The Byron Bay Writers Festival had its beginnings in 1997, when a small group of locals led by Chris Hanley wondered whether authors might accept an invitation to spend a winter's weekend in Byron Bay. They did, and an audience of two hundred locals enjoyed a gathering of fifty Australian writers. Since then, the Festival has grown from a single venue event to fill four huge marquees and venues around town and sells 45,000 individual tickets. The guest list now numbers more than one hundred and over the years the most significant and respected contemporary Australian writers have participated through lectures, lunches, panels, conversations, launches and readings.
The focus of the program is firmly on Australian writing, with recognition of our physical place in the world through the inclusion of Indonesian and Asian authors. The Byron Bay Writers Festival enjoys a close relationship with the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival and believes that through words and ideas, bridges are formed that cross cultures and schisms. Fundamentally, the Festival provides a forum for intelligent discussion and guests are invited to address the issues that matter to them as writers and which necessarily concern us all. It is a celebration of the vitality of thought and creativity with a healthy emphasis on fun.
The Byron Bay Writers Festival is organised by the staff and Committee of the Northern Rivers Writers' Centre, a member based organisation receiving core funding from Arts NSW.