Whether in a coffee shop, a library, or the comfort of your own home, reading is an act that we tend to do quietly and privately. This September, Canada’s largest book and magazine festival, The Word On The Street, wants you to bring that celebration to the streets with its cross-country festivals in Vancouver, Lethbridge, Saskatoon, Kitchener, Toronto, and Halifax. With hundreds of author events, presentations and workshops, along with an exhibitor marketplace that’s any book-lover’s dream (just be sure to set yourself a budget before you go!), this free festival is one of our country’s best celebrations of literacy and the written word.
As the largest of the six events across the country, the Toronto festival (taking place this year on Sunday, September 23) attracts more than 200,000 visitors annually, with 14 programming venues featuring over 245 Canadian authors. Nicola Dufficy, The Word On The Street Toronto’s festival director, chatted with Cityline.ca about this year’s lineup, which includes the kick-off to David Suzuki and Jeff Rubin’s eco-tour across Canada, radio host Jian Ghomeshi, financial expert Gail Vaz-Oxlade, and the always-popular Scotiabank Giller Prize Hour, which gives readers an inside look at the nominees for the 2012 Scotiabank Giller Prize.
The process of determining this extensive lineup isn’t a simple one, as the festival usually receives approximately 600 author submissions which they whittle down to about 250. “We look at which venues we’re programming, what the themes in those venues are, and then we start working out how the authors fit,” explained Dufficy. “We’re also looking for different connections between some of the authors who have been published by different publishing houses.” When Dufficy and her team of festival organizers can find a common theme between several different authors, they’ll often group them together for a discussion on stage.
While the readings and literary discussions are plentiful at the festival, avid book buyers are also going to want to check out the exhibitor marketplace, featuring over 275 book, magazine and cultural exhibitors. Bibliophiles will be able to pick up the latest fall releases, and also find some great deals on older titles.
All of the festivals across the country also feature a variety of kid-friendly activities, making the event a great destination for families. At the Toronto event, there’s even a “festival within a festival” called KidStreet, which includes three activity venues for kids (the TVO Kids stage, the children’s reading tent, and the children’s activity tent), as well as family-friendly exhibitors, such as children’s booksellers, publishers, and authors. One of the most unique venues, the children’s activity tent, features author readings paired with hands-on activities based on the book, such as origami or hat making. “We really try to have engaging activities [for kids] because we really feel that it’s important that we help foster kids’ love of reading,” said Dufficy.
Want to check out this year’s festival? Here are all the dates, times and locations for the various events:
Vancouver: Friday, September 28 to Sunday, September 30 at various downtown locations
Lethbridge: Sunday, September 23 from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. at Main Library
Saskatoon: Sunday, September 23 from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. at Civic Square
Kitchener: Sunday, September 23 from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. at City Hall
Toronto: Sunday, September 23 from 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. at Queen’s Park Circle
Halifax: Sunday, September 23 from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. at the wharves behind the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic
For more information and festival programming for all six events, visit www.thewordonthestreet.ca.