The Vancouver Writers Fest is a flagship event for the Canadian literary community. They host activities year-round that explore the power of storytelling and books. For the last 33 years, Vancouver Writers Fest has connected people to the power of words and ideas. It all started in 1988 with founding Artistic Director Alma Lee, who wanted to bring more literary joy to Vancouver. To this day, Alma can still be found in the office every week or so and remains an active patron of the festival. Since then, Artistic Directors have also included Hal Wake and Leslie Hurtig. Hal was well known in the community and significantly elevated the festival to an internationally renown event. The festival’s current Director, Leslie, has made outstanding literary strides with the organization, including annual guest curators, which have included Cherie Dimaline, Tanya Talaga, Ivan Coyote and Lawrence Hill. Every year a guest curates several events around their chosen theme, oftentimes related to current events or social movements. Some of the best writers across the globe with multiple award-winning titles have joined their events such as Zadie Smith, Margaret Atwood, David Mitchell, Madeleine Thien, Marlon James, Malcolm Gladwell, and many more.
The Vancouver Writers Fest connects people to exceptional books, ideas and dialogue through year-round programming that ignites a passion for words and the world around us. We host internationally acclaimed authors, along with emerging literary stars, on Granville Island and across Vancouver, as well as virtually. We incorporate a combination of free and ticketed events, along with the addition of an annual Guest Curator, in order to make our events relevant, accessible and exciting.
Vancouver Writers Fest doesn’t just celebrate books and authors but the storytelling and artistic expression of what is happening in the world. They firmly believe books can help create spaces where dialogue can happen and can encapsulate what’s happening in our world at any given time. Encompassing their guiding beliefs, Vancouver Writers Fest has treasured Youth Education Programming that is built to support the next generation of readers, thinkers, and dreamers. One event from their program, Writers in the Classroom, brings award-winning authors to classrooms for free in British Columbia. Students then get to interact directly with authors from the books they have been reading. This initiative has marvellously tripled in attendance since COVID with the ability to add more virtual event slots.
Other significant programs Vancouver Writers Fest has created include:
* Incite: a free reading series in partnership with Vancouver Public Library from January to June each year
* Youth Writing Contest: a short story writing contest, judged by a new guest author each year
* Books & Brunch: a brunch with bestselling authors and their latest releases
* Whiskey & Words: a whisky tasting fundraiser paired with live entertainment by local musicians
* My Roots: an annual, two-day writing workshop that encourages immigrants to develop and share their stories of place
Vancouver Writers Fest has a deep drive to continue improving year after year by listening to their community and each other. Their organization now includes ASL by default on many of their in-person events, live captioning for digital events, and they always ensure they have free events available. They are always striving to be more inclusive and accessible. This is their story. This is Vancouver Writers Fest.