Writers’ Festivals, literary prizes and competitions in 2019

Love all things writing related? Here’s a list to transfer straight into your calendar.
Writers’ Festivals, literary prizes and competitions in 2019

Photo by Annelies Geneyn on Unsplash.

Thinking of entering a writing prize or competition? Keen to share ideas and stories with your favourite author at a Writers’ Festival? Here is a list to get you started that you can transfer straight into your 2019 calendar.

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January/February/March

Furious Fiction
Opens on the first Friday of every month 

Presented by the Australian Writers’ Centre, this is a monthly short story prize with a 500 word limit. Open nationally and internationally this competition is free to enter. A $500 prize is awarded to the winner.

black&Write! Writing Fellowship
Now open and closes 31 January

Presented by State Library of Queensland, the black&write! Fellowships are open to all writers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent currently living in Australia. The Fellowships are open to all genres and entry is free. A 50,000 word-count is required for Adult Fiction/Non-fiction submissions with $10,000 and a publication opportunity up for grabs.

Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards
Winners announced 31 January

The winners of these awards across each category receive $25,000 with the overall prize, the Victorian Prize for Literature, worth an additional $100,000. Submissions are accepted from publishers and writers in September for titles published between 1 January and 31 December of the same year.

Nature Writing Prize
Open now: closes 1 February

Presented by The Nature Conservancy, this short essay prize for works between 3,000 to 5,000 words awards the winner $5,000. The winning entry will also be published as an online multimedia essay by Griffith Review. The theme for this year is “Writing of Place”.

Carmel Bird Digital Literary Award
Now open, closing 3 February

This award is for short fiction works up to 30,000 words. The award winner will receive $3000 and two runners up will receive $1000 with publication for all three entries.

Nakata Brophy Prize for Young Indigenous Writers
Now open, closes 4 February


Presented by Overland Magazine, this short story prize (up to 3,000 words) recognises the talents of young First Nations writers nationally and is open to writers who are 30 years of age or younger. The first prize offers $5000 and a writing residency of up to three months at Trinity College.

Newcastle Short Story Award
Now open, closes 4 February

Presented by Hunter Writers Centre this award is open nationally, and is not bound by a theme. A maximum of 2,000 words is required with the winner receiving $3,000. The top 30 selected works will be published in an anthology.

Snowy Mountains Readers Writers Festival
March


Based in Jindabyne and hosted by venues in the Snowy Mountains region, this festival engages all ages and features events involving authors, poets, artists and illustrators.

Writers Week: Perth Festival
8 February – 3 March

This year’s theme for Writers Week is Our Imagined Selves. Held across venues at The University of Western Australia’s picturesque campus and Perth’s libraries, galleries and writers’ centres, Writers Week promises an array of special events. The full program will be revealed on 10 January.

Adelaide Writers’ Week
1-17 March


As part of Adelaide Festival, this year's Adelaide Writers’ Week is themed around "Telling truths". Featuring six days of free sessions at the Pioneer Women's Memorial Garden, guests announced to date include Brisbane-based playwright turned novelist Future D Fidel, Man Booker Prize-shortlisted Canadian author Esi Edugyan, and Goorie writer Melissa Lucashenko. The full program will be announced on 29 January 2019.

April/May/June

Newcastle Writers Festival
5-7 April 


Set in the harbour city, this writing festival sees more than 100 writers participate every year. With a popular children's program, Newcastle Writers Festival is a festival that caters for the whole family.

Clunes Booktown
4-5 May

The regional Victorian town of Clunes becomes a vast bookshop in this annual event. Along with author talks, panel discussions and literary luncheons, festival-goers can discover the largest collection of rare, out-of-print and collectable books in Australia.

The Australian/Vogel's Literary Award
2019 Award winner announced in April; 2020 Award submissions open end of May

This award is for an unpublished manuscript written by a writer under 35 years of age. The winner will receive $20,000 and the winning work to be published by Allen & Unwin with an advance against royalties.

The Stella Prize
2019 winner announced 9 April; 2020 prize submissions open in August 

Celebrating Australian women’s contribution to literature, books entered into the prize must be first published between 1 January and 31 December of the previous year. The winner will receive $50,000 in prize money.

ABR Elizabeth Jolley Short Story Prize
Open now, closes 19 April

Recognising an outstanding original short story between 2,000 to 5,000 words, this prize awards the winner $12,500 and is presented by Australian Book Review.

NSW Premier’s Literary Awards
2019 winners to be announced 29 April

Celebrating Australian writing and with a prize pool of $305,000, there are 14 categories open for submission. All works must have been first published, performed, screened or broadcast and made publicly available between 1 October of the previous year and 30 September of that year.  

Sydney Writers Festival
29 April – 3 May

This week-long conversation about books and ideas presents more than 300 events. Previous Sydney Writers Festival international guests include Jennifer Egan, Min Jin Lee, Masha Gessen, Eileen Myles, George Saunders, Susan Faludi and many more.

Questions Writing Prize
Now open, closes 1 May

Part of the Future Leaders initiative, this writing prize is for young writers between the ages of 18-30. Fiction or non-fiction submissions between 1,500 to 2,000 words are sought with a $2,000 prize for the winner.

University of Canberra Vice-Chancellor’s International Poetry Prize
Now open, closes 30 June

Offered by the University and administered by the International Poetry Studies Institute (IPSI), this prize is awarded to a single poem of up to 50 lines. The winner receives $15,000 with the runner up receiving $5,000.

The Fair Australia Prize
Reopens mid-2019


Described by Overland: 'This prize encourages artists and writers of fiction, poetry and essays to be part of setting a new agenda for our future – to imagine a just, common future, and how we might get there together.' With a total prize pool of $18,000 this prize is awarded to fiction, essay, poetry, graphic and other categories.

Emerging Writers Festival
19-29 June


The festival for writers, not readers, the EWF features 11 days of professional development and stimulating conversation.

July/August/September

VU Short Story Prize for New Writers 
Reopens mid-2019

Presented by Overland, this annual competition celebrates excellent and original short fiction up to 3000 words in length by new and emerging writers. The winner will receive $6000 with the two runner-up receiving $1000. 

Mildura Writers Festival
18-21 July

A winter program that brings together writers and thinkers, Mildura Writers Festival has hosted Nobel Laureates such as JM Coetzee, renowned authors such as David Malouf and Les Murray, and international stars such as Clive James. A Writers Residence is also offered by the festival over the months of June and July.

Miles Franklin Literary Award
2019 winner will be announced July, 2020 submissions open November

The substantial $60,000 prize is awarded to ‘to a novel of the highest literary merit that presents Australian life in any of its phases.’ Publishers are required to submit novels on behalf of an author.

Byron Bay Writers Festival
2-4 August

Located in the beautiful coastal landscape of Byron Bay, this festival consists of three days of storytelling, conversations and ideas. An ideal mid-winter escape for writers and readers in the southern states.

Melbourne Writers Festival
30 August – 8 September

‘A bookish arts party that will bring the City of Literature to life,’ Melbourne Writers Festival is pushing the boundaries thanks to new Artistic Director Marieke Hardy.

Salisbury Writers Festival
24-26 August

Hosted by the City of Salisbury and Writers SA, this writers' festival supports and showcases local writers. A family-friendly festival, it also offers a short story competition for children.

Brisbane Writers Festival
5-8 September

Connecting people through stories, this writers' festival will be celebrating its 58 year milestone this September. Held at State Library of Queensland and QAGOMA, Brisbane Writers Festival has been host to writers such as Anosh Irani, Min Jin Lee, Veronica Roth, Alexis Wright, Dame Quentin Bryce and many more.

Queensland Poetry Festival
Late August

In 2019, Australia’s foremost festival for the poetic arts will explore what it really means to listen: to take heed, pay attention, tune in, listen up.

October/November/December

National Young Writersʼ Festival
Dates TBC

The National Young Writers’ Festival (NYWF) occurs annually in the city of Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia, over the New South Wales’ Labour Day Holiday Weekend. The festival presents ‘writing’ in its broadest sense through panels, discussions, workshops, launches, performances, readings, installations, and more.

Neilma Sidney Short Story Prize
Reopens in 2019

This short story prize (of up to 3000 word) is presented by Overland and supported by the Malcolm Robertson Foundation. The theme for this prize is around the notion of ‘travel’ and the winner receives $4,000 with their story published in Overland.

The Overland Judith Wright Poetry Prize 
Re-opens in 2019


For New and Emerging Poets, this prize is supported by the Malcolm Robertson Foundation and  seeks outstanding poetry by writers who have published no more than one collection of poems under their own name. The major prize is $6,000 with a second prize of $2,000 and third prize of $1,000.

Queensland Literary Awards
2019 winners announced late October (date yet to be confirmed)

Presented by State Library of Queensland, these awards celebrate outstanding Australian books and authors. The top prize is the Queensland Premier's Award for a work of State Significance, which awards the winner $25,000.

Ubud Writers & Readers Festival
23-27 October

A cultural exchange of writing and thinking, this writers' festival is held in Indonesia’s beautiful Ubud region. Described as ‘an annual pilgrimage for lovers of literature and conversation,’ Ubud Writers & Readers festival is a major annual project of the not-for-profit foundation, the Yayasan Mudra Swari Saraswati. ArtHub contributor Kath Melbourne visited the festival in 2018: read her impressions of the event here.

Lane Cove Literary Awards
Winners announced early November (date yet to be confirmed)

Presented by Lane Cove Council, these awards are open nationally for writers over the age of 16 and offer prize categories such as: Short Story Prize $2,000; Theatre Script Prize $1,500; Poetry Prize $1,500; The Burns Bay Bookery Youth Prize (16-24 years) $500 and more.

Walkley Awards
Winners announced late November (date yet to be confirmed)

The most prestigious awards given to Australian journalists, and awarded across more than 30 categories. Presented by the Walkley Foundation, the Awards celebrate their 64th anniversary this year.

Wollongong Writers Festival
Held at the end of November over three days (date yet to be confirmed)

This writers’ festival offers a $1,000 Short Story Prize for a previously unpublished short story based on a given theme. The winning story will be published by Mascara Literary Review.

Prime Minister's Literary Award
Dates for this year’s winner’s announcement and the 2020 open for submissions date are yet to be confirmed. 

The Prime Minister’s Literary Awards celebrates Australian Literary talent and the ‘valuable contribution Australian literature and history makes to the nation's cultural and intellectual life.’ Awarding six categories with $80,000 given to each category winner.

Brimbank Writers & Readers Festival
Held over ten days in early November (date yet to be confirmed)

Delivered by Brimbank Libraries this community festival is full of programs, author talks, exhibitions and more.

JLF (Jaipur Literary Festival)
Held in early November (date yet to be confirmed)

In collaboration with OzAsia Festival, this writers festival is presented by Teamwork Arts, producers of the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival. Housed at the Adelaide Festival Centre and now in its tenth iteration this festival celebrates the stories and heritage of South Asia.

Word for Word Geelong Writers Festival
Held mid-November (date yet to be confirmed)

Australia’s only non-fiction literary festival, Word for Word celebrates memoir, biography, journalism, essays, song-writing, travel and poetry by great thinkers and writers.

About the author

Andrea Simpson is ArtsHub's Feature Writer and Reviews Editor. Andrea is a Filipino-Australian writer with a love for diverse Australian stories. She is curious about all forms of art, though she has an especially keen interest in the publishing sector.

Andrea has had short stories published in various anthologies, and is currently working on her first novel.  

You can follow Andrea on Instagram @andi_jayyy