ILFU is a new and innovative international literature festival in Utrecht, the Netherlands, that transformed various well-known literature events that had already existed for decades, into one big celebration of literature. The first edition took place from 15 – 29 September 2018 at various locations throughout the city, to great success. The festival received 200 authors, translators and artists and more than 21,000 visitors, thereby at once becoming the biggest literary event of the low countries. It presented both headliners such as Julian Barnes, Salman Rushdie, Becky Albertalli and John Irving, and emerging writers in a variety of genres from novels and children books to poetry and nonfiction. It ended with the largest poetry event of the year, the 36th Night of the Poetry.
By covering many genres, it is a festival for everyone who identifies themselves as a ‘reader’, regardless of someone’s genre of preference. However, people do not always describe themselves as readers, but yet do enjoy films or Netflix series based on books, listen to the lyrics of musicians such as Nobel Prize winner Bob Dylan or visit operas and plays that without literature would not have existed. To reset the boundaries of literature ILFU teams up with organisations such as the Dutch Film Festival, music festival Le Guess Who?, TivoliVredenburg Concert Hall and the Municipal Theatre.
Because of its broad focus, the festival also covers and supports the entire Dutch publishing industry: a book market at Utrecht’s central square offers hundreds of publishers and booksellers an opportunity to present themselves and connect to audiences. In the two weeks that follow, the ILFU Festival aims to give literature the pivotal place in society and public space it deserves: right in the center of the city of Utrecht, a UNESCO City of Literature, that in turn is situated right in the heart of the Netherlands.