Things to do  |  4 Nov 2021

The WORD Christchurch Festival is set to go ahead next week after it was shut down by lockdown a week before opening its doors in August.

A downsized, COVID-safe programme, which delivers smaller, socially distanced events, and uses technology to bring in speakers affected by travel restriction, will run from 9 – 13 November.

Livestreaming tickets have gone on sale this week, alongside in-venue tickets. As well as enabling those outside the city to attend, it also means people in Christchurch can watch from home if they are reluctant to go out.

The festival’s custom-made hybrid experience, The Faraway Near, which brings eight international writers right to the audience’s tables on twelve screens, will only be available in-venue however.

Two new writers have been added to the Faraway Near line-up this week: Australian literary powerhouse Helen Garner, and American novelist Ruth Ozeki, author of My Year of Meats and the Booker-shortlisted A Tale for the Time Being.

Other guests include H is for Hawk author Helen Macdonald, Native American novelist Tommy Orange, philosopher A.C. Grayling, and Kurdish writer and activist Ava Homa in conversation with Behrouz Boochani.

Events that had been close to selling out will now be held in the Douglas Lilburn Auditorium in the Christchurch Town Hall to ensure all ticketholders can attend with maximum space for social distancing.

Former Afghan refugee Abbas Nazari will discuss his book After the Tampa 20 years on, alongside Helen Clark who was Prime Minister at that time. Clark will also appear in her own session, The Big Issues, to discuss the most urgent issues of our times: COVID and climate change. In both events she will be appearing from Auckland via video link.

Ian Rankin will also beam into The Piano live from his home in Edinburgh to discuss his latest novel with local crime writer Vanda Symon.

In all, forty events will go ahead over five days.

Safety will be paramount, and COVID-19 protocols will be in place to look after audience, writers and staff.

For the full programme, including information on livestreamed events, updated times, dates and venues, and information on cancelled events and refunds, visit the WORD Christchurch website.