About Us

About Us

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.


Wordfest’s General Director

_sml-Shelley_0269-forWebInterim General Director Shelley Youngblut is a passionate advocate for community engagement. A veteran Wordfest host and author, she was previously the Western Editor of the Globe and Mail and founding editor of Swerve, the Calgary Herald’s award-winning weekly magazine. A regular member of the Unconventional Panel on CBC Calgary’s The Eyeopener, Youngblut is a past participant of the Banff Centre’s Literary Journalism, Wired Writing Studio and Arts Journalism programs, as well as the Stanford Professional Publishing Program. She also packaged three sports books for Hyperion: The Quotable ESPN, Did You Know? and Way Inside ESPN’s X Games, which was named one of the best books for teens by the New York Public Library. Youngblut created her first magazine, VOX, while majoring in English at the University of Calgary, and has since been an editor at ESPN the Magazine, Seventeen, Cosmopolitan, Western Living, West and Toronto magazines. In 2009, she was the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Western Magazine Awards for her contributions to the literary arts in Western Canada.

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.

Additional Information