We bibliophiles like to walk around nose-deep in a book. But sometimes, learning about our favorite authors’ inspiration can be just as much of a page-turner. Here, we share a few of the world’s best book fairs, where writers of all genres and readers of all ages come together to celebrate a love of the written word.
Why You’ll Like It Wordstock festivalgoers get full access to the Portland Art Museum, which Festival Director Amanda Bullock says inspired the event’s pop-up programming and provides the backdrop for authors’ readings. “We pair authors with the museum’s visual art,” which also influences the style of the reading, Bullock says. “One year, we featured author Sara Jaffe for her book Dryland. The main character is a high schooler on the swim team, and Sarah read in front of an abstract painting that looked a little bit like a pool’s swim lanes.” Wordstock events spill onto the South Park blocks, creating a walkable campus that includes an old church-turned-concert hall.
Bring the Family Admittance to Wordstock is free for everyone under 17, who joins talks by their favorite young-adult bestsellers and writing workshops like last year’s popular comics-making class. Little ones love picture-book story times and singalongs.
While You’re There While you’re in Portland, don’t miss Powell’s Books, the world’s largest independent bookstore that got its start almost 50 years ago. Looking for lodging? Stay footloose and fancy free by booking a room at the historic Heathman Hotel — smack dab in the middle of the downtown campus festival.
Why You’ll Like It For a week each November, Miami’s “literary party” celebrates readers and authors from around the world, including Latin American and Spanish authors who discuss their works alongside 450 authors at Friday’s popular Street Fair. Rare-book enthusiasts flock to the festival for the weekend, when antiquarians showcase signed first editions and original manuscripts.
Bring the Family Thousands of children from schools across South Florida gather at Friday’s Street Fair to participate in Children’s Alley. Events range from readings by children’s book authors to theater and arts-and-crafts activities. This year, young attendees have exclusive access to their own comics and graphic novels section.
While You’re There Convenient to downtown, Miami’s Wynwood Arts District is home to the highest concentration of street art in the country. Take a self-guided tour through the district famous for its high-caliber street art. Every walk leads to a sensory explosion of bold, kaleidoscope patterns, life-size graffiti comic strips, and artistic statements on social issues.
Why You’ll Like It Arguably more a celebration of ideas than books, former President Bill Clinton dubbed the 30-year-running Hay Festival the Woodstock of the Mind when he visited in 2001. The world’s leading scientists, philosophers, performers, activists and novelists converge in Hay-on-Wye, the town of books, for its 11-day literary festival every summer. The Hay Festival is so popular, it’s spawned seven international extensions across six continents.
Bring the Family Young literary revelers meet their heroes and explore new passions at the festival’s HAYDAYS and HAYYA programs. Designed to nurture discovery, drop-in sessions across the festival site teach activities from dance to writing and painting.
While You’re There On a spot of land on the Welsh side of the lush Wales-England border, Hay-on-Wye is home to fewer than 2,000 people — but welcomes more than 200,000 guests on festival week. “The town of Hay is full of wonders — great indie shops, a landscape of heaven, and a whole community who love nothing better than throwing a party for their friends,” says Christopher Boone, publicity director. Some hotels book up at least a year out, so many attendees set up camp on the picturesque English countryside just a few miles from the festival and bike in.
Why You’ll Like It From historian David McCullough to thriller David Baldacci, bestselling authors pack the house for one day each fall at the Library of Congress National Book Festival. Founded by former first lady Laura Bush, the event welcomes more than 175 authors, illustrators and poets who spend the day giving talks and signing books for their biggest fans. While you’re there, head over to the Library of Congress pavilion, where you can virtually explore the world’s largest library.
Bring the Family Loveable characters like The Cat in the Hat, Curious George, and Angelina Ballerina pop off the page — and the screen — at the PBS KIDS pavilion, greeting kids for a handshake, a hug or a photo opp. And in the parking lot just behind the Library of Congress pavilion, the Magic School Bus invites kids to hop on for a meeting with Ms. Frizzle. Make way for kids dashing toward the “The Let’s Read America” pavilion’s KidsPost table — they’re probably racing to collect the third and final game piece required to complete their scavenger hunt’s game board.
While You’re There Held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, this free festival is just a short jaunt to the Mt. Vernon Square Metro stop. Hop on the Metro for easy access to hotels across the city, or book a B & B within walking distance. After a day of literature, grab a table at the Lost and Found neighborhood bar for a craft beer or cocktail.
How far will you travel for your love of books? Call 800-750-5386 to speak with your AAA Travel Agent about planning your festival visit.