The Fairway Galle Literary Festival, since first launching in 2007 has become one of the most anticipated literary events in south east Asia for both authors and literary enthusiasts around the world.
The festival is celebrated annually, in and around the historic Dutch Galle Fort, an UNESCO World Heritage Site, located on the southern shores of the tropical isle of Sri Lanka (Ceylon).
“I have spoken at dozens of book festivals around the world, and Galle was perhaps the most welcoming and memorable. Please invite us back.” – Professor Richard Dawkins (Fairway Galle Literary Festival 2012)
It’s intimate format allows visitors the opportunity to appreciate the works of Sri Lankan and international authors, to take part in literary discussions and enjoy other writerly, readerly, archeological, ecological, philosophical, cultural, musical, artistic, and culinary activities in a beautiful and unique setting.
During the day the Fairway Galle Literary Festival features writing workshops, panel discussions, topical debates, poetry readings, cooking classes, theatre workshops and literary lunches, while during the night there are poetry slams, jazz performances, wine tastings, art showings and photographic exhibitions, which take place at historical landmark locations, boutique hotels, and private properties, making this festival truly an immersive cultural experience that celebrates literature and the arts.
“I appreciate the Galle Literary Festival for bringing readers and books together without creating a flea market atmosphere. It underscores the connection of communities and ideas. At the heart of every discussion is an examination of how literature helps us more effectively share our world.” – Gregory Pardlo (Fairway Galle Literary Festival 2016)
The Fairway Galle Literary Festival was the first ever international literary festival to be held in Sri Lanka, founded by adventurer/hotelier Geoffrey Dobbs in 2007. This ambitious venture launched with an impressive line-up of accomplished international and local authors such as the late great Arthur C. Clarke, Kiran Desai (winner of the Man Booker Prize, 2006), Sir Mark Tully and Romesh Gunesekera.
Geoffrey Dobbs noted that people’s reaction to his idea was: “You’re completely crazy!” But crazy things do happen and successfully with the correct drive and vision, especially when the voices of skepticism fall on deaf ears as it did with the founder. It was clear by the third day of the inaugural event that the enthusiasm generated amongst the attending Sri Lankan and international literati who had flocked to the venue had surpassed the expectations of even it’s organizers.
“Why is the festival great? It uses one of the most beautiful places on the planet to make a marketplace of thought and an oasis of feeling. I loved being there because the scale is human, and the humans are kind and welcoming, the food wonderful and the balmy evenings allow long conversations on any subject into the night” – Fiona Shaw (Fairway Galle Literary Festival 2016)
By 2011, The Fairway Galle Literary Festival had been dubbed by Harpers Bazaar UK as the ‘No. 1 literary festival in the world’ and continued it’s growth through 2012, with the attendance of literary contemporaries such as Joanna Trollope, Tom Stoppard and Richard Dawkins.
The festival then took an 3 year hiatus, but made a triumphant return in 2016 with the support of title sponsor, Fairway Holdings (Pvt) Ltd.
The Fairway Galle Literary Festival 2016 hosted 83 participants, both local and from around the world. Authors, historians, explorers, environmentalists, actors and poets took part in 102 sessions across the four days of the festival.
The 2016 festival also debuted 2 mini-festivals which took place in the cities of Kandy and Jaffna. The FGLF 2016 also launched the ‘Fairway National Literary Award‘ which recognizes the best Sri Lankan novel in the languages of Sinhala, Tamil and English, in addition to being selected as the venue for the presentation of the 2016 DSC Prize for South Asian Literature, which was won by attending author Anuradha Roy.
“The FGLF throws people, cultures, hot ideas, hot food, laughter, poetry and arrack together in a beautiful country. Pointless to resist.” – Sebastian Faulks (Fairway Galle Literary Festival 2016)
The Fairway Galle Literary Festival 2018 will take place in Galle from January 24 through January 28th 2018.
“The Galle Literary Festival has made literature amazingly exciting in Sri Lanka. It is a wonderful space for all of us—writers and readers—and a tribute to the importance of books in our lives. The encouragement it gives to reading and writing in Sri Lanka is immense!” – Romesh Gunesekera (Fairway Galle Literary Festival 2007)
“Galle literary festival is a remarkable experience. It’s not just in a marvelous place, but also manages to be both distinguished and intimate. It’s focus is, quite properly, on reading and writing rather than celebrity, and the audiences are a treat – warm, highly literate and curious.“ – Joanna Trollope (Fairway Galle Literary Festival 2012)
“The festival was just what one wishes a literary festival to be, a treat and a tonic.” – Sir Tom Stoppard (Fairway Galle Literary Festival 2012)