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Are You Ready for the Calabash International Literary Festival 2023?

by Carolyn Lee May 19, 2023

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Are You Ready for the Calabash International Literary Festival 2023?

The Calabash International Literary Festival is back on 26-28 May 2023. The festival began in 2001 with Colin Channer (novelist), Kwame Dawes (poet), and Justine Henzell (producer) to create a world-class literary festival in Jamaica that also attracts an international audience.

This year’s event title is “For Word”, and patrons at the Caribbean’s largest literary festival can expect to celebrate Jamaica and literary works with interviews, readings, and open-mic sessions that start each morning and conclude around sunset.

What should you know about the festival?

Some diverse talents booked for the event include Olive Senior, Sadie Jones, Billy Collins, Joyce Carol Oates, Sally Henzell, Ingrid Persaud, Natalie Diaz, Margaret Busby, and Eleanor Catton. Kwame Dawes, Jeremy Poynting, and Paul Holdengraber, who typically interviews headliners, are expected to attend the festival.

Photo credit: Calabash International Literary Festival (FB).

What can you expect during Calabash International Literary Festival 2023?

The festival is at Treasure Beach in St Elizabeth. All the events are free, but you can make donations via their website. The schedule includes Reasoning, the Calabash Café series, Familial Fictions, Caribbean Complexities, Culture Carriers, and Something Torn and New. There will also be a tribute to Michael Thelwell’s novel, The Harder They Come, which marks 50 years after the film’s release.

There will be live entertainment at Midnight Ravers on Friday, featuring performances by Imeru Tafari, Tanya Stephens, and Ras-I. Cala-Clash is on Saturday with Afrobeats & Reggaeton a Yard, DJ Anush and DJ Chromatic appearances. The Calabash Acoustic Ensemble will provide entertainment on Sunday.

Visitors can expect 30 authors and a Reasoning session with Padma Lakshmi (India/USA) in conversation with Kei Miller. Padma is an award-winning New York Times bestselling author and Emmy-nominated host of Top Chef and Taste the Nation.


With so many events, we know you will enjoy your time at Calabash this year. Please visit their website, Instagram (@calabashfestival), Twitter (@calabshfestival) or Facebook (Calabash International Literary Festival) pages to stay abreast of festival updates. If you need somewhere to stay while attending the festival, you can use our FindYello listings to search for hotels, resorts, or villas in or near St Elizabeth.

Sources: Calabash Festival, Visit Jamaica, and Jamaica Gleaner.