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Best summer literary festivals

Love poetry? Can’t wait for the latest Jo Nesbo release? Planning to spend the summer barreling through 1000-page dystopias? Have really, really, strong feelings about Captain America being revealed as a Hydra Agent, or just comics in general? has the down-low on alternative bookish festivals for every literary genre, guaranteed to make your reading list double in length.

Medellin International Poetry Festival

Medellin International Poetry Festival

Poetry - 27th Medellin International Poetry Festival

Medellin, Colombia
8th-15th July

If your bookshelves are stuffed with poetry
And your love of rhyme grows uncontrollably
The Medellin International Poetry Festival
Will prove to be most delectable.

In its 27th year of promoting verse
This Colombian festival does intersperse
Established poets with beginner bards
And rhyming workshops for the true diehards.

Where to stay (book without delay): Patio del Mundo

Science-fiction - ArmadilloCon 39

Austin, USA
4th-6th August

With Tamora Pierce already confirmed as a special guest, ArmadilloCon 39 could take place in the parking lot of a KFC and we’d still be considering forking out for the trip. Thankfully for the less ardant fangirls among us, this legendary sci-fi festival has both a proper venue and a reputation for attracting amazing speakers, workshops, and discussion panels. The 2017 line-up is yet to be confirmed but past speakers include George R. R. Martin, Charlaine Harris, Neil Gaiman, and Ted Chiang.

Where to stay: Firehouse Hostel

Historical - 2017 HNSA Conference

Melbourne, Australia
8th-10th September

The role of the historical novelist within history is the kind of thorny-yet-juicy topic that fans of the genre can derive hours of enjoyment from. And the 2017 HNSA Conference promises to deliver plenty of this. Internationally-acclaimed authors like Hanifa Deen, Ngahuia te Awekotuku, and Gary Crew are already signed up and the impressive list of workshops and discussion panels just keeps growing.

Where to stay: Art Series - The Larwill Studio

Illustration by Babs Tarr

Illustration by Babs Tarr

Comics - Thought Bubble

Leeds, UK
18th-24th September

The largest comics festival in the UK: Thought Bubble has something for every comics fan, from DC/Marvel heads, right through to indie presses and fanfiction-inspired illustrators. All this and the festival also does outreach work with local organisations like Bradford Action for Refugees and Leeds Specialist Autism Services. Now in it’s 10th year, Thought Bubble organisers are going bigger and better with names like Marc Ellerby, Leah Moore, Gerard Way, and Sarah Graley.

Where to stay: Roomzzz Leeds City

Crime - Bouchercon 2017: Passport to Murder

Toronto, Canada
11th-15th October

With new releases from high-profile names like Jo Nesbo, Paula Hawkins, Dan Brown, Sarah Hilary, and Denise Mina, 2017 has, already, been a big year for crime fiction. So what better way to celebrate than booking your ticket to Boucheron 2017: Passport to Murder? Named after writer, author, and critic Anthony Boucher, this year the mystery and detective fiction festival will be hosted by Toronto. Which means that attendees will have the chance to get up close and personal with the Toronto Public Library Conan Doyle collection.

Where to stay: Atlantis Suites - York Street

Read My World, Amsterdam

Read My World, Amsterdam

Literary - Read My World: Black American Literature

Amsterdam, The Netherlands
12th-14th October

One of the most interesting and wide-ranging literary festivals in Europe: each year Read My World draws inspiration from a different region of the world. In 2017 the theme will be Black American Literature and will be curated by Shantrelle P. Lewis and Maurice Carlos Ruffin. Although the line-up is yet to be announced, a weekend of thoughtful and thought-provoking discussion is guaranteed.

Where to stay: Kimpton De Witt Amsterdam

Romance - ROSACon2017

Johannesburg, South Africa
21st-22nd October

What began as four romance novel enthusiasts chatting online has quickly turned into one of South Africa’s most engaging literary festivals. ROSA (Romance writers Organisation of South Africa) has an international membership and features many local authors and big hitters from around the world. Workshops (in both English and Afrikaans) cover everything from plotting and character development through to online marketing and self-publishing.

Where to stay: C.A.G The Vantage