Where do I start?

Whether you’re a literature lover, a podcast fiend, a news junkie or a YA, science-fiction or crime thriller fan, Sydney Writers’ Festival has an event for you. But amid the 300 plus events on the bill, you might not know where to start. We’ve put together a guide to help you navigate the 2018 Festival program.

A Message from our Artistic Director

If you’re after some guidance, why not take it from the person who knows the Festival program best. Read Artistic Director Michaela McGuire’s opening message here.

2018 Guest Curators 

Three of Australia’s finest writers and thinkers – Sarah Krasnostein, Charlotte Wood and Marcia Langton – have brought their unique creative vision and perspective on the Festival’s theme of Power to the Festival program. You can read more about our Guest Curators on our blog.

Sarah Krasnostein has framed a series of events that discuss a taxonomy of resilience, looking at strategies for naming injustice and speaking truth to power. She’ll look at empathy as sustenance, motivation and as a political issue.


Charlotte Wood contemplates laughter: its power, and how it can be used to tell uncomfortable truths.

Marcia Langton examines rituals, taboos and the Indigenous rules of engagement.

Festival Highlights

For this year’s biggest names and not-to-be-missed galas, check out some of our Festival Highlights, below.

For more of the extraordinary events on offer, visit our Festival Highlights page. 

Nights at Carriageworks

After sundown, some of the Festival’s most intriguing guests settle in for revealing conversations at Carriageworks. At Bay 17, catch author of Call Me by Your Name and Enigma Variations, André Aciman; Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jennifer Egan (A Visit from the Goon Squad and Manhattan Beach); and iconic New York poet, novelist and performer Eileen Myles.

Over at Bay 20, Festival guests will take to the stage to share their queer literary heroes in Gay for Page; New York Times journalists Wesley Morris and Jenna Wortham present an exclusive episode of their podcast, Still Processing; and Nakkiah Lui and a guest host record a special episode of Pretty for an Aboriginal.


Thinking Globally

Economic inequality is on the rise, including in Trump’s America, and here in Australia, so where does this leave people in affected areas and industries? North Korea’s citizens are sealed off from the world and only allowed access to state-run propaganda – but amid the headlines, have we forgotten the plight of North Korean people themselves?

Take a fresh look at some of the most pressing issues facing the world today with our Thinking Globally series. Join Pulitzer Prize-winning staff writer for The Washington Post Amy Goldstein, NBC News reporter Katy Tur, political science professor Robert E. Kelly, Vanity Fair correspondent Gabriel Sherman, and Asia Editor of The Times Richard Lloyd Parry.

The Curiosity Lecture Series

From the surprising ramifications of becoming an international viral sensation, to how to effectively steal a deceased person’s identity, and revealing Law & Order: Special Victims Unit as a complex fairytale, The Curiosity Lecture Series includes some of the Festival’s most inquiring minds talking about an eclectic range of subjects. Catch the series of free talks at Carriageworks' Blacksmith’s Workshop.

Find more talks from The Curiosity Lecture Series, here.

Family Program

Our Family Program kicks off at Sydney Town Hall on Saturday 5 May with bestselling Diary of a Wimpy Kid author Jeff Kinney sharing the latest rollicking adventures of Greg Heffler.

The fun continues on Sunday May 6 at Carriageworks with a blockbuster line-up of events and free bookish activities. Don’t miss international favourites Chris Riddell, A.F. Harrold and Junot Díaz as well as homegrown talent The Listies, Jacqueline Harvey and Leigh Hobbs.


Find more Family Program events, here.

All-Day YA

We’re taking over Riverside Theatres, Parramatta, once again for a full day of Young Adult (YA) programming on Saturday 5 May. The colossal line-up includes bestselling author Patrick Ness, screenwriter and author Jesse Andrews plus Alice Pung, Shaun TanJay Kristoff and more.

Find more All-YA Day events here.

Blue Mountains 

Over in the Blue Mountains, Sydney Writers’ Festival presents an enlivening program with Varuna, the National Writers’ House. From April 27 to April 30, join two-time Miles Franklin winner Kim Scott shares from his latest novel, Michelle de Kretser speaks about The Life to Come, and Festival highlight, Tara Westover speaks of her incredible journey of breaking free from a childhood in a survivalist family to earning a PhD at Cambridge. Events will span from Varuna, the National Writers House to the Katoomba Library, the Carrington Hotel and the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre.

Find more Blue Mountains events, here.