Get a Word Feast out of Wordfest

Wordfest’s Creative Ringleader Shelley Youngblut offers tips on how to best enjoy this year’s event. PHOTO: DAVID KOTSIBIE

Wordfest’s Imaginairium, which has been dubbed “Canada’s liveliest literary festival,” returns for its 28th year from Oct. 11 to 15 in the Beltline neighbourhood. 

The number and quality of the authors participating is, as always, astounding — from acclaimed and award-winning writers such as Patrick deWitt (The Sisters Brothers, French Exit) and Emma Donaghue (The Pull of the Stars, Room) to celebrated local authors including fave Will Ferguson (How to be a Canadian).

To help you get ready for next month’s anticipated event, we asked Wordfest’s “Creative Ringleader” Shelley Youngblut to give readers five insider tips on how to get the most out of this year’s event.

  1. Get a Festival Pass: “The Imaginairium is, at its heart, designed to bring you as close as possible to the world’s best authors — and to each other. We’ve custom-crafted all the shows to enable you to think bigger, dig deeper, and connect more, which means high demand for every seat available our main festival venues, Decidedly Jazz Dance Centre and Memorial Park Library.”
  2. Don’t Miss Out on the Best of Canada Reads and the Governor General’s Literary Awards: “They are all coming to the festival with amazing 2023 reads: big-name writers like Patrick deWitt, Michelle Good, Emma Donoghue, Cherie Dimaline, Michael Crummey, Lorna Crozier and Katherena Vermette, along with the next wave of superstars, such as Zalika Reid-Benta, Amanda Peters, Jordan Abel, and Calgary’s own Deborah Willis.”
  3. There’s No Mystery about These Bestsellers: “We’ve enticed the world’s most celebrated thriller writers to Calgary, including Canada’s Ashley Audrain, Linwood Barclay and Shari Lapena, as well as England’s Louise Candlish and Ireland’s Liz Nugent. (They will be appearing in a variety of combinations and formats — and there a very limited number of tickets to a VIP lunch with all five authors.)”
  4. It’s All About the Storytelling: “Wordfest is known for its innovative formats, and one of our most beloved — by authors and audiences alike — is the storytelling series. This festival, there will be three unmissable events, featuring seven authors each: The Way We Unnerve You, The Way We Navigate and The Way We Hex the Patriarchy (featuring a coven of feminist witches on Friday, Oct. 13, natch!).”
  5. Prepare to Have Your Mind Blown: “We always strive to make sure that Calgarians are part of the biggest conversations happening anywhere and everywhere. And then we go get the lightning rod writers. This fall, that’s Mary Trump — yes, that Mary Trump — and New York Times bestseller (The Wave) Susan Casey, whose new book The Underworld is a literal deep dive into deep-sea exploration and the effects of climate change and industrialization on the planet’s largest and least understood resource.”

Wordfest runs from Oct. 11 to 15 at various locations. For the full list of authors and events, please go to