Special Events

Bookmarks Festival of Books and Authors - September 5-8, 2019

Bookmarks Festival of Books and Authors, the largest book and author festival in the Carolinas celebrates 15 years with the 2019 festival in downtown Winston-Salem September 5 - 8. This year, the festival celebrates "the power of story," encouraging reader and attendees to "travel all over the world" exploring a wealth of subjects and issues. The four-day festival takes place primarily along Spruce Street and inside the contemporary Milton Rhodes Center for the Arts. Special events are also hosted in Bookmarks Bookstore downtown on Fourth Street. 

Each year, more than 15,000 festival goers enjoy enriching panel discussions with national best-selling authors, Eat & Greet events and exciting family activities that engage young readers. More than 50 guest authors attending have written a cumulative 300 New York Times best sellers and are winners of prestigious awards such as the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and the Coretta Scott King Honor Award.

Saturday's festival (from 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.) is free and chock full of author sessions, various reading-related exhibitors, food trucks, and creative activities for children. These events take place at the Milton Rhodes Center for the Arts and the surrounding areas on Spruce, Poplar, and Holly Streets in downtown Winston-Salem.

Thursday, Sept. 5

Opening Keynote with Casey Cep
Time: Doors open at 6:30 p.m.; event starts at 7 p.m.
Location: Hanesbrands Theatre (209 N. Spruce St., Winston-Salem, NC)
Free admission

This year’s Festival kicks off with a Keynote event with Casey Cep. Cep’s impressive debut, Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee, follows works published in The New Yorker, The New York Times, and The New Republic, among others. Furious Hours chronicles American novelist Harper Lee’s efforts to report on the infamous murder trial of Reverend Willie Maxwell in Alabama and explores shocking true crimes, courtroom drama, and racial politics. This event is free and open to the public; doors open at 6:30 p.m.


Friday, Sept. 6

Cookbook Talk with Belindas Smith-Sullivan
Time: 10:30 a.m.
Location: Dewey's Bakery at Thruway Shopping Center (262 S. Stratford Rd., Winston-Salem, NC)
Free admission

Enjoy a morning cookbook talk and recipe tasting with author Belinda Smith-Sullivan at Dewey's Bakery in Thruway, just minutes from downtown. Smith-Sullivan’s cookbook, Just Peachy, includes 70 peach-infused recipes, with some available for attendees to sample. Listen as Smith-Sullivan shares about the varieties of peaches, their histories, and growing them.

Bookmarks' 15th Birthday Celebration
Time: 6:30 - 9:30 p.m.
Location: The Ramkat (170 W. Ninth St., Winston-Salem, NC)
Cost: $60 per person or $115 for two people 

Celebrate with the host of the festival as Bookmarks turns 15! The festivities are hosted at The Ramkat music venue in the newly developed Industry Hill neighborhood in downtown. Join Bookmarks, featured Festival authors, and a whole host of community volunteers and supporters. Attendees enjoy a toast, a meal, cake by Dewey’s Bakery, bookish games, live music, a signature cocktail, and a few surprises.

Purchase your tickets online here


Saturday, Sept. 7

Children’s Author Pancake Breakfast
Time: 8 a.m.
Location: Foothills Brewpub (638 W 4th Streetm Winston-Salem, NC) 
Tickets: $35 for one adult and one child, additional tickets are $10 each. Service fees may apply. Purchase online here.

Start the day with pancakes and authors! This event is geared towards children ages 8–12 (or at equivalent reading level). Festival middle grade authors will mingle with attendees and talk to them about their books. All children must be accompanied by an adult.

Bookmarks Daylong Street Festival
Time: Begins at 10 a.m.
Location: Downtown Winston-Salem. The Festival footprint stretches from Bookmarks Bookstore (634 W. Fourth Street) to Hanesbrands Theatre (209 North Spruce Street) and takes place along Holly Avenue, Poplar Street, and Spruce Street.

Held in downtown Winston-Salem, the day-long festival features 65 exhibitors and food trucks. Author panels and other author interactions are also held inside the Milton Rhodes Center for the Arts, the Hanesbrands Theatre, Calvary Moravian Church, Bookmarks Bookstore, and Footnote.

Children's Area
This year, the children’s area is in the Foundations Early Learning Center parking lot (300 Poplar St. NW), adjacent to Bookmarks Bookstore. Kids can enjoy an outer space theme with special hands-on activities as well as a mobile planetarium, exhibitors, and an author stage.

Free programming for kids includes the following author panels: “Seeing Ghosts: Middle Grade Ghostly Adventures” with Katherine Arden and Victoria Schwab; “Middle School Stinks” with Ali Benjamin (The Next Great Paulie Fink), Stacy McAnulty (The World Ends in April), and Renée Watson (Some Places More Than Others); “Seeing Stories: Graphic Novel Talk” with Cece Bell and Gale Galligan; and “My Complicated Summer: Finding Family in the Big City” with Renée Watson and Ibi Zoboi. For younger readers, a Curious George Storytime; Elephant & Piggie Storytime; Space Storytime with Stacy McAnulty; Tow Truck Storytime with Anne Marie Pace (creator of the Vampirina series); and Storytime with James Ransome will be offered.

Teen Programming
Free programming for teens (and adults) include the following author panels: “Monsters, Magic, and Warrior Women” with Cinda Williams Chima (Deathcaster), Dhonielle Clayton (The Everlasting Rose), Victoria Schwab (The Monsters of Verity duology), and Megan Shepherd (Midnight Beauties); “Escape from Normal” with Katherine Arden and Becky Chambers; “Do You See Me? The Importance of Inclusive Characters” with Becky Chambers and Amber Smith; and “Urgency of Now: Why the World Needs Diverse Books” with Dhonielle Clayton (Everlasting Rose) and Ebony Elizabeth Thomas (The Dark Fantastic: Race and the Imagination from Harry Potter to the Hunger Games). Amber Smith will also lead a free Young Adult Writing Workshop.

Adult Programming
Additional free programming for adults: To further celebrate Winston-Salem, the state of North Carolina, and the region of the South, panel discussions will also feature: “Traveling North Carolina with Arcadia” with Stephen Compton, Anne Fitten Glenn, Brent Martin, and Steve Miller; “Our Towns” with Deborah and James Fallows; “The Literary Triad” with Joseph Mills, Valeria Nieman, and Jacob Paul; “Exploring the North Carolina Literary Landscape” with Margaret Bauer, Randall Kenan, and Daniel Wallace, moderated by Ed Southern; and “Appalachian Reckoning” with Jeremy Jones, Ricardo Nazario y Colón, and Kirstin Squint, moderated by Meredith McCarroll.

Saturday’s free panel discussions for adults also include: “Gun Violence in America” with Dave Cullen (Parkland) and Andy Parker (For Alison: The Murder of a Young Journalist and a Father’s Fight for Gun Safety); “Real Life Reimagined: Historical Fiction” with Téa Obreht (Inland), Michael Parker (Prairie Fever), and Mary Doria Russell (The Women of Copper Country); “The Truth of Crime” with Billy Jensen (Chase Darkness with Me: How One True-Crime Writer Started Solving Murders); “Bookmarks Signed First Picks” with Angie Cruz, Dave Cullen, and Téa Obreht; “Life’s Messes and What I Learned Along the Way” with Mary Laura Philpott (I Miss You When I Blink) and Sarah McCoy (Marilla of Green Gables); “Mary, Queen of Scots” with Margaret George; “Finding Home” with Angie Cruz and Rajia Hassib; “Bookmarks’ Blind Dates” with Jasmine Guillory and Martha Hall Kelly; and “Fall in Love” with Jen DeLuca, Jasmine Guillory, Abbi Waxman, and Kerry Winfrey.

North Carolina Writers' Network Slush Pile Live!
Time: 12:30 - 1:30 p.m.
Location: Footnote Cafe (
634 W 4th Street, Ste. 120, Winston-Salem, NC 27101)
Free admission

This event gives writers the opportunity to get feedback in real time from editors and agents. This year’s featured editors and agents are Firebrand Press owner Lauren Faulkenberry, Press 53 editor Christopher Forrest, and Hub City Press Programs Director Meg Reid. The event is moderated by NC Writers' Network Executive Director, Ed Southern.

Bookmarks Breezeway Activites (Between Bookmarks store and Fourth Street)

3 - 3:45 p.m.: Meet and mingle with cookbook author and chef Belinda Smith-Sullivan. Nibble on samples from local Dewey’s Bakery

4 - 6 p.m.: Willingham Story Slam 

Book & Author Tea
Time: 4:30 - 5:30 p.m.
Location: Footnote Cafe 
(634 W 4th Street, Ste. 120, Winston-Salem, NC 27101)
Free admission

Join authors Sarah Blake, Martha Hall Kelly, Ann Mah, and Lauren Willig for tea and discussion.

Festival Trivia Night
Time: 7 p.m.
Location: Footnote Cafe 
(634 W 4th Street, Ste. 120, Winston-Salem, NC 27101)
Free admission, registration is required. RSVP here

Join for a special festival edition of Bookmarks Trivia that includes favorite categories from past festivals as well as new questions relating to 2019 Festival authors and books. Come with your team and compete against Festival authors! Teams are limited to six people. 


Sunday, Sept. 8

Festival Author Brunch and Parapalooza
Time: 11 a.m.
Location: Footnote Cafe (634 W 4th Street, Ste. 120, Winston-Salem, NC 27101)
Cost: $35 per person or $250 for a table of 8

Not ready for the 2019 Festival to be over? Join Bookmarks for brunch with mimosas and a chance to meet and hear from more than 15 of the 2019 Festival authors. Arrive early at 10:30 a.m. to purchase signed Festival books and mingle with authors before the Bookmarks Bookstore opens to the public. Over brunch, each author will share from their work in a Parapalooza. This is your chance to hear from even more Festival authors—and find new favorites!


Check out this video to learn more about the power of books and the purpose of Bookmarks Festival of Books and Authors!





About Bookmarks Festival of Books and Authors

Over the last 15 years, Bookmarks has brought more than 550 authors, illustrators, and storytellers to Winston-Salem for the annual Festival of Books and Authors. Collectively, Bookmarks authors have won hundreds of awards from dozens of countries, including more than 100 honorary degrees, multiple Emmy Awards, 10 James Beard Awards, several NAACP Image Awards, 10 Grammy Awards, and multiple PEN, Agatha, Nebula, Hugo, RITA, and Edgar Awards. Bookmarks authors have been translated into 150 languages and have had their work adapted into more than 50 movies, plays and television shows. In addition to the eight Pulitzer Prize winners and the United States Poet Laureate, Bookmarks has presented winners of the National Book Award, National Book Critics Circle Award, American Book Award, National Medal of the Arts, Lincoln Medal, Presidential Medal of Freedom, Coretta Scott King Award, and Newbery Award. Bookmarks authors have written more than 500 New York Times bestsellers and spent at least 1,000 weeks -- over 20 years -- on the New York Times bestseller list.

To learn more about the festival go to bookmarksnc.org.

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