Welcome to Listowel Writers’ Week, Ireland’s oldest literary and arts festival where writers, artists and poets gather in the beautiful Kerry heritage town of Listowel in Co Kerry.  We promote writing and all its genres throughout the literary community, and create an environment in which literature can be appreciated by the widest possible audience and where writers and readers celebrate the written word, together. At the heart of our annual celebration is a commitment to developing and promoting writing talent. This is done through literary panel discussions, moderated talks, poetry readings, interviews, cultural tours, walks and more.

Founded in 1970 with the first festival taking place in 1971, the dream of Listowel Writers’ Week was a simple but daring one: to transform a beautiful Kerry heritage town into a centre of the literary universe and make it somewhere writers and book-lovers from all corners can gravitate to for a celebration of literature and imagination. Listowel Writers’ Week was founded to foster new and exciting talent, to give aspiring writers wings, and we haven’t forgotten this! Each year, this dream of the original founding members, writers, artists and champions like John B Keane, Bryan MacMahon & Brendan Kennelly, is realised through our programme of events, workshops and competitions.

Our creative writing workshops were the first to be introduced in Ireland by Bryan MacMahon. They cater for all experience levels, from eager beginners to seasoned masters, and covering virtually every literary genre and craft. Douglas Kennedy, Vona Groarke, Michael Harding, Christine Dwyer Hickey, Elizabeth Day & Gerald Dawe are just a few of the master-craftspeople that have delivered creative writing workshops in Listowel. If you are an aspiring young writer, quietly mastering your art, don’t do it alone, we are here to help!

Each June bank holiday weekend, some of the most distinguished names in contemporary literatue, join travelling storytellers, experimental poets, local songwriters, cutting-edge novelists, and readers from all corners of the globe, for five days, to create a literary mecca in the heart of the Irish countryside.

Lemn Sissay, JM Coetzee, Edna O’Brien, Seamus Heaney, Kazuo Ishiguro, Anne Enright, Graham Norton, Alan Cumming, Hugo Hamilton, John McGahern, Tishani Doshi & Robert Fisk are among the fantastic writers we have welcomed over the years and we look forward each year to adding to this renowned list.


– National Children’s Literary Festival –

The National Children’s Literary Festival at Listowel Writers’ Week runs in conjunction with Listowel Writers’ Week. Now in its 9th year, the Festival has lots of events on offer for children and families including treasure hunts, writing workshops, quizzes, face-painting, pantomimes, street performers, as well as readings from some of the luminaries of children’s literature. It is a fantastic family occasion, with events full of wonder, imagination and the written word.


– Young adult bookfest @ listowel writers’ week –

A one day arts festival, the Young Adult BookFest @ Listowel Writers’ Week is an opportunity for fourth and fifth year secondary school students to take a break from the Leaving Cert curriculum and hear from a host of speakers all of whom are forging their own in different fields. An annual event, more than 900 students across Kerry and Limerick attended in November 2019 and heard from a great line-up with Shane Casey, Ciara Ní É, Bernard Casey, Stephanie Rainey, Dave Rudden, Emma Langford, Brian Conaghan, Riobard Pierse and Declan Coyle.


Listowel Writers’ Week Artistic Policy 2020 – 2025

Listowel Writers’ Week provides a creative and entertaining festival that inspires its participants and, by encouraging engagement in the arts, enriches cultural life locally, nationally and internationally.

The main tenets of our artistic policy are as follows;

* Promote access to works of literary excellence in the various genres of writing to diverse audiences whist ensuring value for money within budgetary constraints.

* Curate a spread of art forms to engage and entertain. Sub-committees discuss how literature, art, theatre, film, drama, music and poetry fit into our programme, and these can be developed in order to support the framework of engagement and development of our audiences.

* Provide a forum for emerging, established, mid-career, senior, significant or honorific artists to include local, national and international artists.

* Enable writers to advance their skills and develop their careers with forums for meeting other writers, publishers and writers’ agents etc.

* Guarantee that artists are always fairly and equitably remunerated.

* Ensure gender balance and social diversity across the programme of events.

* Encourage an outlet for artists from groups that are at risk of discrimination or exclusion and support artists from a diverse range of communities.

* Welcome and embrace different ideas on presentation and context.

* Evaluate artists’ suitability for participation and inclusion in the programme of events to enhance and achieve the KPI’s of our audience development strategy.

* Enable the creative processes of writing through literary workshops for children and adults delivered by reputable and professional facilitators.

* Engage with school children and young adults. Our family and school events programme which runs over four days, covers the age group from birth to 12-13year olds. It is fully inclusive, offers disabled access and events specifically programmed to ensure inclusion and cultural diversity across the festival.

In addition, and under the same premise, we run a day long festival for young adults, 13-15+ year olds – Young Adult Book Festival, also known as YA Book Fest.

* Develop partnerships with strategic partners, local authorities, organisations, community, government authorities and other stakeholders thus facilitating evidence-based decision making for the purposes of future planning and curation of the festival including professional development of volunteers.

* Consult with attendees, strategic partners, stakeholders, community and local authorities each year with a desired outcome of monitoring and evaluating the demographics to ascertain what steps are necessary to further increase our audiences, deepen our relationship with our audiences and diversify to become more inclusive in terms of audience development and public engagement.

* Host multi-disciplinary arts events during the year to engage with the local community.

Listowel Writers’ Week remains committed to being an inclusive and welcoming festival that willingly and enthusiastically collaborates with artists, arts organisations, communities, government authorities, and other stakeholders in pursuit of the mutual goals of Making Great Art Work.


Listowel Writers’ Week Child Protection Policy

Listowel Writers’ Week Child Protection & Welfare Policy document can be viewed here.

Celebrating our 50th Festival 

In 2021, we will celebrate our 50th Festival.

See you here!

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