600 Members, five annual programs, dozens of out-of-season events and workshops. One 3-day Festival.
What we do
Byron Writers Festival is the central hub to the Northern Rivers’ active, vibrant literary culture of reading and writing. Our primary purpose is to create and deliver programs that involve and enrich professional, amateur and aspiring writers (and readers) of all ages. Our mission is to promote literature (particularly Australian), enhance the skills of writers, and foster a culture of reading and writing among all age groups in the Northern Rivers and beyond.
Byron Writers Festival is a not-for-profit, member-based organisation offering a year-round program of workshops, seminars and events. We service a large region stretching from Taree to Tweed Heads and west to Kyogle. But our reach extends far beyond the NSW Northern Rivers, to members seeking to be part of our virtual community of writers. And literature lovers flock from far and wide for the annual Festival.
Byron Writers Festival Members are able to access information about writing, writing groups, publishing, workshops and industry-related events through our auspices. Northerly, our member magazine, keeps members informed of activities, including a calendar of literary events, competitions and industry opportunities.
Three of our key initiatives are the annual Byron Writers Festival, StoryBoard and the residential mentorship program.
Annual Byron Writers Festival
This major annual literary event, the largest regional Writers Festival, offers a seven-day program attracting more than 65,000 individual attendances and reaching more than 4000 school students.
The Byron Writers Festival had its beginnings in 1997, when a small group of locals led by Chris Hanley wondered whether authors might accept an invitation to spend a winter weekend in Byron Bay. They did, and an audience of two hundred locals enjoyed a gathering of 50 Australian writers. Since then, the Festival has grown from a single venue event to fill five huge marquees and venues around town.
The Festival guest list now numbers more than 130 authors and commentators. Over the years the most significant and respected contemporary Australian writers have participated through lectures, lunches, panels, conversations, launches and readings. The event also attracts top local, national and international literary talent, including luminaries such as Jeanette Winterson, Tom Keneally and Charlotte Wood, and celebrated politicians including Malcolm Fraser and Julia Gillard. The Festival also provides a platform for local writers to engage with audiences, meet with publishers and agents and launch works.
The Festival runs in August. For up-to-date information on the Festival Program, please visit our Festival page, and be sure subscribe to our e-newsletter for program announcements and ticket releases.
StoryBoard is a travelling creative writing workshop in Northern Rivers, NSW. The program is aimed at fostering the next generation of readers and writers – young people who are excited about literature, literacy and creativity, who seek the tools to create their futures. Bringing leading authors and illustrators into schools, StoryBoard inspires young people to create stories, fosters creativity and literacy, and helps move young people out of disadvantage.
Established in 2001, this prestigious program offers four emerging writers a five-day residency under the mentorship of multi-award winning and internationally acclaimed author, Marele Day. Since its inception, the initiative has enhanced the careers of over 50 writers. On average, one in four participants have gained publication with a major publisher. Published graduates include Sarah Armstrong (shortlisted for Miles Franklin Award), Jessie Cole (shortlisted for the 2013 ALS Gold Medal and long-listed for the Dobbie Literary Award) among other successfully published writers.
The Northern Rivers Writers’ Centre was incorporated in 1995, the home of the much-loved Byron Bay Writers Festival, first held in 1997. In 2016, the Centre and the Festival were amalgamated under one banner and renamed Byron Writers Festival. The Byron Writers Festival is staffed by a small dedicated team led by a volunteer Committee. The organisation is not-for-profit and receives its core funding from Arts NSW.