Campbell River literary festival celebrates 20 years

What began in 2002 has blossomed into the longest continually running literary festival on Vancouver Island, heralded across Canada for its vibrant contribution to the literary world. The Words on the Water Writers’ Festival is celebrating its landmark 20th anniversary on Mar. 8 and 9 in Campbell River.

“Such a delightful weekend! So well designed and orchestrated. Flawless in its transitions. Artists: soulful, playful, inspiring talents, one and all,” reflects an attendee, capturing the essence of the festival that has, over the years, brought together contemporary writers and an enthusiastic community of readers each spring.

The festival’s 2024 lineup promises an impressive range of talent, showcasing eight of Canada’s popular authors, including the acclaimed Billy Ray Belcourt, Kevin Chong, Karolyn Smardz Frost, Tsering Yangzom Lama, Yann Martel, Zarqa Nawaz, Lenore Newman, and Harrison Mooney. These authors, each distinguished in their respective fields, offer themes for any readership.

Billy Ray Belcourt, a poet from the Driftpile Cree Nation and a celebrated academic, brings his award-winning expertise to the festival. Kevin Chong, with his diverse literary contributions and deep roots in creative writing education, offers a window into the complex worlds crafted in his novels. Karolyn Smardz Frost, an archaeologist and historian, bridges past and present with her profound explorations of race, slavery, and imperialism.

On the roster

The Friday evening panel will introduce guest writers, setting the stage for a weekend of literary exploration, while Saturday’s sessions offer readings and Q&As. The Saturday evening cabaret provides a final, celebratory glance at the authors, complete with local musical talent and a no-host bar.

“I have only missed one Words on the Water Festival due to another commitment. They are unfailingly excellent and this year’s authors are among the best. It’s a spring highlight for all of us,” shares another attendee.

As Words on the Water prepares to mark its 20th anniversary, it stands as a testament to the enduring power of literature to connect, inspire, and transform. With strong community support and a commitment to showcasing the best of Canadian writing, the festival not only celebrates the achievements of its distinguished guests but also ignites the imaginations of its attendees, fostering a deeper appreciation for the art of storytelling.

For more information about the festival, its history, and ticket details, visit and follow them on Facebook for updates and more!

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