Festival guide: Free events

From our popular Sydney Morning Herald Coffee and Papers events and The Curiosity Lecture Series, to our fun-filled Family Day and the City of Sydney’s pop-up poetry space, some of the most engaging, informing, and entertaining things at the Festival won’t cost you a dime! Come and see what’s on offer!

SMH Coffee and Papers

On Thursday, Friday, and Sunday morning of the Festival, start your day with freshly-brewed coffee and edifying conversation. Festival guests Irin Carmon, Alec Luhn, and Francis Wade join Sydney Morning Herald editors and journalists to catch up on the daily headlines and dish on the stories you should be following.


The Curiosity Lecture Series

At The Blacksmith's Workshop, our Festival guests are given free rein to explore a mixed bag of interesting topics, including plotting the imperfect crime, the need for millennial historians, Law and Order: SVU, and becoming an accidental viral superstar. See the full program here.


The Big Backyard

From 10am til 4pm on Sunday 6 May, The Big Backyard is a free-for-all space filled with family friendly literary fun. With a line-up including a May Gibbs colouring wall, an immersive audio experience, a craft depot, and on the spot stories, there’s bound to be something to capture the imagination of every little reader. Other highlights include the return of the beautifully illustrated Russ the Story Bus and the Shout Out to the Girls exhibition.


City of Sydney Poetry Pop-up Space

Ever dreamed of writing your own poetry on a reprogrammed cash register? Well you can turn that dream into a reality, courtesy of City of Sydney. Festival poets Toby Fitch, Joanne Burns, Omar Sakr, and Lang Leav have all contributed a poem to remix, and you’ll get a printout to prove your prowess as a cash register wordsmith.


Other Free Highlights:


And the Award Goes To…

Be the first to hear from some of the just-announced winners of the 2018 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards as they discuss the impact that awards can have on a writer’s career and what it feels like to follow in the footsteps of previous winners such as Helen Garner and David Malouf. These writers reflect the best in new, innovative Australian literature across a variety of genres.


Somewhere in the Middle: Israel and Palestine

The past year alone has seen the relocation of the US embassy to Jerusalem, Palestinian negotiators warn of an imperilled two-state solution, and Israeli leaders endorse the annexation of parts of the West Bank. Join this not-to-be-missed panel event for an urgent discussion on whether a new path to peace can be forged. Featuring John Lyons, Randa Abdel-Fattah, Antony Loewenstein, Mark Baker, and Peter Greste.


Kate Cole-Adams: Anaesthesia

How much do we really know about what happens to us under anaesthetic on the operating table? Can we hear what’s going on around us? Is pain still pain if we are not awake to feel it? Anaesthesia author Kate Cole-Adams chats to ABC RN’s Natasha Mitchell about what goes on when we go under.


The Future of Science Writing

From the furthest reaches of the universe to the microscopic world of our genes, science offers writers the kind of scope other subjects simply can’t match. Don’t miss Ivy Shih, Alice Klein and Joel Werner discuss the future of science journalism with ABC’s Michael Slezak.

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