THE Bendigo Writers Festival has bounced back in a big way, with more than 6500 attendees over four days, following the event's cancellation in 2020 and a COVID-impacted event in 2021.
Produced by the City of Greater Bendigo and supported by La Trobe University, the highly successful festival not only showcased local, regional and national writers and thinkers, but beamed in international talent to the delight of audiences.
In addition to sessions programmed in multiple venues in View Street and Ulumbarra Theatre, Bendigo came alive over the festival weekend with events held at local restaurants, the Great Stupa, La Trobe Art Institute, Blind Cow Pottery and the Bendigo Library, as the festival celebrated a successful return to a full-program format.
Bendigo Venues and Events manager Julie Amos said it was wonderful to see great numbers flock to central Victoria's premier literary festival and enjoy diverse and inspiring conversations.
"What a thrill to see the Bendigo Writers Festival back in a very big way," Ms Amos said.
"The dynamic program was incredibly well-supported, and event feedback has been universally positive.
"Not only did we see attendances increase, we also saw a 30 per cent increase in box office sales in comparison to 2021.
"The Bendigo Writers Festival saw thousands of local and regional students and book lovers share in great stories and stimulating discussions, as well as attracting thousands of visitors to Bendigo."
An analysis of data and ticket sales from the festival shows more than 45 per cent of attendees came from outside Bendigo - 22 per cent from metropolitan Melbourne and just under five per cent of the audience were from interstate.
"The Wordspot schools' day was also popular - with more nearly 1800 local and regional students from 17 schools attending a variety of entertaining sessions.
"The Bendigo Writers Festival continues to showcase our literary talent, as well as our beautiful city."
Bendigo Writers Festival director Rosemary Sorensen said the experience of organisers really counted in the success of the festival.
"To see writers such as Elizabeth Gilbert on the big screen in Ulumbarra Theatre and Michael Holding in the Bendigo Bank Theatre at The Capital was exhilarating, and clear evidence that Bendigo has the reputation and the courage to think big, as well as the optimism to make it happen.
"It is a joy to see the festival being part of the flourishing cultural life of this city and region."
The Bendigo Writers Festival will continue to host regular Bookmark events as organisers prepare for the next major festival in May 2023.
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