Arts & Attractions


Auckland Writers Festival is back in 2021; announce jam-packed program

Talk about a good read!

The 2021 Auckland Writers Festival is ready to bring together a plethora of literary guests this May.

More than 200 writers – including more than 20 international guests – will come together across six jam-packed days of discussion, conversation, reading, debate, performance, marking the country’s biggest celebration of New Zealand writing.

Fellow creatives and budding writers can expect to draw on their immense knowledge and find inspiration across a week of engaging and exciting events and panels.

The 2021 program is brimming with exciting sessions to dive into, and readers across a variety of interests – from politics to poetry and music to crime or journalism – will find something they can enjoy.

The 2021 Festival is very much a celebration of us, here and now. While we’ve had to take a slightly different approach this year, given our closed borders, we’ve curated a programme that is as full as ever and even managed to hunt out some international writers based in Aotearoa.

Anne O’Brien, Auckland Writers Festival Director

What can we expect from the 2021 Auckland Writers Festival program?

Nobel Laureate and former Booker Prize-winner Kazuo Ishiguro, and artist, activist, architect, curator, and filmmaker Ai Weiwei will livestream on the Kiri Te Kanawa Theatre screen in the Aotea Centre, to be interviewed by an on-stage facilitator.

The Winter Series of live online discussions is back. Hosted by Paula Morris, she’ll be joined in conversation by novelist, feminist, and philanthropist Isabel Allende; actor and memoirist Gabriel Byrne; novelist and short story writer Yiyun Li; novelist and essayist Marilynne Robinson; 2020 Costa Novel Award winner Monique Roffey.

2021 Booker Winner Douglas Stuart joins Kiwis based overseas, including award-winning writer and host of the On Writing podcast JP Pomare; award-winning filmmaker, screenwriter, poet and script consultant Miro Bilbrough; and Mohamed Hassan, National Slam Champion, and Ockham NZ Book Awards poetry short-lister.

The Festival will welcome a lineup of international writers in-person, including multi-award winning writer Neil Gaiman; French style influencer Garance Doré; rare book dealer and author Rick Gekoski; Australia’s Victorian Prize for Literature 2021 recipient Laura Jean McKay; forensic pathologist and columnist Judy Melinek with her husband and co-author of her New York Times bestseller Working Stiff; TJ Mitchell; performer Amanda Palmer; and award-winning Australian novelist and former park ranger Carrie Tiffany.

In a very special onstage event, Auckland Writers Festival will present one of 2020’s most spectacular new international theatre productions, the Donmar Warehouse’s Blindness. Direct from seasons in London and New York, the theatre adaptation of Nobel Laureate José Saramago’s 1995 novel is a thrilling sound installation and immersive theatre experience delivered via headphones in a physically-distanced room, with multiple performances per day.

And that is only scraping the surface.

There are more than 100 festival hosted events to treat literature lovers this year. Some of the highlights include:

Journalist David Cohen, author Caitlin Spice, and author, poet, speaker, and activist Sonya Renee Taylor will take up a debate with Catriona Ferguson about one of the most polarising social movements of our time: cancel culture.

Moana Maniapoto will talk to Reb Fountain, Marlon Williams, and Tom Scott about songwriting.

Book dealer Rick Gekoski will host an intimate lunch at Masu, sharing tales of a world full of legacy and billionaires, priceless books, and mystery.

Former political prisoner Behrouz Boochani will talk to Julie Hill about his award-winning book.

The Festival’s workshop series will also be in full swing, with sessions on short fiction, memoir, picture books, self-editing, writing young adult, and more locked in.

The 2021 Auckland Writers Festival is truly brimming with sessions and events to enjoy for every casual reader, bibliophile, budding writer, and creative to sink their teeth into. Explore the whole program on the Festival’s website.

How do I buy tickets to multiple 2021 Auckland Writers Festival sessions?

We know there is so much to enjoy in this year’s Auckland Writers Festival program, so we’re making it easier than ever to book multiple tickets in the same order.

Head to this page for more information.

The Auckland Writers Festival will take place in various venues across Tāmaki Makaurau from Tuesday 11 May until Sunday 16 May 2021. Tickets are in sale via