Book festivals to discover this spring

RReading is certainly a solitary activity, but even the most diehard and introverted book lovers love to discuss their last read with a friend or two. Luckily, there are a few festivals where you can get all your literary kicks, rub shoulders with your favorite authors, and check out your most beloved books with like-minded festival-goers. From the biggest literary event in the country to the very first in Santa Fe, here are three literary festivals to include in your travel plans this spring.

1. The LA Times Book Festival

When: April 23-24
Or: Los Angeles, California
Cost: Free

For the past two years, during the COVID pandemic, the biggest literary event in the United States – a staple of the Los Angeles literary community since 1996 – has held its festivities online. This year the LA Times Book Festival pulls out all the stops with a lineup that includes more than 500 writers, chefs, musicians and artists on the traditional festival grounds on the 226-acre campus of the University of Southern California. Some notable names on the record include novelist Jonathan Franzen, Moonlight actress and musician Janelle Monae, X-Files actor David Duchovny and America’s first National Youth Poet Laureate and Westchester native, Amanda Gorman, who wowed audiences across the country with her poem, ‘The Hill We Climb,’ which she read at President Biden’s inauguration in 2021. Some activities guests can expect include expert panels, live music, celebrity author interviews, Spanish-language programs, and poetry readings. Admission to the festival is always free, but expect to pay $14 for parking if you want to leave your ride on the USC campus.

Santa Fe celebrates its rich literary past with its first book festival.

2. Santa Fe Literary Festival

When: May 20-23
Or: Santa Fe, New Mexico
Cost: VIP full-access festival passes start at $1,700, day passes from $200

With its scenic high desert and mountain landscapes, Santa Fe has attracted all sorts of creative types over the years, including artists like Georgia O’Keefe and writers like Cormac McCarthy, who sought quiet solitude and inspiration. . Today, the different city celebrates its legendary literary traditions with its very first Santa Fe Literary Festival. The four-day celebration features 30 different events over four days, which include things like morning meditations, author talks, afternoon teas, and cocktail parties. However, perhaps the most exciting thing about the festival is the caliber of authors who will take part. Some big names on the list include Margaret Atwood (Maid’s Talee), Sandra Cisneros (The Mango Street House), Colson Whitehead (The Nickel Boys), and even The iron Throne author George RR Martin, who maintains a residence in the city and has previously tried to build a castle in his yard. While SFLF’s main events take place at the Santa Fe Convention Center, festival-goers can also experience northern New Mexico with small-group tours that explore the region’s rich cultural history and enchanting landscape.

The Bay Area Book Festival also offers free live performances in addition to its usual book fare.

3. Bay Area Book Festival

When: May 7-8
Or: Berkeley, California
Cost: General Admission starts at $15

After two years of being totally virtual, the Bay Area Book Festival is back with a busy weekend in person. Among the 70 events that will be available this year, the eighth of the festival, some highlights include sessions that examine the literary legacy of the Black Panthers, discussions of iconic historical mysteries of the 20th century, and workshops that give readers (and writers) advice on how to start their own local literary communities. Guest speakers this year include poet Hanif Abdurraqib, Booker Prize winner Douglas Stuart (Young Mungo), and Mega author Kim Stanley Robinson.

And don’t worry about not having to do anything during the downtime between speakers; one of the festival’s biggest draws is its free outdoor programming dotted throughout downtown Berkeley, where you can browse the 150 literary exhibits and catch performances, all within walking distance. Plus, with kid-friendly events scheduled throughout the weekend, the whole family is sure to be entertained. If you can’t make it to the Bay Area, pick up a virtual wristband and live stream some of the festival events wherever you are in the world.

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Angela C. Hale