- Go by yourself. No, really, this is by far the best way, because you don't have to consider anyone else's feelings. There's none of that Are you ready for coffee? or What do you think about trying the politics tent? If you want to talk to someone, there'll be plenty of folk to engage with.
- Sign up for advance notice of who's speaking, because the best and most famous speakers (not necessarily the same thing) will be booked up quickly and often on the day the tickets are released.
- If you're planning to queue up for a signed copy, buy your book before the talk so you can be near the head of the line.
- Go with an open mind and buy a ticket for at least one speaker you've never heard of, or at least whose books you've never ready.
- Check your timings! There is usually a reasonable changeover between speakers, but make sure you haven't left yourself five minutes to get to the other side of town. Chances are that latecomers won't be admitted.
- Leave at least one session free so that you can book it on the day. Yes, this means you will probably end up in a sparsely populated tent listening to someone talk about something obscure, but this may well turn out to be your lightbulb moment.
- As well your notebook and several pens, take a bottle of water and a few (discreet) snacks. It will save you wasting valuable time queuing for an overpriced wrap.
- Explore the grounds/town. There are often pop-up sessions going on in odd corners of the venue. I've come across a lovely poetry readings, street performers, string quartets: all sorts of things and all for free. Don't forget to throw some money in the hat.
- Just sit. Watch the world go buy. Assimilate what you've heard and seen. Make a few notes.
- Become a volunteer at the festival. You will be exhilarated, stimulated and exhausted in equal measure, but boy: you'll have a great time.
Wednesday, 27 July 2016
Making the most of a lit fest
Everyone has their own plan of attack when they go to a literary festival (or any other festival, for that matter). This is what works for me.