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2014 Literary Festival Guide

Summer is here! And so are the festivals...

As of early morning last Saturday, summer is here, which means that Literary Festival Season will be arriving not long after. To ensure you make the most of it, we've once again compiled a handy guide to literary festivals across the country from here 'til November. Check out what's happening in your area, or at your vacation destination.

Or maybe even plan a trip around one of these stellar fests, so that new Canadian books and new Canadian places might be discovered together. 


In Nelson, BC, the Elephant Mountain Literary Festival runs July 10–13 with the theme of "Intersections: Geography, Genre, Genius." Scheduled presenters include Angie Abdou, Gail Bowen, Daryn Collier, Douglas Gibson, Donna Morrissey, and Eleanor Wachtel. The Lakefield Literary Festival kicks things off July 11–13 in Lakefield, ON, with featured authors including Charlotte Gray, Lawrence Hill, Maureen Jennings, Richard Wagamese, and Sheree Fitch. This year, Read by the Sea returns to River John, NS, for its 15th anniversary. Arrive at the Legion Gardens to spend the afternoon with writers including Guy Vanderhaeghe, Sharon Butala, Steven Galloway, and more! This year, the Saskatchewan Festival of Words runs from July 17–20 in Moose Jaw, SK, the lineup including acclaimed authors such as Beverly Brenna, Ted Barris, Cassie Stocks, Claire Cameron, Gail Bowen, Miriam Toews, Steven Galloway, Wayne Johnston, and Merilyn Simonds.

The Leacock Summer Festival takes place in Orillia, ON, July 21–27. Scheduled authors include Wayne Johnston, Terry Fallis, Kim Moritsugu, Mark Kingwell, M.A.C. Farrant, and Trevor Cole. Turn up in Eastport Peninsula, NL, August 8–10 for the Winterset in Summer Literary Festival. They're expecting Steven Galloway, Ross King, Vicki Murphy, Lisa Moore and Donna Morrissey, and all events are underlined by the festival's conviction that, "the best way to achieve quality is good company, a good discussion, and a good party." Another party a few provinces away is When Words Collide 2014, also August 8–10, in Calgary, AB. Featured Canadians include Jacqueline Guest, Mark Leslie, DJ McIntosh, and Jack Whyte. 

Logo Writers at Woody Point

From August 12 to 17 in Bonne Bay, South NL, Writers at Woody Point puts on a great event. Scheduled to appear are Joseph Boyden, Lisa Moore, Michael Crummey, Nicole Lundrigan, Claire Wilkshire, Anthony De Sa, Camilla Gibb, and others. And on the opposite coast, the Sunshine Coast Festival of the Written Arts returns to Sechelt, BC, from August 14 to 17; featured authors include Terry Fallis, Priscila Uppal, Bill Gaston, Kim Thuy, Miriam Toews, Audrey Thomas, Charles Foran, Claire Cameron, Richard Wagamese, Heather O'Neill, and Grant Lawrence. 

Logo Telling Tales

The Eden Mills Writers' Festival comes back this year to Eden Mills, ON, from September 11 to 14. The lineup hasn't been announced yet, but it's always as fantastic as the setting and this year will be no exception. The Telling Tales Family Festival runs on September 14 in Rockton, ON, (near Hamilton); amazing presenters already lined up include Hélène Boudreau, Rukhsana Khan, Lesley Livingston, Ruth Ohi, Dennis Lee, and more more more. 

Word on the Street

The ever-popular Thin Air Winnipeg International Writers Festival runs September 19-27. Once again, in September the Word on the Street Festival will take over the country. On Saturday, September 20, WOTS takes place in Kitchener, ON, and on Sunday September 21, you can catch it in Lethbridge, AB, Saskatoon, SK, Toronto, ON, and Halifax, NS. Storyfest in Hudson, QC, begins its Fall Program on September 23 with Kate Pullinger, and then continues through the season with scheduled authors including Michael Winter, Peter Behrens, Margaret Atwood, Stephanie Bolster, and Romeo Dallaire.

Logo Kingston Writers Fest

The Kingston Writers Fest runs September 24–28 down at the waterfront in Kingston, ON. They've scheduled a fantastic line-up, including a kids' day on Saturday September 27. Authors scheduled for the festival include Eleanor Catton, Kate Pullinger, Kim Thuy, Iain Reid, Shani Mootoo, Lesley Livingston, Nancy Lee, Ian Hamilton, Wayne Grady, and so many more. Also on September 24-28 is Word Vancouver, celebrating books and literacy at venues throughout the city. The Cabot Trail Writers Festival is scheduled for October 3–5 in Baddeck, NS, with a great lineup to be announced any time now. And speaking of announcements, stay tuned for dates for the Victoria Writers Festival

Logo Litfest

Wordfest 2014 comes to Banff, Calgary, and the Bow Valley in Alberta October 14–19. Their events will include poetry and spoken word performances, current event panels, publishing industry workshops, art installations, youth and multilingual programming, in-school presentations and featured events with the biggest and brightest stars of the book scene. Just a bit further north, the non-fiction festival, Litfest, is happening again in Edmonton, AB, October 17–26, with good things in store after a record-setting year in 2013. 

Writers Festival Logo

The Whistler Writers and Readers Festival is taking place October 17–19 this year. Vancouver Writers Fest runs October 21–26. Ottawa's Fall Writers Festival is scheduled for October 23–28. The IFOA in Toronto will run from October 23 to November 2; participants announced so far include Tim Cook, Nick Cutter, Thomas King, Ann-Marie MacDonald, Alison Pick, Adam Sol, Kim Thuy, and Rudy Wiebe. 

October 24–26, readers of Windsor, ON, will be delighted by Bookfest Windsor; confirmed authors so far include KD Miller, Kathleen Winter, Seth, Kate Beaton, and Steven Galloway. The Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival happens November 1–10. The Wild Writers Festival is back in Waterloo, ON, from November 7 to 9. The Words Aloud Festival in Durham, ON, runs November 7–10, with Karen Connelly, Sheniz Janmohamed, and Mary Dalton (more to be announced). Don't miss the Pure Speculation Festival in Edmonton, AB, from November 14 to 16. And check out the inaugural Toronto International Book Fair—Inspire! TIBF—which will run from November 13 to 16 and which will be "part exhibition, part market and part cultural festival, celebrating reading in all forms and embracing all facets of the book trade."

Have we missed anything? Email editor at 49thShelf dot com to have a festival added to the schedule. Canadian book-lovers don't want to miss out. 

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