Few experiences inspire and motivate you to start writing more than attending a writer’s conference.
Working on your craft, meeting other writers and listening to accomplished authors speak about their experiences gives you the tools and mindset you need to achieve your goals.
What could make it better? Travel, and make it a cultural experience!
We found 24 English-speaking, international writer’s conferences and festivals located around the world. Add one to your travel itinerary for 2017, and meet writers and book lovers abroad.
(Looking for U.S.-based conferences? Check out our list of 30 writer’s conferences for authors, bloggers and freelancers.)
When: Annually in October
Where: Surrey, British Columbia
The Surrey International Writers’ Conference is the “most comprehensive conference of its kind in Canada.”
Open to writers of all levels and genres, the conference offers an opportunity to show off your work to the international literary marketplace as well as to hone your craft and business skills.
When: Annually in October
Where: Vancouver, British Columbia
In the cultural heart of Vancouver, B.C., on Granville Island, this festival invites authors, poets, spoken word performers and graphic novelists to celebrate the art of the story. It takes place for six days each October and continues throughout the year through the Incite reading series.
In its own words: “The Vancouver Writers Fest turns reading into a community experience, bringing people together to share thoughts, explore ideas and witness brilliant conversations.”
When: First weekend of June
Where: Wingham, Ontario
This annual festival includes readings, workshops, masterclasses and lectures, as well as opportunities to mingle with other writers. It also includes the Alice Munro Short Story Contest for youth and adults. Submissions open in January.
The festival is open to writers from anywhere, but you have to be a Canadian writer to enter the contest.
When: April 24-30, 2017
Where: Montreal, Quebec
This bilingual (English/French) festival features programming for adults and children. Attendees enjoy workshops, readings and lectures from speakers across genres of writing and art.
The festival is free to attend, but you’ll have to pay a fee for select activities.
When: April 6-9, 2017
Where: Hamilton, Ontario
This four-day festival is a celebration of Canadian authors. Its purpose is to highlight local writers and engage with the community.
In its own words, “gritLIT aims to make Hamilton, often thought of as a gritty city, a destination for book-loving audiences as well as for authors from coast to coast.”
When: October 19-29, 2017
Where: Toronto, Ontario
Since 1974, this popular festival has highlighted authors of contemporary literature. It includes 11 days of readings, interviews, artist talks, round-table discussions, book signings and several special events.
IFOA features novelists, poets, playwrights, short story writers and biographers from Canada and around the world.
The Toronto Star called this Canada’s “premier literary festival” and “a top destination for both international superstars and up-and-coming writers.”
When: July 14-16, 2-17
Where: Lakefield, Ontario
In its own words, the festival, “showcases Canadian authors and promotes the joy of reading and writing among children and adults.” It includes author readings and masterclasses in writing for all ages.
Admission price per event ranges between about CA$20 and CA$30.
When: October 12-22, 2017
Where: Edmonton, Alberta
LitFest celebrates nonfiction through readings, lectures, panel discussions and workshops. It covers diverse topics — from food writing to feminism. Several events are free. Paid events run about CA$12 each.
When: April 27-May 2, and October 19-24, 2017
Where: Ottawa, Ontario
This festival celebrates ideas and imagination! In its own words:
“Twice a year, we convene an international celebration of ideas to recharge our imaginations. From politics to poetry, science to music, history to thrillers, we celebrate the full diversity of the word and the gifted writers who guide us in our exploration of the world.”
Programming includes a poetry cabaret, town-hall style discussion, and fiction and nonfiction readings. To celebrate writing “outside the pages of books,” the festival often includes staged play readings, feature films, documentaries, CD launches and songwriter circles.
When: August 11-13, 2017
Where: Calgary, Alberta
Readers, wriers, editors, publishers, agents and other artists attend this festival, which highlights commercial and literary fiction. When Words Collide welcomes writers of most genre fiction, YA, children’s books, nonfiction and poetry.
UK and Ireland
When: March 14-16, 2017
Where: London, UK
In its own words: “The London Book Fair is the global marketplace for rights negotiation and the sale and distribution of content across print, audio, TV, film and digital channels.”
LBF brings together authors, publishers, and readers in the cultural hub of London to explore and understand the rapidly-changing publishing world.
When: July 7, 2017
Where: London, UK
This conference has something for every book lover! Since 2003, it has brought writers, readers, publishers, librarians and more together to discuss the history, present and future of publishing.
Attendees have the opportunity to share scholarly work, learn more about key issues in the industry and network with peers.
When: May 31-June 4, 2017
Where: Listowel, County Kerry, Ireland
Running nearly 50 years, this annual festival includes writing workshops, readings, interviews, forums, book launches and — why not? — pub trails! Enjoy tours of the historic Irish town and access to local and international writers.
The festival also includes several writing competitions for novel, short story, humor and playwriting. Awards even exist for sports journalism, writing for readers with special needs and writing in prisons.
When: June 2-4, 2017
Where: London, UK
This relatively new festival celebrates the diverse history of the area. It says:
“From the non-conformists who gathered around Newington Green in the 17th century to the diverse community that exists today, Stoke Newington has long been a melting pot of new ideas, artistic endeavour and off-center thinking, and our programming is directly inspired by the mavericks and rabble-rousers.”
Free and paid events feature readings and performances across genres and media. Admission to paid events ranges from £3 to £12.50.
When: April 27-30, 2017
Where: Strokestown, County Roscommon, Ireland
This annual festival includes readings from several established and up-and-coming poets, a poetry workshop and poetry competitions for poems in English and Irish.
Note: The submission date for the 2017 competitions has passed.
16. Hay Festival
When: May 25-June 4, 2017
Where: Hay-on-Wye, Wales
Bill Clinton dubbed this festival “Woodstock of the mind,” according to The Telegraph.
The Hay Festival in Wales joins coinciding festivals around the world to celebrate writing of all kinds through panel discussions and lectures.
In its own words, “Hay celebrates great writing from poets and scientists, lyricists and comedians, novelists and environmentalists, and the power of great ideas to transform our way of thinking.
When: July 18-21, 2017
Where: Canterbury, Kent, UK
Originally the Warnborough College Conference on the Arts, this conference has grown to accommondate an international audience. It welcomes artists in all disciplines and media, academics and students, and historians and other professionals.
Participants have the opportunity to share and publish research, and network with peers. The conference includes creative writing and visual art workshops, as well as presentations of art in a variety of media.
When: June 30-July 9, 2017
Where: Ledbury, UK
The Daily Mail called this festival, now in its 21st year, “the world’s most diverse poetry festival.”
It really has something for everyone. The festival features an array of community events to celebrate the writing and performance of poetry. Attend readings, writing workshops, panel discussion, musical performances, craft seminars and open mics in the “lively and picturesque market town” of Ledbury.
It also includes programs for new writers and a poetry competition.
When: September 17-23, 2017
Where: Erice, Sicily
This seven-day writers conference takes place in the beautiful, ancient town of Erice.
Attendance is limited to just five groups of six participants for an intimate experience.
The conference includes small-group workshops, plus classes and lectures for all attendees. It’s open to fiction, poetry and nonfiction writers.
For additional options, check out sister Bread Loaf conferences in Ripton, Vermont.
When: April 5-9, 2017
Where: Reykjavik, Iceland
Whether you’re aspiring, published or write as a hobby, you’re welcome to join this international writing retreat. It includes small-group workshops, dinner and receptions for networking and tours of the area.
This program focuses on literary fiction and nonfiction books, so it’s not a good fit if you want to learn more about freelancing, online writing, genre fiction, poetry or other media.
When: June 1-4, 2017
Where: Reykjavik, Iceland
In its own words:
“The NonfictioNOW Conference is a regular gathering of over 400 nonfiction writers, teachers and students from around the world in an effort to explore the past, present, and future of nonfiction.”
Roundtable discussions and keynote speakers highlight a variety of nonfiction, including memoir, essay and literary journalism; and multimedia, including graphic and video essay.
When: August 25-September 3, 2017
Where: Melbourne, Australia
This festival for readers, writers and thinkers engages participants through, storytelling, discussion, intellectual debate, educational programs, live performance, music and art events.
Enjoy writing workshops, lectures and panel discussions on all forms of creative writing.
When: February 15-19, 2017
Where: San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato
Established and emerging writers are welcome at this prestigious mutlicultural, bilingual (English/Spanish) writers’ conference and literary festival.
Get a chance to network with writers from around the world and hone your craft through workshops, masterclasses, keynote presentations, panel discussions and seminars.
And don’t forget the beautiful location! Bill Maxwell, opinion columnist at Tampa Bay Times, said of his recent experience in San Miguel:
“Rarely have I fallen in love with a landlocked city. … This is a magical place, starting with its colonial architecture. Many of its large and colorful homes are nestled among jacaranda and decorated with bougainvillea. As I walked the narrow cobblestone streets, music and gaiety greeted me.”
When: Winter (2017 dates TBA)
Where: Oaxaca, Mexico
This conference by nonprofit literary organization U.S. Poets in Mexico attracts creative writing professors, published poets, MFA and undergraduate students, and any poets who want to improve their craft and network with peers.
Participants enjoy small-group workshops, roundtable discussions, translation workshops and poetry readings. The conference also offers excursions to archaeological sites and cultural spots in Mexico, “so that poets can establish a sense of place and become familiar with Mexican culture.”
Do you plan to attend a writer’s conference in 2017? Where are you headed?
Dana Sitar (@danasitar) has written for The Penny Hoarder, Huffington Post, Entrepreneur.com, Writer’s Digest and more. She writes about writing, life, comedy and love, attempting humor wherever it’s allowed (and sometimes where it’s not).