Popular Sri Lankan literary festival draws more than 5,000 participants

A popular Sri Lankan literary festival held within the confines of a Portuguese-built fort in 1588 last week drew nearly 100 local and foreign writers and artists along with over 5,000 literary enthusiasts.

Regarded as one of the biggest literary festivals in this region, the 11th edition of Galle Literary Festival, held in partnership with the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau from January 25 to 28 in the southern beachside city of Galle, attracted a notable increase in the number of international attendees compared to previous years, organisers said.

A panel discussion during the 11th edition of Galle Literary Festival held in Sri Lanka

Returning after a five-year hiatus owing to the pandemic and economic crisis, the festival’s line-up in 2024 reflected a renewed commitment to diversity and inclusion. The star-studded speaker list featured 25 local authors – including Booker Prize winner, Shehan Karunatilaka – as well as a dozen diaspora writers. Among the 27 international participants were several South Asian novelists. The 99-strong cast also comprised nine chefs and 24 moderators, the festival organisers said in a media statement.

There were more than 180 events including talks and panel discussions on topics as varied as the Sri Lankan literary landscape, the female body in the arts, global history on land and water, and how to engage the next generation with the natural world.

A total of 5,392 tickets were issued in 2024, with almost half of all scheduled events sold out. There was widespread coverage of the festival across social media and the international press, while the festival’s digital promotional strategy achieved an online reach in excess of two million people.

Reflecting on this success, Giselle Harding, festival director, said: “We are absolutely thrilled with the attendance and reception for this year’s festival. We firmly believe in the power of the Galle Literary Festival to cement Galle and Sri Lanka as a hub for creative travellers and literary enthusiasts, as well as to inspire and stimulate the growth of a reading culture in Sri Lanka.”

Organisers will soon confirm dates for the 2025 edition.

Sri Lanka is actively promoting events like this festival.

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