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December 10, 2023

Where Every Family Matters

Southern Festival of Books Begins This Saturday

Highlights from the 35th annual event that bring together art, music and family-friendly fun.

The free, family-friendly Southern Festival of Books: A Celebration of the Written Word takes place at Bicentennial Mall, the Tennessee State Museum and Tennessee State Library & Archives this weekend, Oct. 21 – 22, 2023. Here’s what you need to know.

2023 Southern Festival of Books highlights: 

  • New Location! The festival is moving this year to the north end of Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park, with author sessions taking place in both the Tennessee State Library & Archives and Tennessee State Museum. 
  • Cumberland Tent: Come meet your favorite authors in the new Cumberland Tent! The 60-by-80-foot tent will host some of the festival’s best-selling and award-winning authors, including Carl Hiaasen, Ann Patchett, Tracy Kidder, Margaret Renkl, Mark Greaney, J.A. Jance and Ruta Sepetys. 
  • Expanded Yazoo Beer Garden: The Beer Garden, sponsored by Yazoo Brewing Company, is better than ever. Plus, there will be a special wine tasting on Sunday, Oct. 22 at 2 p.m. with authors and sommeliers Jane Lopes and Jonathan Ross for their new book, How to Drink Australian.
  • Big Fiery Gizzard and Little Pigeon’s Creativity Land: Kids of all ages can experience nonstop fun and activities in Big Fiery Gizzard and Little Pigeon’s Creativity Land. Activities include puppet shows from Nashville Public Library, the Poetry Piñata Smash, appearances by Brother Bear and Sister Bear Berenstain, the World’s Fastest Growing Library and oversized book art from artist Paul Collins. 
  • Food Trucks: A selection of Nashville’s best food trucks and vendors will be on-site all weekend to help festival-goers refuel between sessions, including Elliston Place Soda Shop, Cousins Maine Lobster, New Berlin Eats, Bean Loft Coffee, Lemon Spot and more. 
  • Live Performances: In addition to sessions from more than 175 authors, the Southern Festival of Books will have live performances all weekend long at two stages. From spoken word to belly dancing to Shakespeare performances to live music, there’s no shortage of entertainment to enjoy. 

2023 Southern Festival of Books Times & Lineup

The Southern Festival of Books will be open to the public 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, October 21, and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday, October 22, for panel sessions, discussions, and readings from a wide variety of genres including fiction and nonfiction, young adult literature, poetry, science fiction, and mystery.  Featured festival books will be available for purchase and can be signed by authors throughout the weekend. Parnassus Books is the festival bookseller.

The festival weekend will feature appearances from more than 175 authors, including Carl Hiaasen, Terrance Hayes, John Scalzi, Jefferson Cowie, Timothy Egan, Tracy Kidder, Chrissy Metz, Drew Gilpin Faust, Ben Fountain, Mark Greaney, Gary Gulman, Megan Miranda, Ann Patchett, Mararet Renkl, Etaf Rum and Lee Smith, among others. 

For a full lineup of festival authors, visit 

2023 Southern Festival of Books Map



About the Author

Michael Aldrich

Michael Aldrich is Nashville Parent's Managing Editor and a Middle Tennessee arts writer. He and his wife, Alison, are the proud parents of 4-year-old Ezra and baby Norah.