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The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature: Your Questions Answered

The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature: Your Questions Answered

If your child is clamouring to meet Horrid Henry’s Francesca Simon or hear the dazzling Lucy Hawking, but you don’t know what to expect from the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature 2017, WhichSchoolAdvisor.com spoke to the Festival’s Head of Programming, Gillian Henney to get all your questions answered…

What are the main objectives of the team when putting together the children’s programme? We aim to bring a selection of the big, household names and up-and-coming talent that we think fit with the ethos of the Festival and who audiences here will love. When choosing authors, we’re considering a good mix of backgrounds, genres, styles – and a nice blend of writers and illustrators, too. In terms of research, we consider requests from the public (recommendations can be made via the website), industry information, award recognition, trends in the market – and of course our own reviews of their books. Then when we have an author confirmed, we programme their sessions to highlight their talents and skills, and showcase the best of their work.

It’s my first time taking my son/daughter to the Litfest, what can i expect? A warm welcome! The atmosphere at the LitFest is such a buzz – the days are packed with sessions of such a variety: you will see crowds of people of all ages bustling around the Event Centre, clutching books ready to be signed, and hoping to catch a glimpse of their favourite author. Sessions are held in the Event Centre rooms, and we have a bookshop filled with visiting authors’ books, a signing area where visitors can meet authors after sessions, the Time Out Story Corner with fun things to do for free, and a beautiful area outside by the creek where you can grab some food and enjoy entertainment from the Fringe stage. You may even be lucky enough to spot Lina LitFest – our tortoise mascot!

What happens in a litfest children’s session?  I don’t think any two sessions are the same. Usually, the author will treat the audience to a reading of their book – and there is nothing more magical than hearing a writer read their own story aloud. Sometimes, the author will talk about their books and the inspiration behind their stories; they may show pictures, or do a fun demonstration with props, or even do a live drawing. Many will interact with the audience, asking for fun suggestions for a story, or to join in with a read-along or to take part on stage.

There is always a chance to ask questions at the end, and for visitors to get their books signed in the signing area after the session.

I really want to bring my child along to an author session, however, the author is pretty popular when/how should i book? Are tickets available on the door? Popular children’s session usually sell out fast, so I recommend that you get your tickets online as soon as you’re ready, to avoid disappointment. Tickets are also available at Magrudy’s bookstores and the Emirates Literature Foundation offices in Shindagha.

The session I want to attend with my child says it’s out of our age range, what should i do? We include age ranges as an indication for visitors, rather than a rule. For example, some seven-year-olds will be very comfortable in a ‘9+’ session, as much as some adults will enjoy the YA sessions. We hope it’s helpful as a guide, but you know your children’s tastes and interests (and attention spans!) best, so please do use your own judgement. Please contact us if you need specific advice.

If I’m attending with my child, do I also buy a ticket for myself? If it is for a regular session, then yes – with the benefit that you also pay at the children’s price. If you have a younger child who is participating in a workshop, you don’t need to buy a ticket, and may attend as a spectator. Please refer to the event information on the website for details, and do contact us if you have any specific queries.


I only want to take my child to one Litfest session, what else happening at the festival? There are lots of things happening at the Festival – you can enjoy the free storytelling areas, wander around the craft stalls, enjoy some food in the sun, and relax by the Fringe stage, where we have music and entertainment throughout the weekends. Wander around the Festival site and soak up the atmosphere, then go for a browse in the book shop.

However, please do try to sample several sessions if you can. We have such an exciting range of authors in 2017, and part of the fun is trying something new, or seeing an author you haven’t heard of before. You can also take your child to one of our family-friendly adult sessions.

I would like to attend two sessions back-to-back, is this possible? The answer is yes.  All of our room venues are in the InterContinental Event Centre, and within a short walk of each other. We also ensure that we have at least half an hour between sessions so that there is plenty time to attend two or more sessions in a row.  Many visitors like to pack several sessions into their day.


The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature 2017 will run from the 3rd to the 11th of March 2017 at the InterContinental Hotel, Dubai Festival City. Visit the festival website for more information and ticket sales. 

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