Byron Bay Writers Festival director Candida Baker and her team are hard at work organising this year’s festival.
Byron Bay Writers Festival director Candida Baker and her team are hard at work organising this year’s festival.

Expect more at 2011 writers fest

It might still be six months away, but planning for this year’s Byron Bay Writers Festival is in full swing.

To be held back at the North Beach site on August 5, 6 and 7, the 15th annual festival will have more of everything.

More international guests, more poetry, more music, more art, more local sponsors, more involvement from the community and more surprises.

“The festival is going to be bigger and better than previous years,” festival director Candida Baker said.

“I am thrilled that the event is going back to North Beach and the on-site restaurant has been renovated and will play a major part in the 2011 festival.

“We will have writers from all over the world, including the UK, US and Asia.

“But there will also be a major emphasis on Australian and local writers and authors, including lots of Indigenous guests.”

An innovation this year will be an area on site called ‘In Search of Soul’.

Ms Baker said this would allow more spirituality to be brought bought into the festival with feature writers like Maggie Hamilton, David Tacey, Scott Alexander King and Kim Falconer.

Another new innovation will be a sculpture walk and prize.

While the names of the festival’s main speakers is still a secret, Ms Baker did reveal that one would be from overseas and one from Australia.

Asked whether they would be big names, Ms Baker laughed and said ‘oh yeah’.

Macquarie Bank and Southern Cross University have once again come on board as the main sponsors, and they will be joined this year by The Australian, which will be the main media and blue marquee sponsor.

Other major sponsors include the ABC, SAE and The Northern Star.

Ms Baker said she was very excited about this year’s festival.

“We have chosen a theme of passion and I am sure there will be plenty of passionate debates, including a great debate I have scheduled on Wikileaks,” she said.

The 2011 festival will also include a host of workshops, a designated poetry tent, book launches and special sessions for school-age children.

The popular literary lunches and dinners will once again feature, and there will be a comedy night and a festival club at The Brewery.

Footnote: The Byron Bay Writers Festival and Northern Rivers Writers Centre has a new home upstairs in Jonson Street above Witchery. The office will be home to regular readings and events and will become the hub for local writers.

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