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Welcome to New York City’s (Free!) Brooklyn Book Festival.
The Brooklyn Book Festival is one of the best literary festivals in the world. This bookish event takes place every September in Brooklyn. While the festival lasts an entire week, with a variety of speakers to suit every literary taste under the sun, the best day is (without a doubt) Festival Day.
What’s Festival Day? Well. Let’s say this happens when 300 authors take to the stage to speak to other book lovers. And vendors positively take over the Brooklyn Borough Hall area. As for me, I only attended the main Festival Day – which will be the main subject of this blog post.
I Loved The Brooklyn Book Festival!
The best part about this huge book fair? The Brooklyn Book Festival is free for everyone to attend! Yup. 100% free. You don’t need to purchase a ticket or even register. Just show up whenever your heart desires.
Ultimately you have zero reason to worry about money … unless you want to spend a lot of cash on books. I’ll talk more about compulsively buying new books later in this post, hahaha. The Brooklyn Book Festival is popular and you must go, but again, you don’t need reservations or tickets either. Show up at any time.
As for me, I’ve been wanting to attend this super cool book fair for years. Years. And this September? I finally had the chance to go enjoy it! I had a wonderful time. I mean, look at my smile. Ain’t no faking such happiness.
Attending the Brooklyn Book Festival did a world of good for my daily life. Why? Well, honestly, events (such as this one) motivates readers to pick up the nearest book and devour it. I realized I didn’t read nearly enough books after attending the Brooklyn Book Festival. Yikes.
However, I’m hoping my lackluster reading habits will change in the coming months As a kid, I used to read a book a day, and while I may never reach those epic speeds again, I want to rekindle my passion for cool books and read on a regular basis.
Not to mention, the fellow English teachers at my school are encouraging staff to read at least 24 books this year, and I’m hoping to join their ranks!
Are you thinking about attending the Brooklyn Book Festival yourself? You should be! Below are all my tips to ensure you have an amazing day. Have a great time!
Arrive Early to the Brooklyn Book Festival.
The Brooklyn Book Festival’s main day begins promptly at 10 am. Now I know it’s Sunday. I know you want to sleep in and eat waffles and drink coffee. However, come to the Brooklyn Book Festival early and have an even better experience.
I mean, think about it.
Many people like to read. The Brooklyn Book Festival gets crowded later in the afternoon. I’m not kidding. Weaving through throngs of people makes it more difficult to get close to the vendors and enjoy browsing the titles of the books on display. So please save yourself the aggravation and come early.
Now how about weekend trains? Will coming from Manhattan be a challenge for commuters? Not, really. Luckily Borough Hall Station is very well-connected to the rest of New York City’s subway system. Weekend trains are unpredictable, but you won’t have many problems with this busy hub, yay.
Bring Totes for Your Many New Books.
Don’t come to Brooklyn Book Festival assuming you won’t spend money. You will. Don’t deny it. A lot of vendors have books at discounted prices that are super hard to resist.
No one wants to carry books around in their arms. This is an especially problematic situation if you want to sightsee afterwards. You want to be prepared to have a great time and purchase any books that catch your eye.
My advice is for you to bring a couple of sturdy totes to carry your books. Some vendors have these bags for free, but others charge for them. Like $12 or more. You don’t want to spend money on book bags, haha. Save that luxury for the books themselves. Bring totes.
In addition, I brought my backpack with me to store extra books. Yeah. I’m crazy.
Take Your Time at One of the World’s Best Book Fairs.
Don’t rush through this super cool literary event. Try to check out every table and check out some books you normally wouldn’t pick up at your local library or on Amazon. I personally couldn’t believe how many independent presses attended this fair and had fun learning all about them. This wouldn’t have been possible if I decided to blow through the stands in thirty minutes or something.
As you know, the Brooklyn Book Festival only comes once a year. Once. It’s like Christmas! Why hurry through your experience?
I spent over two hours at the fair. Yup. Over two hours. It was worth the time. I saw each and every stall and as a result, I had the chance to talk to MFAs representing my alma mater and have new authors recommended to me by a variety of publishing companies.
Be Wary of New York’s September Weather.
New York’s weather in September is unpredictable. Sometimes you’re lucky and have a crisp cool autumn day, which makes walking outside a piece of cake. And in that case? Great.
Why am I bringing up the weather at all?
Well … the festival takes place outdoors in the park at Borough Hall in Brooklyn. Which is lovely on a nice day, but if you get a scorcher, which might happen in September, then take the necessary steps to keep yourself healthy in the heat. Apply sunblock. Chill out under trees whenever you need a break. Hydrate yourself and drink lots of water. Wear appropriate clothes like shorts and light dresses.
I might sound like I’m exaggerating, but many visitors assume the end of September brings cooler weather and pack sweaters, jeans, and other heavy items. Erm. That comfortable September weather? Not always the case on the humid east coast. Just be prepared. I was ready for sunburn myself.
More Tips for Solo Travel in New York
Research Brooklyn Book Festival’s Lectures.
One of the biggest perks on Festival Day are the many free lectures given by excellent authors. I wish I would’ve planned ahead of time regarding these interactive talks. I would’ve monopolized my time better, but there’s always next year.
What I especially love is the Brooklyn Book Festival gives new authors opportunities to shine and sell their products. For example, the Who? New! talk on the main stage at Borough Hall Plaza covered debut books that I’ve never heard of and will now give a chance in the future.
Go to the Brooklyn Book Festival’s main website for their schedule and plan according to your interests.
Talk to the Vendors at the Brooklyn Book Festival.
The vendors at the Brooklyn Book Festival are crazy passionate about good books. Great for you, huh?
I’m normally a little shy around strangers. I still forced myself to speak to other people, though, and the results were awesome.
For instance, one the stalls had a display that was covered in “post it” notes. Visitors had the chance to write their own 10 word short stories on these sticky tabs. I participated in this activity and had a few laughs with the women running the stall. And sorry, I won’t share my story here. Anyway, those few minutes reminded me just how much I loved creative writing in both high school and college.
Furthermore, some of the vendors are authors themselves who are here to promote their new books! Congratulate them. Traditional route publication is a very difficult and stressful task, and we should acknowledge these debut authors for creating a manuscript strong enough to be accepted by an editor.
Don’t be shy to talk to the vendors, fellow book lovers.
Where to Stay for The Brooklyn Book Festival
I’m only across the Hudson in New Jersey, but I realize this isn’t the case for everyone reading this blog. A lot of my readers come from other states, even other countries.
So are you coming from out of town? Then you ought to look into booking a hotel, apartment, or other accommodation to fully enjoy the festival without rushing home. Keep flight times in mind too. JFK and Newark Liberty aren’t exactly close to Brooklyn, sorry to say.
If attending the festival is your main objective, then I personally recommend staying in Brooklyn itself rather than farther away. Manhattan is great, of course, but you literary lovers want to be close to Borough Hall where all the action takes place. And Brooklyn is a great area. I need to explore it more myself.
Keep in mind Brooklyn is big. You don’t want to stay far away. So I have two suggestions for neighborhoods located in Brooklyn and a reasonable distance from the festival.
These neighborhoods include:
1. Brooklyn Heights
The festival itself actually takes place in Brooklyn Heights. So you can’t get much closer! There are lots of wonderful brownstone buildings that make this neighborhood a scenic and enjoy place for all visitors.
Probably the most popular neighborhood for tourists. You’re right near the Williamsburg Bridge, and can easily catch a ferry into downtown Manhattan if you want to visit after your fun at the book festival.
You’ll have a great time at the Brooklyn Book Festival regardless of what you decide concerning accommodation. I honestly feel more inspired than ever to read some outstanding novels, memoirs, history books, graphic novels, etc. throughout the year. It’s time to ignite my passion for books again!
What are some of your favorite literary events? Have you ever been to a book festival? Would you ever go to one? Share your thoughts in the comments. For more information, check out the Brooklyn Book Festival’s official site and add the date to your calendar!