Countdown on to popular literary festival

WITH just two weeks to go before the start of the Byron Bay Writers’ Festival, Candida Baker is burning the candle at both ends.
As the new festival director, Candida is passionate and determined to make the 15th annual event a “memorable one”.
 The hugely popular annual literary festival will be held at North Beach from August 5 to 7.
“I’m absolutely thrilled with the program, the response to the program and the calibre of writers we have this year,” she said.
“With the theme of passion, festivalgoers can expect some lively debates.
“We also have more of everything this year. More writers, more volunteers, more workshops, more sponsors, a performance tent and several off-site events. It’s all very exciting.
“Just yesterday (July 13) we sold $10,000 worth of tickets in just 12 hours and we have people coming from all over Australia and New Zealand.
“A couple of the workshops have already sold out and the literary lunches and dinners are filling fast, so I would advise anybody who wants to come to make sure they get their tickets soon.”
Tickets will be available on the gate and Candida hopes that about 10,000 people will attend the three-day festival.
There will be seven venues this year including four marquees, two chat rooms and a performance tent.
There’s also a sculpture competition, launch pad for writers launching their books, a kid’s day on the Sunday and a special school day on Thursday, August 4.
One of the events that Candida is most excited about is the “Great Debate” to be held at the Byron Bay High School on the Friday night.
The debate will feature Bill Leak, political cartoonist for The Australian; Robert Manne, a writer and lecturer; former Lismore resident and now owner of a new art gallery at New Italy, Rhoda Roberts; former NSW Premier Bob Carr; Greg Haddrick, who wrote Underbelly; and Niki Savva, a senior correspondent in the Canberra Press Gallery.
“Saturday night we will have some laughs with a comedy night at the Bangalow A and I Hall and of course people should not forget the keynote address with renowned and celebrated journalist John Pilger,” Candida said.
Another new innovation this year is an artists market for invited artists.
As usual there will be plenty of food and coffee stalls, and North Byron Events has revamped its restaurant.
“I am really pleased about the restaurant as it will be serving up a range of cuisine from elegant to more simple fare,” Candida said.
“All-in-all it’s going to be a memorable three days, and for people who might think that writers’ festivals are dull I would say to them come along and see what the word can reveal.
“The Byron Bay Writers’ Festival is the third biggest festival in Australia behind Sydney and Melbourne, but I intend to make it number one.”
 


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