Record attendance and revenues wrap up Vancouver Writers Fest

Photo of acclaimed author Colm Tóibín by Steve Pyke

Breaking all previous attendance and revenue records, the Vancouver Writers Fest wrapped up Sunday with a ticket count of more than 16,350, a record-setting 84 events and revenues up more than 14%.

“For 27 years now, audiences have been enthusiastically supporting this Festival, and their enthusiasm seems to grow more every year,” says Hal Wake, Artistic Director of the Festival. “Granville Island becomes a book lover’s paradise during the Festival, allowing people to take in events that range from a musical cabaret to spoken word performances to thoughtful discussions to side-splitting readings over tea and scones. Great events for students from kindergarten to senior high school, as well as events in French, bring people from near and far. We are delighted with the response from audiences this week.”

The Festival ended Sunday evening with two internationally acclaimed authors, American Jane Smiley and Ireland’s Colm Tóibín, talking about the genesis of their story ideas, reflecting on their families’ influence on their craft and singing an impromptu duet.

The star-studded lineup included popular Canadian authors Ann-Marie MacDonald, Emma Donoghue, Caroline Adderson, Terry Fallis, Michael Crummey, poet George Elliot Clarke, Sarah Ellis, Steven Galloway, Charles Foran, Thomas King, Miriam Toews and many others. Neuroscientist Daniel Levitin spoke to a sold-out house as part of the non-fiction lineup. Booker Prize-nominated author Joshua Ferris joined IMPAC Dublin Literary Award nominee Karl Ove Knausgaard. More than 100 national and international authors appeared at events on Granville Island, coming to Vancouver from South Africa, Norway, Iceland, Lebanon, New Zealand, Australia, the US, the UK, Ireland, France and the Netherlands.

Thirty-three events for school groups took place over the first four days of the Festival, with students coming from throughout the Lower Mainland to see authors talking about writing and reading in both French and English.

“The Writers Fest attracts some of the best authors writing in the world today,” says Wake. “Events were packed with award nominees for the Booker Prize, the Giller Prize, the Governor General’s Literary Awards, the National Book Award, IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, the Hilary Weston non-fiction prize and the Rogers Writers Trust Prize. Our audiences are knowledgeable as well as welcoming and that reputation brings authors from all corners of the globe to Vancouver.”

More than 350 volunteers assisted in running this Festival, with almost 80 per cent of those returning to the Festival as volunteers from previous years.

Three more special events follow in November. Legendary Canadian singer and songwriter Bruce Cockburn presents his memoir, Rumours of Glory, on Nov. 10. And on Nov. 13, Alan Doyle, Newfoundland singer-songwriter and front man of Great Big Sea, talks about his new memoir at the Waterfront Theatre on Granville Island while at St. Andrew’s-Wesley, Conrad Black is the Festival’s guest as he presents his re-examination of the history of Canada.

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