Book festival returns to showcase region
The point of difference at the Marlborough Book Festival is simple, it’s Marlborough.
With intimate venues and stunning surrounds, the ‘‘small and cosy’’ festival has grown in leaps and bounds from its beginnings four years ago.
Marlborough Readers and Writers Charitable Trust trustee Sonia O’Regan says this weekend’s event is a showcase for the region. ’’Our niche is Marlborough,’’ she says. ‘‘Authors say they like the friendliness of the festival and intimacy of the venues, which they probably don’t get at larger events.’’
The festival launched in 2014 with a lineup of six authors.
This year’s bill, which kicks off from Friday to Sunday, has grown to 11 and will include an international writer and an art class for the first time.
‘‘We really try to have diversity and we’ve been able to do that more and more as we see what Marlborough wants,’’ Sonia says.
‘‘We’ve grown in lots of ways, with new variety, venues, sponsors and attracted new audience members. Through all this we’ve retained the intimate nature of the event and endeavour to give the authors a relaxing Marlborough experience.’’
Diversity is a key theme in this year’s edition, with a beer blogger, dinosaur journalist and poet laureate leading the lineup.
Cultural events such as the Marlborough Book Festival are a boon to the community as they strengthen discussion of ideas, Sonia says. ’’I notice strangers sit next to one another for an hour and after the session will strike up a conversation,’’ she says.
‘‘I love that aspect, it’s healthy for the community because it connects people with common interests. It helps to broaden minds and connect Marlborough with the rest of New Zealand and the rest of the world.’’
More than 1250 tickets have been sold for the festival, with about 80 per cent of tickets going to Marlburians and 20 per cent to readers outside the region.
The festival encompasses six venues, including the Boathouse Theatre and the Millenium Public Art Gallery.
Australian award-winning dinosaur journalist John Pickrell is the event’s first international guest and will detail his time on archeological digs on Saturday and Sunday. Also on the list are historian Dame Anne Salmond, poet Brian Turner, children’s illustrator-author Gavin Bishop and Ockham Award shortlisted authors Catherine Chidgey, Emma Neale and CK Stead.
For the full festival programme or ticketing information, visit the Marlborough Book Festival website.
Dog Point Vineyard co-owners and event sponsors Ivan Sutherland, left, and James Healy read up for the Marlborough Book Festival.