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Why Verb Wellington is the world's coolest little literature festival

By Frances 3 Oct 2019

Wellington is a city that loves a good book - and not just because they good on our coffee tables. We have incredible independent bookstores and each year, Wellington hosts what we reckon is the world's coolest little literature festival. Verb Festival, aka LitCrawl, isn't a sedate bookish affair. It's upbeat, vibrant and held in venues ranging from vintage clothing stores to bars, and has something for everyone regardless of age or whether or not you're into books. 


left bank 3 Photo credit: Matt Bialostocki

1. It's fun

Verb Festival isn’t your average literary festival – it’s vibrant, diverse and fun. The famous and hugely popular Saturday night LitCrawl is kind of like a music festival, with gigs happening all at once and people wandering around trying to jam as much in as possible.

2. It's for everyone 

No matter your age, background, budget, access requirements or reading level, there's something for you at Verb Festival. Check out their website for details on accessible venues

full 3 Photo credit: Matt Bialostocki

3. There's a literary drag show

Lit-Sync for Your Life will shablam the house down in a literary drag show celebrating New Zealand books and writers and featuring a line-up of fearless drag performers including The Bombay Bombshell and Bunny Holiday (House of Drag). 

4. There's good kai 

Verb Festival brings together two of Wellington's great loves - eating and reading - with some special culinary events. Go for high tea at Field & Green and listen as two best-selling New Zealand authors talk about how life inspires their work and there's a tea party to celebrate local poet Lauris Edmond, who gave the city the iconic lines immortalised on the Wellington Writers Walk sculpture trail: "this is the city of action, the world headquarters of the verb". 

5. It's walkable

Because Wellington city is so compact it's super easy to walk between Verb Festival events, which is especially ideal for the Saturday night LitCrawl where 27 events take place in 23 venues in a little over 3 hours – if an event fills up, you can quickly move on to the next one.

Untitled design 49 Photo credit: Vanessa Rushton

6. It's a bargain

Verb Festival is a bargain. Saturday night's LitCrawl events are entry by koha donation ($5 is suggested) and most other events around $15. There are a range of passes available that can save you up to 40% - four trip, six trip or a magical pass that will get you into every event. 

7. Get writing tips from the experts 

There's a bunch of writing workshops on offer ranging from food writing to creative writing, zines to non-fiction. For brave budding writers, there's one featuring a sea swim with writer Annette Lees and there's a session on food, memory and poetry with award-winning poet Nina Mingya Powles. 

Untitled design 51 v2 Photo credit: Jay Anderson

8. Find your new favourite writer

Meet your new (or old) favourite writers: celebrated UK novelist Sarah Moss as she chats to RNZ journalist Noelle McCarthy about her life and work; Canadian novelist D. Nandi Odhiambo, winner of the 2018 Elliot Cades Award whose latest novel Smells Like Stars is described as part-thriller and part-family drama; acclaimed crime writer Val McDermid whose work has been translated into 40 languages and sold over 16 million copies worldwide. 

9. It's great for kids

There's a whole chapter of Verb Festival devoted to events for families and children. KidsCrawl Porirua is a library adventure hunt to find some lost writers and illustrators including Sacha Cotter and Josh Morgan (multi-award-winning creators of The Bomb) and Paul Beavis (Mrs Mo’s Monster).

10. There's a bookshop crawl 

Tour the Riddiford Street bookshops in Newtown and enjoy readings and discussion from some of Aotearoa’s freshest and finest writers.  Afterwards, go for a drink at one of Newtown's great bars - Moon is our pick. 

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