Authors on stage at last year's Imaginairium festival
Don’t miss Calgary’s liveliest celebration of authors and ideas | Photo: David Kotsibie

The Imaginairium

Calgary is a readers delight when Wordfest’s annual festival rolls around

Amy Jo Espetveidt

  • Location Various Venues 
  • Price Prices Vary
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Calling all book nerds, literary lovers, and fans of all things wordy. Here’s your chance to dive into Calgary’s liveliest celebration of authors and ideas. The Imaginairium by Wordfest is sure to be a breath of fresh air.

Dubbed a feast for sore minds, this year’s docket includes traditional readings and interview-style presentations along with storytelling events, book-themed trivia nights, workshops, showcases, and so much more. Featuring 71 authors and 52 events over 10 days, there are even youth events geared towards young readers and schools.

The whole festival explores ideas Calgarians need now more than ever—you are bound to find at least one event that piques your fancy. Us? We picked our not-to-be-missed events. Read on and get your tickets while you still can!

Free Family Fun Day

October 14, 2019, 10:00am – 1:00pm
Memorial Park Library (1221 2nd St. SW)
Free admission, registration required

Marking its third annual free family fun day, this Thanksgiving is all about dragons. Swing by to check out a dragon egg hunt for the kids, an enormous dragon egg for selfie-taking, face-painting, and a performance by Alex A., the creator of Super Agent Jon Le Bon and Mini-Jon’s Experiments. Game of Thrones cosplay is encouraged.

Indigenous Voices Showcase

October 16, 2019, 7:00 – 8:30pm
Patricia A. Whelan Performance Hall, Central Library (800 3rd St. SE)
$30 – $35

Hosted by Shelagh Rogers, watch as the multi-genre standard bearers of contemporary Indigenous writing come together to share their current work and engage in a wide-ranging conversation.

Literary Death Match

October 16, 2019, 9:00 – 11:00pm
Patricia A. Whelan Performance Hall, Central Library (800 3rd St. SE)
$25 – $30

Always a festival favourite, this year’s Literary Death Match brings together an eclectic mix of authors. Watch as four brave authors perform their most electrifying seven-minute sets in front of an all-star judging panel. And, to add to the excitement, this year’s judges—Alice Kuipers, Anakana Schofield, and Joshua Whitehead—are all past champions.

Word Feast: Shane Chartrand with Jennifer Cockrall-King

October 17, 2019, 11:30am – 2:00pm
Charbar, Simmons Building (618 Confluence Way SE)
$60 – $65

A special lunch showcase with Canada’s top Indigenous chef Shane Chartrand and his new cookbook, tawâw: Progressive Indigenous Cuisine, you won’t want to miss this gorgeous collaboration with noted British Colombia food writer Jennifer Cockrall-King. The afternoon is hosted by Julie Van Rosendaal and includes a unique three-course meal.

Dick Lit’s Trivia: Emily Nussbaum

October 18, 2019, 8:00 – 11:00pm
Engagement Lab, Memorial Park Library (2nd Floor, 1221 2nd St. SW)
$20 – $25

Returning for its spectacular festival edition, here’s your chance to prove you’re the smartest person in The Imaginarium. Wordfest has lured Pulitzer Prize-winner Emily Nussbaum all the way from The New Yorker to act as the inspiration for the night’s 30 questions. Trust us—you need to check this one out!

Speak Up: Billy-Ray Belcourt & Ivan Coyote

October 20, 2019, 3:00 – 4:30pm
Patricia A. Whelan Performance Hall, Central Library (800 3rd St. SE)
$20 – $25

Hosted by the only and only Pam Rocker, see performances by two of Canada’s most original provocateurs—Billy-Ray Belcourt and Ivan Coyote. You’ll just have to come and see this one for yourself.

Stephen Chbosky & Adrian McKinty

October 22, 2019, 7:00 – 8:30pm
Patricia A. Whelan Performance Hall, Central Library (800 3rd St. SE)
$20 – $25

Hosted by Philip Vernon, two masters of the dark meet up for an unforgettable evening at Central Library. Stephen Chbosky and Adrian McKinty’s new books both feature mothers and children, good and evil, and just how far a parent will go in the name of family.

The Imaginairium by Wordfest runs October 14 to 23, 2019. Both individual tickets and festival passes are still available, and you can find the full schedule at