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Newcastle Writers Festival to return in April

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Organisers are hoping it’s a case of third time lucky when the Newcastle Writers Festival returns to the local calendar in 2022.

After two years of disruptions due to COVID-19, and subsequent lockdowns, the popular event will celebrate its 10th anniversary from 1 to 3 April.

More than 100 local and interstate writers, who were included in the recently postponed program in September, are now scheduled to visit Newcastle in less than six months’ time.

Festival director Rosemarie Milsom is confident that high rates of vaccination – especially in NSW – will enable the 2022 extravaganza to go ahead.

“By April, it will have been three years since our last ‘live’ festival in 2019, which is hard to believe,” she said.

“Navigating the COVID crisis has been stressful and challenging.

“That we’ve continued to engage audiences and pay writers is testament to the level of support from government funders, sponsors, donors and the wider community.”

Newcastle Writers Festival was the first major literary festival to adopt online delivery in April 2020 as the COVID-19 crisis started to take hold in Australia.

In response to the pandemic, a decision was made to move the event in 2021 from its traditional April dates to September while offering year-round programming, which has included a successful podcast series and online initiatives for primary school students.

The NSW Delta outbreak in June and consequent travel restrictions forced the organisation to announce in July that it was postponing this year’s event.

“The recent COVID-19 crisis unravelled unexpectedly and quickly,” Milsom said.

“But, we are part of a resilient community and it’s important we lead the way with confidence.

“I am very excited about once again sitting in a festival session surrounded by booklovers listening to some of Australia’s most interesting and engaging writers.

“There’s nothing quite like it.”

Milsom said the event would also help boost the local economy through visitation.

The organisation also has a long-standing commitment to Hunter businesses including MacLean’s Booksellers, which manages the popular festival bookstore.

The first guest artist announcement will be made on 3 December.

The program is set to launch on 3 March, with tickets going on sale on 4 March.

There will also be a number of free sessions at the 2022 COVID-safe event.

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