Literary Festivals of the Caribbean

This is just a listing – some of these I’ve been to, some not; just sharing all the ones of which I’m aware. You can also read my round-up of Caribbean literary festivals – published January 2016 in Writers’ Digest – here.

AnguillaThe Anguilla Lit Fest – a Literary Jollification was held for the first time in May 2012 and attracted none less than bestselling author Terry McMillan and Antigua and Barbuda’s own Marie Elena John. Here are some pictures and links from my participation in 2015.

with students at the Anguilla Lit Fest (photo by Barbara Arrindell)

With students who came out for my panel at the Anguilla Lit Fest, 2015. These are among students there studying my first book The Boy from Willow Bend which is on the schools’ reading list in Anguilla.

Antigua and Barbuda – The Antigua and Barbuda International Literary Festival started in November 2006 – Here’s a post I did about the first year of the festival  – but has been on hiatus for several years.

ABILF 2010 - Copy

Me, under the children’s tent at the 2010 ABILF, reading from Ashley Bryan’s Dancing Granny, the same story the kids dramatize in my book Musical Youth.

Barbados – Bim Literary Festival and Book Fair, held in May, first took place in 2012. Visit their website for updates. Here are some images and memories I shared from my participation in the BIM Lit Fest in 2016.


Participants in the 2016 BIM Lit Fest: front row, left to right, Olive Senior, A-dZiko Gegele, Selma James, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, Tanya Shirley, and Evan Marshall (son of Paule Marshall who was there to collect a lifetime achievement award on her behalf). Middle row, left to right, me (Joanne C. Hillhouse), Mrs. Foster, and Esther Phillips; back row, Cecil Foster, Bernice McFadden, and Mervyn Morris.

Cayman Islands – Gimistory is the Cayman Islands International Storytelling Festival; read more on it here.

CubaThe Havana International Book Fair is typically held in February. Here’s a BBC Review

Dominica – The Nature Island Literary Festival was started by Alwyn Bully in 2007. It’s held each August. I had the opportunity to attend in 2012 and wrote this. Check their facebook  or festival website  for updates.


With Adrian Green of Barbados at the Nature Island Literary Festival.

GuadeloupeCongress of Caribbean Writers is held in April. I participated and blogged about it in 2013.  Like Bocas, there is a literary prize attached.


Reading before Caribbean writers and readers during the Congress of Caribbean Writers in Guadeloupe in 2013.

Jamaica – The Calabash International Literary Festival at Treasure Beach in St. Elizabeth was started in 2001. I was part of a group of Antiguan and Barbudan writers that attended the May festival in 2007 with backing from the Commonwealth Foundation and the mood of the event was appreciated by us all. I shared the experience here.
NPR review & Guardian UK review

Calabash pic

From left, S E James, me (Joanne C. Hillhouse), Akilah, Brenda Lee, Caryl Philips (British author of St. Kitts descent), and Marie Elena John.

It should be noted as well that Jamaica has several other festivals such as the International Storytelling Conference and Festival, the Two Seasons Talking Trees Literary Fiesta, and the Kingston Book Festival – the latter, a project of the Book Industry Association of Jamaica, is held in March. Check their website and facebook for updates.

Montserrat – Alliougana Festival of the Word dates back to 2009. November. Check their website and facebook for updates.

New York – I intended to limit this to festivals taking place in the Caribbean…buuut the Caribbean Cultural Theatre Celebration of the Word rates a mention as does their running series of readings by authors from the region. Here’s its facebook page.

St. Martin/Sint Maarten – St. Martin Book Fair is a project of the Conscious Lyrics Foundation and the House of Nehesi Publishers. I participated in this event in 2014 and shared some images here. See their website and facebook for updates.


One of the things that the St. Martin book fair promotes is engagement with local students; so, here I am engaging.

St. Lucia – In St. Lucia, there are a couple of things – Nobel Laureate Week, which given that the star attraction is the country’s Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott, counts as a literary event and the WordAlive Literary Festival (Adrian Augier on WordAlive).

Trinidad and Tobago – The Bocas Literary Festival, started in 2011, has a major literary prize and a grant for emerging writers attached. In addition to the main festival, there are a couple of regional satellite festivals in other parts of the country including sister island Tobago. Check their website and facebook for updates.
Bocas Review by Annie Paul and my experience here.


It was at Bocas that I collected my Burt Award second place trophy from sponsor of the Burt Award, William Burt – Photo source

V I Literary Festival – The Festival has been held every year since 2015, the year I attended, at the University of the Virgin Islands.


At the VI Lit Fest with Jamaica Kincaid and Opal Palmer Adisa.

Beyond the Caribbean – there are, of course, many, many festivals beyond the Caribbean; this link points to some of the ones in the North American area, and specifically the ones with a strong, though not exclusive, African-American fan base – such as the Brooklyn Book Fair which I attended in 2015.


My panel with, far right, Tanwi Nadini Islam, Matthew McGevna, and Ian Maloney. Shout out to Antiguan designer Miranda Askie for outfitting me for this trip.

You can see others that I have participated in here  and, of course, when it comes to searching for festivals in your area, google is your friend.

If there’s a Caribbean festival that you feel has been overlooked, please send me the information at …but be polite, no oversights are intentional.

As with all content on,except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Oh Gad!, Fish Outta Water, Musical Youth, and forthcoming With Grace). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on Amazon, WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about Wadadli Pen and my books. You can also subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.

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