Ubud Writers and Readers Festival, 2019
October 23 - October 27
The Ubud Writers and Readers Festival 2019 (often called the Ubud Writers Festival), an annual literary and artistic event held in the central Bali town of Ubud in October, will celebrate its 16th year as what has become Southeast Asia’s leading festival of words and ideas.
A yearly pilgrimage for word lovers worldwide, the Ubud Writers Festival transcends cultural and physical borders, inviting both artists and audiences to enjoy and participate in public discussions, intimate literary lunches, live performances and hands-on workshops where budding writers can learn new skills and get feedback from experts.
Attracting over 150 writers, artists and performers from all over the globe, the theme of this year’s edition is “Karma”, based on the Hindu philosophy where each action prompts an equally forceful consequence which is similar in form. Leading journalists, literary luminaries and emerging writers will engage in conversations to discuss the question of whether we’re fully aware of our actions and their consequences, and what is the best way to respond to the actions of others.
The festival’s organiser, Janet DeNeefe, links this year’s theme of Karma directly with the world’s most urgent issues of global warming and ecological meltdown. While global leaders in positions of power continue to drag their feet on taking meaningful action, the festival’s participants will discuss the meaning of Karma in today’s world, and consider its consequences when we don’t take up our responsibilities.
For more on this town in Central Bali, check out our Things to Do in Ubud: a Town Hiding in Plain Sight.
The Ubud Writers and Readers Festival 2019 has been named by the UK newspaper The Telegraph as one of this year’s five best literary events. Glimpsing at the first round of announced storytellers, this year once again promises to be a culturally and artistically diverse line-up with names including Chinese-American award-winning author Jenny Zhang; bestselling author Parag Khanna; Zimbabwean-American debut writer Novuyo Rosa Tshuma who addresses colonisation and decolonisation topics; one of Britain’s most popular food writers Yotam Ottolenghi, together with award-winning novelist Laksmi Pamuntjak from Indonesia who writes about food on the path to self-discovery; Human Rights Watch’s Andreas Harsono will put the archipelago’s minorities and marginalised communities in the spotlight while visual artist and writer Lala Bohang experiments with invisible, forbidden and imaginary matters of Indonesian society; Susan Orlean who is the author of the bestsellers The Library Book and The Orchid Thief; and many others.
Stay tuned for updated information on 2019’s edition as more programme details are released by the organisers.
Ubud Writers and Readers Festival origins
Brainchild of Australian-born Janet DeNeefe, the Ubud Writers Festival grew out of a healing project in response to the 2002 Bali bombings. Wanting the world to see that Bali could move on after the bombings, DeNeefe set off to develop the festival which, after starting small in 2004, has now evolved into one of the world’s most celebrated literary and artistic events.
Ubud Writers Festival 2019: writers, artists and activists
The festival’s last year’s lineup was a powerful illustration of the event’s truly multi-cultural character. For up-to-date programme information, visit the organisers’ Program Changes page.
Ubud Writers Festival: Emerging Writers
Emerging Indonesian writers will also be presented in an anthology offering visitors a unique insight into Indonesian language, culture, history and mythology. Click here for more details of the Emerging Writers Program.
Accommodation in Ubud and flights
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Further information on the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival 2019
The events of the festival are spread out over different venues with the main ones located on Jalan Raya Sanggingan, about five minutes from the town’s centre. Most events are ticketed while some are free. For details of ticket prices and purchases, venue location, how to get there and other festival details, visit the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival 2019 website.
Cover photo credit: Anggara Mahendra