The best book festivals in Europe


book festivals in Europe


For an inspiring weekend break, why not visit one Europe's best book festivals? From Edinburgh to Istanbul, you can enjoy talks from the world's best writers and thinkers, all while exploring a new city and everything it has to offer. Grab a notebook and head over to one of the best European literature festivals.

Edinburgh International Book Festival, Scotland (in photo)
Every year in late August, Charlotte Square, a beautiful garden in the centre of Edinburgh, is filled with literature lovers from all over the world. Edinburgh International Book Festival is known as the largest of its kind in the world, and has hosted iconic writers like Margaret Atwood, Sebastian Faulks and Salman Rushdie. Over 800 different authors from 55 different countries come to speak at this annual festival in the historic Scottish city, and talks are held over 17 days. The children's programme here is also internationally renowned and encompasses workshops, storytelling, panel discussions and book signings, as well as attracting speakers like Anne Fine and Jacqueline Wilson.
Berlin International Literary Festival, Germany
Held since 2001, the Berlin International Literary Festival takes place over ten days each September. It's the biggest annual literary event in the cultural German city. The festival's director and founder, Ulrich Schreiber, focuses on presenting the best contemporary poetry and prose from around the world with over 300 events taking place in over 60 locations around the city. Like Edinburgh, a particular focus is on their children's programming, with over 30, 000 children attending each year. Don't miss New German Voices, an evening event which introduces festival goers to the most promising emerging writers from the country.
Authors' Reading Month, Central Europe
The only literature festival spanning five cities and four countries simultaneously, Authors' Reading Month is a Central European book festival with events in Brno and Ostrava (Czech Republic,) Wroclaw (Poland,) Kosice (Slovakia) and Lviv (Ukraine.) Originally celebrating the literature of Czech writers, since 2004 the festival has been dedicated to literature from a particular guest country, and in 2018 this was Turkey. Held every July, and organised by Czech publisher Vetrné mlýny, two to three readings from both the host and guest country take place.
FestivalandCo, France
This quirky festival is held in iconic Parisian bookshop Shakespeare & Co, known for being frequented by celebrated authors like Hemingway, Joyce and Fitzgerald, and for its hip location on Paris' Left Bank. Attracting names like Jeanette Winterson and Jung Chang, the festival is held every June and holds talks in the picture-perfect park Rene Viviani, next to the bookstore and close to Notre Dame. The festival was founded in 2008 by owner Sylvia Beach Whitman, the daughter of the shop's founder George Whitman, who founded the bookstore and established its iconic literary status.
Istanbul Tanpinar Literature Festival, Turkey
Few cities can rival the cultural background of Istanbul, the centuries old city on the mouth of the Bosphorus. The Tanpinar Literature Festival celebrates one of the 20th century's great Turkish writers, Ahmet Hamdi Tanpinar, whose famous novel A Mind at Peace was set in the city. The autumnal festival is held annually, and talks take place throughout the historic city. Over 68 authors from 22 different countries around the world attend, and previous guests have included Louis de Bernières and Ian Rankin.
Norwegian Festival of Literature, Norway
The largest non-commercial literature festival in the Nordic countries, the Norwegian Festival of Literature is held every May in the quaint town of Lillehammer. Previous speakers have included Zadie Smith, Margaret Atwood and Per Petterson. During the six-day Spring festival, over 400 writers and artists from around the world flood into the historic town, as well as 25,000 visitors. When you aren't catching inspiring talks, make sure you wander around the stunning alpine countryside surrounding the town.
Hay Festival, England
In the stunning rural border between England and Wales, Hay Festival is one of the longest running and largest literary festivals taking place worldwide. When you aren't watching talks from one of the hundreds of attending authors, wander around the quirky town of Hay, which really lives up to its iconic nickname “The Town of Books,” with bookshops lining every street. Previous guests have included Jung Chang, Michael Morpurgo and comedian Bill Bailey. Held in late May every year, this joyful festival is the perfect way to begin your summer.


up Top