By Reya Mehrotra
The 2021 Jaipur Literature Festival, which made its virtual debut this year, concludes today. From Bill Gates to Malala Yousafzai, Priyanka Chopra to William Dalrymple, the festival shone bright with the participation of stars from different walks of life as they celebrated literature and culture. Here, we bring to you some festivals that went online in the pandemic era.
Cambridge Literary Festival
CLF initially began as Cambridge Wordfest in 2003, but later became a charity. In 2014, it was renamed as Cambridge Literary Festival. The festival calls upon 350 writers and speakers each year to stage events over a variety of topics and current issues. The website of the festival says that it will remain online till it is safe to open doors for the public. And so, 2021’s Children’s Festival will be held online from March 28 to April 4 and Spring Festival will be held online from April 23 to April 30.
Hay Literary Festival
Also called The Hay Festival of Literature & Arts, it was started in 1988 and is now a prominent British festival. It also includes musical performances and film previews. The festival has international sister festivals like Hay Festival of Mexico, Hay Festival Segovia (that will be held in September this year), Hay Festival Arequipa and Hay Festival Winter Weekend in UK (that will be held in November), etc. The Hay Literary festival of Wales, UK, is set to be held between May 26 and June 6 digitally.
Edinburgh International Book Festival
The not-for-profit organisation’s festival, which is being held over the years since 1983, is a key event that takes place in August every year. The popular festival stages more than 900 events, covering a plethora of topics that are entertaining, inspirational and thought-provoking. Writers, thinkers and artists from all around the world gather at the festival for various discussions. It is celebrated at the Charlotte Square Gardens located in Edinburgh’s Georgian New Town.
The Scottish International Crime Writing Festival, based in Stirling, was started in 2012 by Alex Gray and Lin Anderson. The festival involves a string of informative and entertaining events that cover a range of criminal subjects like fictional forensics, tartan noir, cosy crime, psychological thrillers and so on. It brings together both new and established crime writers from and outside Scotland. In 2020, the festival went completely online with free tickets and, in 2021, it will be held between September 17 and September 19. However, whether the festival will continue to be virtual is yet to be announced.
Kala Ghoda Arts Festival
Held by the Kala Ghoda Association since 1999, the multicultural festival, which is usually held in February, brings attention to south Mumbai’s art and architectural heritage. The annual art festival’s 22nd edition, held between February 6 and February 14, took place in a digital format this year. The sessions included discussions around trans representation in mainstream media, cinema, a talk by Devdutt Pattanaik, dance and percussion workshops, and more. Some of the guests at the festival included actor Dia Mirza, chef Vicky Ratnani, standup comedians Aditi Mittal, Atul Khatri and so on.
Sydney Writer’s Festival
The festival was first held in 1997. It was cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic. The 2021 edition of the festival will be held between April 26 and May 2, but its format—whether digital or not—will be announced in March. Writers and thinkers from around the globe gather at the festival to discuss various themes, issues and topics, while also exchanging thoughts. More than 400 writers take part in more than 300 performances, conversations, debates and panel discussions to an audience of more than 80,000. Some of the events remain free. Michael Williams is the current and the newly-appointed artistic director of the festival.
Neev Literature Festival
The children’s festival began in 2017 and involves writers, illustrators, librarians from across the country. In 2018, the Neev Book Award was announced to award great children’s books on Indian lives by Indian authors. The festival was founded by Kavita Gupta Sabharwal, Ameen Haque, Rasil Kaur Ahuja and Sneha Iype Varma. It sees large-scale participation from children and has a number of panel discussions on various topics. NLF will have a series of online events in 2021, the dates and schedules of which are yet to be announced. The Bengaluru-based festival is held at Neev Academy in the city.