Festival profile


What makes us unique


The programme of Zurich Literature Festival focuses on premieres and readings with acclaimed international authors.

The main stage is set in the middle of lush nature in the magnificent Old Botanical Garden.

World stars of the literary scene

Zurich Literature Festival is one of the most important literature festivals in the German-speaking countries.

The programme is characterised by big names: from US-American star feminists Rebecca Solnit and Roxane Gay to Pulitzer Prize winner Junot Diaz, from Monty Python legend John Cleese to Booker Prize winners Julian Barnes and John Banville. Even Nobel Laureater John M. Coetzee, despite the long journey from Australia, honoured the festival with an exclusive performance.   

 

Stunning natural scenery 

Zurich Literature Festival is considered "the most beautiful literature festival in Switzerland" (Tages-Anzeiger).

Its legendary open-air stage is located amidst the exuberant, almost untamable nature of the Old Botanical Garden. There is hardly a more magical place to experience literature - both the audience and our artists agree on this. 

Booming basses, beer in plastic cups, muddy rubber boots and everything else you might associate with an open air experience, you will search in vain here. Instead, we you'll share some unforgettable moments with some of the biggest stars of the literary scene.

 


Our objectives and approach


Exclusive programme

Class instead of mass - our programme is based on this principle. The focus is on premieres, readings and discussions with acclaimed international authors.  Many of them come to Zurich exclusively for one performance, often presenting a new text or stage project.

 

Since the early days of the festival, not only the big names have shaped the programme, but also literary discoveries and innovative formats (e.g. "Words on Stage"). Our interdisciplinary approach always leads to unique experiences and surprises. The readings in the main programme are often presented in conjunction with thematically related projects from other genres, e.g. poetic installations, interactive audio plays, stage readings, silent film scores, singer/songwriter concerts or interdisciplinary projects at the intersection of text, dance and theatre. 

For readers and non-readers

With its various formats and forms of presentation, the festival creates the opportunity for stimulating discussions on literature and up close encounters with internationally renowned authors. Our aim is not only to delight experienced readers and book lovers, but also to inspire people who rarely pick up a book. 

Sophisticated entertainment

In terms of content, the festival impresses with a carefully curated programme that takes up and develops current topics, stimulates debate and makes people think - and at the same time offers entertainment of the highest quality.  

 

Poetic overall experience

On balmy summer nights the events in the Old Botanical Garden are an unforgettable experience - a poetic overall experience that involves all the senses. The careful scenographic design of the stage and festival area contributes to this.

 


High reputation

The festival enjoys an excellent reputation far beyond the country's borders. Many of our top-class guests perform only rarely and in summer certainly not at all - but for us they make an exception. Accordingly, the festival attracts literature enthusiasts from all over Switzerland and abroad. The authors who perform are also enchanted by the special atmosphere and make themselves unusually approachable. Even Hollywood star John Cleese, despite his rumbling stomach, insisted on signing his books for over an hour after the reading.

 

Nice also in bad weather 

In addition to the open-air stage in the Old Botanical Gardens, the Zurich Literature Festival has the two of the most beautiful halls in Zurich at its disposal:

The "Klubsaal", built in 1915, was already used by the Dadaists and has since established itself as a first-class venue for concerts and cultural events. The more intimate "Festsaal" still exudes the charm of its time of construction (1920s) and offers an equally attractive backdrop for literary events. 

 

Against the summer slump blues

The Zurich Literature Festival has established itself as a permanent fixture in the cultural landscape of the city of Zurich and sets the literary highlight each summer. In this way it has a lasting effect against the first signs of summer slump blues ... 


 

Locally rooted & well connected

The Zurich Literature Festival is jointly curated and presented by the two most important institutions for literary events in Zurich - the Literaturhaus and the Kaufleuten. In everyday life the two houses sometimes compete for the favour of the literary public in Zurich - at the festival they work closely and  enthusiastically together.
In addition, the festival often enters into project-related cooperations with cultural institutions and representatives of the independent scene.