First Speaker Lineup for 2024 Festival, Early Bird Ticket Sale, and Writers' Retreat Launch

The Ubud Writers & Readers Festival (UWRF), returning from 23 to 27 October 2024, is excited to announce its initial speaker lineup along with the launch of early-bird ticket sales and its 2024 Writers Retreat, a three-day writing adventure led by award-winning novelist Laura Jean McKay.

Renowned for its tradition of gathering the region's and international foremost literary figures, this year the festival once again presents a stellar cast of voices that will ignite imaginations, provoke discussions, and celebrate the transformative power of words to underscore this year's Festival theme Satyam Vada Dharmam Chara: Speak the Truth, Practice Kindness.

The first international speaker lineup features the award-winning Indian author and prominent global thinker, Amitav Ghosh; multifaceted Chinese-French-American writer and Women’s Prize for Fiction 2024 nominee, Aube Rey Lescure; Vietnamese-born Australian writer of The Boat, Nam Le; 2022 International Booker Prize nominee, Bora Chung; and Yankunytjatjara Aboriginal poet, artist and author of seven acclaimed books, Ali Cobby Eckermann.

On the Indonesian counterpart, renowned writer and 1998 activist Ayu Utami will grace the festival along with travel writers and journalists, Agustinus Wibowo and Fatris MF; widely-celebrated author of the Netflix-adapted novel ‘Gadis Kretek’, Ratih Kumala; Balinese writer and 2012 S.E.A. Write Award recipient, Oka Rusmini; human rights icon and author Robin Lim, and Seno Gumira Ajidarma, the eminent figure behind the famous credo ‘When journalism is silenced, literature must speak’.

“We're bringing you everything you could ever wish for at a literary festival: emerging and established Indonesian and international writers, each of them a powerhouse of words and ideas for our curious readers and critical minds in a dazzling array of panels and events”, said Festival Founder and Director, Janet DeNeefe. "And these are just the ones we can tell you about; stay tuned for our full program release. It's the most exciting, diverse lineup we've seen so far."

The Festival Program team, including Hannah Curtis, Head of International Programming, and Gustra Adnyana, Indonesian Program Manager, are designing this ultimate literary long weekend. “Our program is sure to be exceptional and thought-provoking, inspiring a deeper connection to ourselves and each other through the power of words,” said Hannah Curtis. Echoing these words, Gustra Adnyana added, “It will illustrate how literature can impact and reflect the diversity and complexity of our multifaceted societies; all deserve to be heard globally.”

Following the tremendous success of 2023, the Festival is also thrilled to launch its 2024 Writers Retreat led by the Australian author, Laura Jean McKay. Scheduled from October 20 to 27 at The Hava Ubud, the award-winning novelist will ignite the attendees’ creative spark and guide them on a once-in-a-lifetime writing journey alongside like-minded new friends. After three days of writing, attendees will dive into four days of festival magic and exclusive gatherings, including an invitation to the Gala Opening and Dinner, cocktails under the stars with writers and publishers, and more.

Commenting on the retreat, Laura Jean McKay said, “I am beyond thrilled to be facilitating the UWRF Writers Retreat this year. I absolutely can't wait to share my love of words and flavours with this year's writers as we work closely together in one of the most beautiful places in the world.” Janet DeNeefe added, “Laura is a gem of a mentor and teacher. With her wealth of experience in teaching and writing, this promises to ignite the attendees' newfound creative spirit and might just be the life-changing catalyst for a new writing career!”


Early bird tickets are on sale now at Discounts for KITAS/KITAP holders, ASEAN country citizens, and students are also available. 

With the full program release on Thursday, 27 August, our regular Festival Passes will go on sale. Festival-goers can choose between our 4-Day Festival Passes and the 1-Day Festival Passes. Special Events and Masterclasses will also be available for purchase simultaneously.

To learn more about the Festival’s writing retreat with award-winning novelist Laura Jean McKay, visit

For inquiries or interview requests with Janet DeNeefe or any of the Program team members, please contact Dewi Setiawan, Media Relations Coordinator, via WhatsApp at +62 822 1098 1998 or email

Our Media Kit includes the press release, along with short biographies and downloadable headshots of the first lineup of speakers for the 2024 Festival, as well as general copy and images.
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