Kingston WritersFest returns in traditional, in-person format

This week marks the return of Kingston WritersFest, as the festival makes its return to in-person programming for the first time since 2019. Image via Kingston WritersFest

After two years of virtual programming, Kingston WritersFest is back this week, as the popular autumn event returns to its familiar in-person format beginning this Wednesday. The festival, now in its 14th year, runs through Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022, with more than 40 different talks scheduled over the five-day event. With acclaimed authors like Heather O’Neill, Jessamine Chan, Nita Prose, Shyam Selvadurai, and more set to take part, Kingston WritersFest 2022 has something for everyone. 

“We are delighted to welcome our authors and audiences back to the festival,” says Artistic Director Aara Macauley. “The past few years have been a tangible reminder of what we’ve missed about in-person programming. We have an incredibly engaged audience that asks smart and thoughtful questions. They want to get below the surface, and see how the authors tick. That was the inspiration for our 2022 festival – to celebrate that enthusiasm and curiosity.”

The 2022 Kingston WritersFest will officially launch with an event featuring acclaimed Canadian novelist Heather O’Neil. Image via Kingston WritersFest

In total, this year’s WritersFest features 43 different talks, workshops, and panels, the majority of which are set to take place at the Holiday Inn Kingston-Waterfront, located at 2 Princess Street. Throughout the week, attendees will have the opportunity to hear from some of the country’s most celebrated writers. The festival officially gets underway on Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022, with An Evening with Heather O’Neill, as the award-winning Canadian novelist discusses her latest book When We Lost Our Heads

Some familiar events from years past are back for 2022, such as The Big Idea, hosted by Carol Off, a former host of the iconic CBC radio show As It Happens. This year, Off will lead an enriching discussion on the “weaponization of words and what it means for society.” At another returning fan-favourite event, The Book Lovers Lunch, publisher Brent McNally will provide audiences with a special glimpse into the world of Canadian literary publishing.

This year’s festival also features several new events, including a special literary Trivia Night hosted by Canadian comedian and Canada Reads host, Ali Hassan. Hassan will also take part in a special comedy writing workshop on the evening of Friday, Sep. 30, 2022. 

Organizers have also curated a series of talks centred around the theme “Beneath the Surface,” with events featuring important conversations on issues like climate change, mental health, and racial, social, and cultural identity. The series’ marquee talk, The Myth of Normal, will see international mental health and addictions expert Dr. Gabor Maté discuss issues such as trauma and healing, alongside psychology expert Dr. Mike Condra.

In addition to many prominent national and international writers, this year’s festival features a popular Kingston novelist. Ian Reid will be on hand for Late Nights with KWF on Wednesday, Sep. 28, 2022, sitting down with Kingston WritersFest’s Artistic Director Aara Macauley for a conversation about his latest book We Spread, which is set to be released just the day before that event. 

Stephen Heighton in Montreal in 2021. Submitted photo.

Kingston WritersFest 2022 will come to a close with a special open mic event in honour of the late Steven Heighton, an award-winning Kingston-based poet who passed away earlier this year. The event, scheduled for the afternoon of Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022 at the Broom Factory (305 Rideau Street), will feature a performance by Poetry In Voice National Finals winner Lauren Altomare, with members of the public invited to recite their own work as the community comes together to celebrate Heighton’s literary legacy.

A full list of festival events and ticket information can be found at

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