10 Must Attend Writing Events for 2016

10 Must Attend Writing EventsFor a while now, I have been searching for writing conferences. All I come up with are events across the pond in America. That is, until I was talking with my friend Christina, and she mentioned that conferences were probably called festivals here.

Well, what do you know, I had a google and a wealth of events opened up.

In every industry I can think of there is one rule to getting ahead of the game.

Networking. How better to network than a festival full of literary people?!

It’s never really about what you know. It is ALWAYS about who you know. That’s why I want to visit some of these festivals and see who I can bump into, chat with, exchange business cards… you just don’t know where these things will lead.

I make a point of talking about writing constantly. Any new person I meet that asks me what I do, I say the same thing and it always includes writing. And you know, on occasions it’s paid off. Contacts for publishers, agents, friend of a friend knows such and such, I’ll put you in touch. It’s the way the world works, and I’m not afraid to leap in and make it happen.

Without further ado, here is a list of UK writing events:

  1. London’s Short Story Festival, last year it was in June, dates for this year will be released soon. They also run a short story competition and masterclasses which need to be booked in advance.
  2. London Literature Festival held in the Southbank centre, last year it ran from 28th sept to 12th oct. Dates for this year to be released soon. Check out the link for more information. They run a plethora of events with famous guests galore and run a writing weekend for young adults.
  3. Ways With Words has 5 events across the UK and Europe, check this page for more details. Event include festivals and writing retreats
  4. Hay Festival, Hay-on-Wye, Wales 31 May-10 June
  5. Festival of Writing – at York University, last year it hosted extremely famous agents including Madeline Milburn, held in September last year.
  6. Doolin Writers Weekend, fancy a trip to Ireland? This ones right round the corner 4-6 March, with over £2000 in prizes for their competition
  7. Harrogate Crime Writing Festival is 21 -24 July 2016 there is an awe inspiring list of famous crime writers attending, including: Martina Cole, Peter James and Tess Gerritsen
  8. The London Super Comic Convention  is also right around the corner and on the 20 and 21 of Feb in the Excel centre London
  9. Cambridge Literary Festival 5-14 April
  10. Last but by no means least, the Annual Bloggers Bash, 11th June 2016, at the Driver in London. run and organised by me, Ali, Geoff and Hugh. If you don’t know, then it is this years get together for bloggers of all kinds. All are welcome.

ABBA 2016


During my search I found a couple of really useful websites that list hundreds of festivals all over the UK and Europe.

Literary Festivals, lists hundreds of events all over the UK in A-Z order.

Metaphysical Fantasy has a huge list of festivals primarily in the UK but with some worldwide

The Word Travels has a list by month of festivals.

What literary festivals or conferences have you been to or heard of that you recommend? Are you coming to the Bloggers bash? Let me know in the comments below.

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117 comments

  1. The Have festival run a weekend event here in Ireland, in Kells actually which is just down the road. Its only been going a couple of years but each time I’ve not been able to attend for one reason or another. Must make a point of checking it out this year.

  2. Thanks for your post. The February issue of Writing Magazine had an article about all the writing festivals for the year and that was useful but most of what I read is online now so this was great. Thank you! 🙂

      1. Hay is so brilliant – they’ve already got some info up now. Goes on a fortnight – just pick the days that look most interesting re talks/ events and book the tickets. I’ve seen Germane Greer, Sheila, Hancock, Alan Bennett. AA Gill, Sandy Toksvig … loads – fascinating It’s also on SKy ArtsIf you can, do go. They have children’s events as well. And the people who go are so way out , it’s worth it just to people watch. Oh and if you buy a paper you get a free canvas bag – mine date back to 2003

        1. Aweeeesome I will definitely have a look. I’ll check how far it is by car, as Wales is a bit of a mission. Might be we go next year when the boy is older! Those talks look wicked 😊

          1. Well I only have been blogging a very short time and don’t have many followers that is why I haven’t seen one………but I am sure I will come across one sometime….thank you

  3. Great post. I learned about a few festivals I didn’t know about. Here are two more, which are in Scotland (there are others besides these including one, Aye Write!, in Glasgow next month)

    https://www.edbookfest.co.uk/ 13-29 August. Edinburgh is buzzing then as not only is there the book festival there is the Fringe going on at the same time.

    http://www.wigtownbookfestival.com/ This year it runs 23rd Sep – 2nd October. Wigtown is Scotland’s book town. It’s kind of out of the way but it has great writers attending and it is probably the friendliest book festival anywhere.

      1. Maybe there could be a way of finding out if any bloggers are going to be at festivals and arranging a meet up. I’m in an online group of Scottish writers and we usually meet up in Edinburgh for lunch during the festival before going to whichever events we want to attend.

  4. I am going to the Leeds Author event next month and to the evening Masquerade ball they are throwing, would love to have made it down to the bloggers bash this year but sadly actually have the week before off so unless I got a train straight after work on the Saturday would be impossible 🙁 Maybe next year 😀

  5. Just wanted to add Write by the Beach on Saturday March 12 in Brighton. It’s the first Beach Hut Writing Academy conference and it’s a sell out. We’ve just opened a waiting list. The morning is all about finding your story and the afternoon is devoted to opportunities to get your writing in front of readers – linked by a networking lunch. We’ve got bestselling authors, editors, publishers and agents. (And we are busy organising a gin tasting to round off the day….). The support we’ve had has been incredible and we hope to make it a regular event.

    1. Awesome, I love brighton, and it’s just a stones throw, plus its easy for lots of people. Do you have a link? Will you run it next year? I’ll include it in my round up for next year if thats the case. Wish I could have heard about this before with all those guests you mention. 😀

  6. I have rather focused on writers groups to get feed back on my work. The couple of festivals attended needed prep to be successful as all the best talks were over booked – Edinburgh is a case in point. That said Latitude has a literature and poetry tent and they great for a listen and a few QnAs. Probably should do more though since I spent 20 plus years networking as a lawyer, I’m rather tired of the whole conceit now… Did I say excellent post, btw? Must be getting tired. Really, v goo…. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz What? Sorry. Truly v good and helpful. You’re a star.

      1. No it was good. The sleep was not you… Silly. I’m not really big on the professional ones and as for meeting agents and publishers, well unless you are slap bang on the demographic they want writing the genre they think sells, forget it. Old white guy writing standard fiction – yawn; arse kicking lesbian fantasy writer with a lip as fast as Usain B – tick! I hope.

        1. hahahaha arse kicking lesbian proper ha! Not sure about ticking their box, I tick a lot of diversity boxes, but that box…. the box I’d like to tick…. thats a bit harder! :p

  7. Another stellar post, Sacha! Of course, I’m interested in #10. I used to go to regional conferences and workshops to stay in touch with my skills and craft when I had a 9-to-5. Now I work as a writer from home. Feels like 24/7 some months! My biggest interest now is professional development. Maybe because I was a professional for almost 2 decades and grew accustom to conferences being about development, which includes networking, meeting mentors and mentoring others, that’s what I crave in a good conference. It’s hard to find in a writing conference. It’s either craft or creativity or go gawk at the big boys. BinderCon (LA in spring, NY in the fall) is all about professional development and it’s for women and gender non-conforming writers. Because I write about women history has forgotten, it’s a good fit and good timing for my career. Both are important considerations. BinderCon a huge volunteer organization here in the US (Out of the Binders) and the conferences are held on university campuses. Now I’m a part of the volunteer ranks and this year, instead of going to LA I’m bringing LA to Missoula, Montana (across the Idaho border where there’s a robust writing community, Montana Book Festival, Literary Arts organizations and a group called Queer Women Write the West). I think that’s important too — giving back what one has gained from these conferences. Just like you, Geoff, Hugh and Alli do! You all rock! And one year, I will initiate the American invasion…or, if certain parties get elected, the American exodus!

    1. Haha thanks Charli, It’s interesting, because I hadn’t really considered the other side of development. I spend so much of my time learning the craft, I hadn’t really considered professional development. But perhaps I do it without realising. I have been searching for a writing mentor!! I so hope that you do visit one year <3 that year would be spectacular.

  8. Not in the same vein exactly, but up here in Nottinghamshire there’s a Writers Conference (this’ll be my third year of going). I understand it’s sold out for this year, but if anyone is in the East Midlands (or even close to it), it’s worth going to, so keep an eye on it for next year. It’s run by Writing East Midlands and their web-link is:

    http://www.writingeastmidlands.co.uk/opportunities-events/the-writers-conference-2016/

    Have also attended two Self-Publishing conferences in Leicester, which have been helpful. This year’s has just been announced, and might be worth attending for those considering going down this route. The link is:

    http://www.selfpublishingconference.org.uk/registration/4563099306

    Do need to get to some festivals, though.

      1. If you have a look at the website, Sacha, it should give you a programme of events.

        However, the general format has been to have an opening session which includes a couple of speeches from established authors (Matt Haig gave one two years ago). Then there are a series of panel discussions in break-out rooms, so you can choose the ones that suit you best.

        They also organise for literary agents and other authors available so you can have one-to-one meetings with them. These have to be applied for as there is only limited availability. I did have an agent one-to-one at the first one I went to. Got some useful feedback on Ravens Gathering, though it actually helped to confirm for me that I would probably be happier staying Indie.

        Also got to meet Stephen Booth, an author I’d been reading on and off for a few years, and had a long chat with Cathy Bramley – a fairly new chick-lit author – who gave me a lot of tips on marketing.

        The best thing about the event was being in an environment where you were mixing with other writers all at different stages in their writing careers. Overall, it was a mix of contact building, learning and receiving lots of encouragement.

        Although it was at Nottingham University the last two years, this year it’s at Loughborough, so I guess they’re going to try and move around the East Midlands a bit more in future.

        Incidentally, Cathy has encouraged me to go to the Festival of Writing at York you mention. A combination of lack of time and budget has meant I’ve missed it so far. It’s that or the Bloggers Bash this year, I think!

        1. This sounds super super super wicked good. I want to go! Ok, I am gong to have to book in advance next year to make sure I can go before it sells out!

          ohhhh well I am glad you chose the bash instead! we’re way more fun! :p

          Thanks for the low down will have a proper scout of their website, thats the exact type of event I have been looking for.

    1. awesome thanks for letting me know 😀 I did find a couple lists with lots of US events already in the bloggisphere. but you never know when you might find yourself in the right place. Will look up the event. Ta x

  9. Now I’m back living in Wales, the Hay Festival is only about 25 miles away from me, so I’ll certainly pay it a visit. Of course Hay-on-Wye is also known for its bookshops. I’ll have to take some photos because it really is a stunning little town.

  10. I wish there was a little more in the northern half of the country…looks like the nearest one is Harrogate and getting there isn’t easy from Newcastle – London’s actually easier!

    1. There’s a number in Edinburgh though. Thats not too far from Newcastle – wait, that is where you are isn’t it? My aunt lives in Washington and I think she’s only about 1.5 – 2 hours from Edinburgh. BUT COME TO THE BASH!!!!!!!

  11. Great list. I am UK based so it’s good to see there are some local ones – is the York one correct as I thought that was in March or April? I did Hay festival last year. Feels like something every book lover and writer should try to experience and it was good but actually the town intrigued me far more – it’s so wonderful and quaint, literally a town filled with books with an old castle ruins to boot. What more could a writer want for inspiration? KL <3

    1. Ahh hello fellow Brit. Well as a result of this I have collected even more festivals, so I shall have to do another list next January maybe I shall even see you at some of them 😀 I have heard the Hay is amazing, I really want to go, I reckon I will save some pennies and book in next year.

  12. Hay Festival is perhaps one of the best literary festivals out there. A couple of years ago I saw Phillipa Gregory give a talk there and got to meet Cassandra Clare as well. It’s more affordable that some of the other festivals but it puts up huge names and in nice weather it’s a beautiful place to be.

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