancouver Island Children's Book Festival featuring Michael Kusugak, Julie Lawson, Julie Flett, Paul Yee, and Andrea Beck.

Details are still forthcoming on Sudbury's French book festival Salon du Livre, which runs from May 10-13.

The Ontario Library Association's Festival of Trees takes place from May 15-18 in Toronto, Ottawa and Thunder Bay, with satellite events being held in other towns and cities.

On May 27, The Elora Writers' Festival takes place in Elora ON, featuring Erin Bow, Robert Hough, Keith Ross Leckie, Ken McGoogan, Howard Shrier and Carolyn Smart.

The Ridgeway Reads 2012 Festival runs from June 1-3 in Fort Erie ON. Scheduled authors include Cathy Marie Buchanan, Charles Foran, Douglas Gibson, Katherine Govier, Olive Senior, Andrew Westoll and Richard B. Wright.

The Stellar Literary Festival stages its 6th annual event this year on June 24th on Parkwood Estate, Oshawa ON to promote new and emerging authors, poets, songwriters, storytellers and filmmakers in Durham Region and the Greater Toronto Area. 

Also still in the works is the Niagara Literary Arts Festival, featuring events throughout June.

Is your event missing? Email us at editorATcdnbookshelfDOTcom, and we'll add it to the schedule.

Comments here

comments powered by Disqus

More from the Blog