Deliberately, Jonathan clicked the link to the About Us page. He couldn’t decide whether to read it now at work, or wait until he returned home to his leather reading chair and mobile tablet. Just then he saw Rachel, her hair waving in the unusually warm autumn wind and cashmere sweater partially unbuttoned. The website would have to wait.


Wordfest™ is a not-for-profit organization that brings readers and writers together to experience the power of story through accessible and engaging programming in Calgary and the Bow Valley.

Wordfest hosts year-round literary events featuring the world’s best writers. Over 900 writers have presented at these events over the past 19 years. Festival authors have included Margaret Atwood, Douglas Coupland, John Irving, Chuck Palahniuk, Richard Ford, Alexander McCall Smith and David Suzuki.

The Festival: October 13-18, 2015

Wordfest’s main event is a literary festival that features upwards of 70 writers from the local, national and international stage. The Festival has approximately 70 separate events across Calgary and attracts an audience of over 15,000.

Our programming is accessible, engaging and promotes a love of reading and a curiosity about the writing life. Events include poetry and spoken word performances, current event panels, publishing industry workshops, art installations, youth and multilingual programming, in-school performances and featured events with the biggest and brightest stars of the book scene.

Wordfest Youth: October 13-18, 2015

Wordfest Youth is a popular youth and education program that brings students together with authors to stimulate literacy and encourage a love of reading and writing. As part of its commitment to youth literacy, Wordfest also created the Book Buddies program, which subsidizes literary events for high-needs and at-risk youth. Wordfest supports accessibility and engagement for readers of all ages.

Year-Round Events

In addition to the annual Festival, Wordfest hosts various events throughout the year. Year-round initiatives range from public celebrations, community booths and audio-visual streaming projects to marquee presentations that bring some of the world’s best writers to Southern Alberta.

Director’s Vision

Wordfest’s annual literary festival brings thousands of people of all ages together to share a love of reading and writing. This celebration of the written word connects Calgarians to worlds beyond their imagination and events beyond their experience. There is nothing more powerful than a story well told and it is through reading that we are exposed to new ideas that help us understand the world around us. Wordfest is a non-profit, charitable organization committed to promoting a culture of reading and storytelling.

Jo-Steffens-72dpi-310-466-199x300Jo Steffens, a Calgary native, returned home from the United States to take the Director position at Wordfest in 2010. Steffens moved from New York, NY, where she was a curator at The Municipal Art Society (MAS) and director of their bookstore. Steffens founded the Independent Booksellers of New York City with Sarah McNally. She also brings a depth of experience in new technologies and their application to the literary arts. Steffens has launched a series of books based on one of her MAS exhibits. Unpacking My Library, Architects and Their Books (Yale University Press) is the first book of the photographic series that has gone on to look inside the libraries of writers and artists.

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