Writersfest returns to Kingston

After a two year pivot to virtual, Kingston WritersFest is back with 40 in-person events.

The festival first launched in 2006 and this year events are running from September 28 to October 2, offering members of the community a chance to hear from authors and engage in different writing workshops.

Aara Macauley, who stepped into the Artistic Director role in 2021, says that WritersFest typically has an engaged audience, and that energy has been lacking during the last two years.

“We are delighted to welcome our authors and audiences back to the festival,” Macauley said in a release.

“The past few years have been a tangible reminder of what we’ve missed about in-person programming. We have an incredibly engaged audience that asks smart and thoughtful questions. They want to get below the surface, and see how the authors tick. That was the inspiration for our 2022 festival – to celebrate that enthusiasm and curiosity.”

Macauley said the festival has continued to try to take precautions against COVID-19 as restrictions relax, limiting attendance at certain events and encouraging masking for anyone who attends events.

She said while there’s still some differences to previous in-person festivals, this year will once again feel like an actual festival.

“Back to normal as normal can be given the reality of where we still are in the world,” Macauley said.

“We’re just trying to get used to doing a festival again.”

This year, the festival’s theme is “Beneath the Surface”, with events centered around mental health and addiction, environmental, political and social activism, and racial, cultural, gender and sexual identity.

Macauley said the theme draws upon issues which have come to the forefront of attention in the last two years.

“Really just these things that we’ve had a lot of time to sit and think about, and read about, and learn more about over the last couple of years,” Macauley said.

“And so this is an opportunity for everyone to get together and have conversations around those themes.”

That theme has inspired a series of events, welcoming author and activist Maude Barlow, internationally renowned author Dr. Gabor Maté, and poet Joshua Whitehead.

Macauley said while the underlying theme is heavy and thought provoking, there are a number of events like Trivia Night that are intended to be more lighthearted.

A number of local writing talents are a part of the festival this year, something Macauley said was a main goal.

She says without the support of Kingston’s hungry literary community, WritersFest wouldn’t have survived the last two years.

“Our community has been absolutely amazing, they always have been,” Macauley said.

“So this festival was really about celebrating our community and of course our artists are a huge part of that.”

All events are taking place at the Holiday Inn Kingston Waterfront, with the exception of Sunday’s events which will be held at Delta Four Points and The Broom Factory.