Asia on the page: 5 Asia-Pacific writing festivals

The Dalai Lama, left, listens to one of his biographers, Pico Iyer at one of the sessions on the opening day of India’s Jaipur Literature Festival in Jaipur, India, Thursday, Jan. 24, 2013. This year’s festival will also feature author Zoe Heller and Booker Prize winner Howard Jacobson. (AP Photo/Deepak Sharma)

FOR those that have a penchant for reading and writing, travel encompassing something of the literary world can be an ideal way to incorporate something more high brow into your travel schedule, meet inspiring writers and thinkers, and experience local culture, food and sights. Writers festivals are great forums for discussion and ideas and encompass local literary culture.

Thanks to a burgeoning interest in these events there are now plenty of good selections of writers festivals across Asia. Here are just some to consider scheduling into your next travel schedule.

Jaipur Literary Festival, India

Organisers call this the largest free literary festival on earth and promise to bring together the best of South Asia’s writers. Given it was started by famed British authoor Will Dalrymple, it is bound to deliver. Nobel laureates, Man Booker prize winners and local language writers all come to Jaipur for five days every January for this festival for readings, debates and discussions. The location is one of the highlights itself – the beautiful Diggi Palace.
When: January every year
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The Bookworm International Literary Festival, Beijing, China

The Bookworm Literary Festival in Beijing is a “celebration of literature and ideas” and they pack in the events to connect the 100 plus Chinese and international writers and thinkers that descend on the Chinese capital for two weeks every March. Asia is the focus of all workshops and the 300 events that take place during this festival. Come to hear about Beijing poetry, sexual openness, adventure travel in Asia and more.

When: March each year
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Ubud Writers and Readers Festival, Bali, Indonesia

This is a festival that Lonely Planet co-founders Tony and Maureen Wheeler attend regularly. And Ubud’s beautiful climate is no doubt part of the attraction. This festival not only brings together great thinkers and writers but it’s also highly sociable and the long-table lunches and sundowner events make it even more popular. Ubud is a particularly delightful place and there are plenty of opportunities to get out and explore as well – a trip through nearby paddy fields while you’re here is a must, or a visit to a local temple or an invigorating yoga session.

When: October each year
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Pic: Natasha von Geldern.


Melbourne Writers Festival, Australia

Melbourne is considered one of Australia’s most creative cities so the inclusion of this literary festival in this list is an obvious choice. Melbourne has a busy calendar of writing events, but the writer’s festival is a good one to add to your calendar for all its thought-provoking and interesting events that can include anything from the latest literary blockbuster to discussions on climate change, TV shows or even the night sky.

When: August each year
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Mussoorie Writers Festival, India

This is one of the newer festivals on the writers festival circuit, but its beautiful location is enough reason to recommend it. It also has quite a niche market appeal, given it’s not as famous a location as some of the places listed above. However Mussoorie has long been on the literary page thanks to its its pleasant climate, colourful history and beautiful location. Indian and ex-pat writers have lived and worked here and local bookstores are both well stocked with an incredible array of literary choices from across India and Asia and even feature book signings by famed local writers. The writers festival here celebrates Himalayan culture, natural history and exploration. It is also designed to inspire local students and mountain enthusiasts to get out and discover the Himalayas. It is held in conjunction with the annual Mussoorie half marathon and each year organisers choose a different theme. The 2015 theme was “Women and Mountains” with the idea of highlighting the role of women in the region.


Mussooorie. Pic: Joanne Lane,

When: October each year

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