Book fes­ti­val re­turns to show­case re­gion

Marlborough Express - The Saturday Express, Marlborough - - FRONT PAGE - JEF­FREY KITT

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.

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