Best LitCrawl Ever

Our press release… in which we crunched numbers and assessed the vibe and concluded that 2018 was pretty amazing, actually the best. Thanks so much to ALL of the writers, to Chris Tse, to Starling and the micro-residents, to Susan Paris and Kate De Goldi of ANNUAL (KidsCrawl rocked!), to the wonderful venues, to our ace team of volunteers who rock our world, to Creative New Zealand, Wellington City Council, Wellington Community Trust, Ministry for Women’s Suffrage 125 Community Fund, Vic Books, Culture Ireland, Embassy of the United States of American, Bowen Galleries, Australian High Commission, Victoria University Press, Pub Charity … simply could not do it without you!


The fifth annual LitCrawl Wellington festival ran from Thursday 8 - Sunday 11 November 2018 and was the best yet, say directors Claire Mabey and Andrew Laking.

‘The combination of perfect weather, a meatier offering in terms of the extent of the programme, and a hungry audience added up to a very successful festival’, Claire Mabey said.

‘Looking at the numbers - things are hugely up in terms of attendance, book sales, media impressions, and a palpable atmosphere of energy and hunger at every event’.

This year’s festival comprised of the famous Saturday night Crawl and the newer Extended series of 30 plus events (a mix of free and ticketed). For 2018 the Extended series was more than double the size of the the 2017 offering. ‘It’s our fifth birthday so 2018 felt like the time to push the boundaries and give audiences a broader range of options to complement the Saturday night crawl’, Andrew Laking said. RNZ’s Kim Hill conversation with the Iranian-US superstar of poetry Kaveh Akbar on the opening evening of the festival was a highlight: ‘it was such an exceptional conversation between two masters of their respective crafts’ said an audience member. Friday night’s Poetry Showcase was an extraordinary lineup of talent from Aotearoa and overseas with Akbar commending the fact that audiences were able to hear/see six different languages in just over one hour. The line up featured Aotearoa’s Tayi Tibble, Dominic Hoey and 2018 NZ Slam Champion Jordan Hamel. The international guests included Irish poet Doireann Ní Ghríofa and UK poet Raymond Antrobus. Mabey and Laking were delighted that 50 per cent of the Extended programmes events were sold out or at capacity and attendance overall was at 82 percent ‘...that shows that there really is a demand and hunger for more extensive programme to surround the party event which is the short, sharp Crawl itself - we are thrilled and encouraged by that’.

The Saturday night Crawl took place among perfect weather conditions for scurrying through Wellington’s CBD as the 25-session-strong evening saw a significant rise in audience attendance. ‘The Crawl has always been popular and created a fairly major sense of FOMO with venues getting completely full but this year was another step up - it was electric!’ said Mabey. ‘It was also brilliant to know that people from Auckland, Christchurch, Nelson, New Plymouth, Palmerston North, Taranaki, Bay of Plenty, Hamilton and the Wairarapa joined us for the weekend. The Crawl brings people together in a positive way to celebrate writers and enjoy Wellington’s exceptional indie spaces as lit venues.’

LitCrawl 2018 Guest Curator Chris Tse said “The heady rush of seeing venues packed out for my curated events was amplified by the enthusiastic responses to the incredible writers and performers who so graciously agreed to come along for the ride with me. LitCrawl 2018 is without a doubt a new career highlight for me, and I can't thank everyone enough for coming out to support us."

Mabey and Laking are now planning the 2019 event which will again feature a guest curator, schools programme and the micro-residency initiative. Announcements will be made in early 2019. Festival dates will be 7 - 10 November 2019.