A Festival for Readers

Open air. Open book. Open mind.

Slow down and just listen at this pedestrian-friendly, outdoor festival for readers.

Every September since 1989, the Eden Mills Writers’ Festival has been offering readers a showcase of established and emerging Canadian writing in the village in Eden Mills. A hamlet of 350 residents with century-old stone buildings nestled along the Eramosa River, Eden Mills is 15 minutes east of Guelph and 1 hour west of Toronto.  On festival day, village streets are closed to traffic, and the community of festival goers lounge on the grass, on blankets, or in lawn chairs to enjoy readings from some of Canada’s very finest writers and most exciting new talents.  Accessible, shaded seating is also available at every venue. The festival features food trucks and vendors, a licensed patio, and a book market along the main street that includes an authors’ book signing tent.  Approachable and welcoming, the village festival offers readers an idyllic outdoor setting to laze away an early autumn day in the grass among friends and in the company of authors.

Readings on the grassy riverbank

The main festival takes place over the course of a day, from noon to 6pm, and includes five time slots at five accessible, outdoor venues and one indoor venue all located within the small village of Eden Mills.  Sets of three writers read from their recent work at intimate venues including expansive grassy gardens that slope down to the water.  Venues include the Common, Sculpture Garden, Cottage, Mill, Rivermead (indoor), and Jenny’s Place (children’s area).   The venues are at most three minutes’ walking distance from each other (at most 500 meters) over paved streets reserved for pedestrians. Buses take festival goers from the parking area down into the village, or guests can choose to walk the less-than 1km down to the festival.

Accessible, casual and friendly

The festival presents 40 to 50 established and emerging Canadian writers every year including fiction writers, poets, nonfiction writers, playwrights, spoken word poets, young adult and children’s authors.  It also features the winners of the festival’s writers’ competitions for new talent, Guelph-area writers, and MFA students from the Guelph/Humber MFA in Creative Writing. Our special children’s area hosts children’s writers and the much-loved local magician Ben Caesar each year.

What you need to know

Unlike most literary festivals where tickets must be purchased separately for each event or reading set, an Eden Mills Writers’ Festival ticket for festival day includes access to all reading sets and events offered that day. Ticket prices are $25 for adults and $15 for students. Children under 14 are free. Advance tickets can be purchased at a $5 discount beginning in August at The Bookshelf in downtown Guelph or online at emwftix.ca. Poor Internet service in the village limits our ability to provide a banking machine. The gate and many vendors can only accept cash. Since you will undoubtedly be tempted to buy a book or a snack at the Food Court, please be ready to pay cash for purchases.

This year, the big day is September 10. Bring a friend, a blanket or folding chair and be prepared for an afternoon of inspiration and discovery.