General Backgrounder


General Information about the Vancouver Writers Fest

  • Annual Festival takes place for six days each October, beginning a week after Canadian Thanksgiving. This year's Festival is October 18-23, 2016.
  • Held on Granville Island in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, which has at least six different venues in which events take place
  • This year the Festival includes 87 events—panel discussions, performances, interviews, readings, musical events—which feature one or several writers whose books have been published in English
  • This is the 29th year of the Festival, which began in 1988.
  • Events feature fiction, non-fiction, poetry, spoken word, musical accompaniment, performance and more
  • Writers attend by invitation from the Festival’s Artistic Director, Hal Wake
  • Usually about 100 international and Canadian writers are featured
  • Six-day Festival attracts more than 16,000 people
  • Festival features more than 30 events specifically aimed at school-aged students from kindergarten to Grade 12, held during the first days of the Festival. The schools program, Spreading the Word, is one of the largest children’s literary events in Canada.
  • Vancouver Writers Fest began as the idea of founding artistic director Alma Lee, who has been awarded an honorary doctorate degree from Simon Fraser University and made a Member of the Order of Canada for her work
  • The Writers Fest depends for funding on a combination of public sector funding, ticket sales, advertising revenue, corporate support and individual donations
  • More than 350 volunteers are actively involved, both before and during the Festival
  • Outside of the week in October, the Writers Fest presents a twice-monthly reading series called Incite at the VPL between January and May. The Writers Fest also often hosts events with writers at other times of the year, depending on writers’ availability and publishers’ launch schedules
  • The Writers Fest has presented some of the world’s best writers to readers, including Martin Amis, Margaret Atwood, Maeve Binchy, Peter Carey, Roddy Doyle, Timothy Findley, Tomson Highway, John Irving, P.D. James, Thomas Keneally, Frank McCourt, Ian McEwan, Rohinton Mistry, Alice Munro, Michael Ondaatje, Anita Rau Badami, Peter Robinson, JK Rowling, Salman Rushdie and Carol Shields

For media enquiries about the Vancouver Writers Fest or to set up interviews with Writers Fest staff or Festival authors, please contact: Zoe Grams, Marketing & Publicity Manager, at