Things to do  |  8 Sep 2020

Next month's WORD Christchurch Spring Festival will be a celebration of New Zealand books, stories and writers.

The festival, from 28 October to 1 November, will be the first major metropolitan literary festival to take place with live audiences since the COVID-19 lockdown.

WORD Christchurch is following Ministry of Health guidelines regarding COVID-19 alert levels and is actively monitoring the situation to ensure contingencies are in place should the levels change. 

Sixty-five events are scheduled over the four-days of the festival, with many of the events free for the community to attend.

Programme director Rachael King says this year’s festival will be a more intimate experience and will showcase many themes that are relevant to the changing times in which we are living.

“There’s no doubt the global pandemic has had an effect on each and every one of us,’’ Ms King says. “We wanted to capture some of the shared experiences, and the challenges and opportunities from those experiences, in our programme and we also wanted to support our local publishing and book industry.

“Having a festival that is centred on New Zealand writing and New Zealand writers allows us to do that and to focus on that sense of community that we have all shared this year.’’

The festival will showcase many of New Zealand’s best known and best loved fiction and non-fiction writers, poets and historians including Elizabeth Knox, Behrouz Boochani, Witi Ihimaera, Vincent O’Sullivan, Becky Manawatu, Dr Siouxsie Wiles, Laura Jean McKay, Annabel Langbein, Selina Tusitala Marsh, Kaiora Tipene (The Casketeers), Carl Nixon, Pip Adam, Bill Manhire, Owen Marshall, Golriz Ghahraman, Tusiata Avia, Tom Scott, and Farid Ahmed.

Guest programmer, poet and comedian Ray Shipley will perform at three events during the festival; Bedtime Stories for Anxious Adults, Stand Up Poetry: A Quiz Show and Ray Shipley’s Late-Night Poetry Hour.

Other highlights of the festival include the ever-popular Adventurous Women, the Great WORD Debate, and the WORD Gala: Brave Worlds with the theme of courage, and tributes to artist Ralph Hotere and acclaimed New Zealand author Katherine Mansfield.

A full calendar of events and details off all the featured guests is available of the WORD Christchurch website.