Even in gloomy weather like last year the Sydney Writers Festival is always a packed out event
The Sydney Writers' Festival is a yearly event that will be taking place from Monday 19th to Sunday 25th May in 2014. The Festival program has recently been announced, and the line up this year is an incredible one. Including big names such as David Malouf, Amy Tan, Sarah Blasko, Michelle de Kretser, Kate Cebrano and even a special early event with Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan, 2014 looks to be one of the best festivals yet.
The Festival always attracts big names, like last year's guest superstar Molly Ringwald.
The Sydney Writers' Festival is full of both free and paid events, some of which require bookings. Every year it is very popular, attracting thousands of attendees, so if there is something you especially want to go to you need to be quick. Events that require bookings do book out quickly, and as tickets are now on sale, you should get in as soon as possible. For events that don't require bookings, get there as early as you can on the day. Last year I was forty-five minutes early for an event, found a line already there, and missed out on getting in (they cut off the line when capacity is filled).
A majority of the events are held at Hickson Road in Walsh Bay, utilising the Sydney Theatre and Sydney Dance Company studios and loft spaces. However a few events take place at different locations, such as the Sydney Town Hall. Neither of these places offer good parking, and they get very crowded for the entire week, so I would definitely take public transport if possible. Also, take an umbrella – last year it bucketed down, and a number of the places where you needed to line up were not under cover.
Free tickets can sometimes be won to sold out events so keep an eye on social media
Every year there is also a book store that sells a number of books by the guest authors you'll see at the festival. This is a great chance to buy books to get them signed. There's also food and coffee on sale, so you can have a bite to eat between talks.
Last year I was lucky enough to win tickets to see a talk and attend a book signing by author and eighties movie superstar Molly Ringwald. These were won through Twitter after all the tickets had sold out, so I would definitely recommend following the Sydney Writers' Festival account if you are on Twitter. You never know what you might get free tickets to.
The Town Hall is a location you'll find many talks from guest speakers
While the waiting times for the non-booking events can be long, and the space is almost not big enough to hold the festival anymore, the Sydney Writers' Festival goes out of its way to make it as pleasant an experience as possible. Most people working there are volunteers, and choose to volunteer because of their love for books and writing. They are ready to help anyone who is looking for a particular venue, or give any other advice. While waiting in one very long line, I was actually treated to some slam poetry by a volunteer who gave a fantastic performance that made the time go quicker.
Be sure to buy some books while there, as you might have the opportunity to get them signed.
In 2014 there will be talks from Australian and international bestselling and award winning authors, politicians, musicians, biographers, journalists and actors. A few events I'm particularly looking forward to this year are the closing address by author Emma Donoghue on the transformative powers of literature, 'Animated Stories' which is a discussion with Australia's leading animation company Animal Logic, and a talk from Australian fashion designer Collette Dinnigan about her career.
Whether you're interested in becoming a writer, already are, like the publishing industry, or are just a big fan of books, there is almost certainly something at the Festival for you. Just get in quick for tickets, or arrive early on the day to try and avoid disappointment.
Where: Various venues - check website for details http://www.swf.org.au/
Why: To hear from some of the industry's best
Cost: Many events are free, but some are ticketed. Check website for details.
When: 19 - 25 May 2014
Good for kids: There are a couple of kid-specific events, many of which are held at schools. The others should all be left for adults though.