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Here’s A Guide To Saturday's Double Dose Of Dallas Festivals — Of Books And Ideas

The Dallas Festival of Ideas and Dallas Book Festival run from 9:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 29, 2017.

Two annual festivals in Dallas are joining forces for the first time this Saturday, providing a wealth of diverse programming focused on literacy, creativity and community across the city.  

The partnership between The Dallas Festival of Ideas and The Dallas Book Festival means the two fests will come together for morning and closing keynote sessions. Throughout the day, speakers and events hosted by the two festivals will take across the street at two main downtown venues: the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library and Kay Bailey Hutchinson Convention Center, Section A. The day's events run from 9:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

A stormy weather forecast prompted the Festival of Ideas to move from the plaza in front of City Hall to inside the convention center. The festival has a wild weather history -- its first year, 2015, was interrupted by storms, too.

There will also be tons of family-friendly events throughout the day, and it all ends with a community picnic and concert with a performance by The Polyphonic Spree. By the way, everything's free and open to the public. But registration is required for the Festival of Ideas. Interested? Check this quick guide for everything you need to know.


What it's all about

Dallas Festival of Ideas

In its third year, the Festival of Ideas brings together people in the community to discuss lasting ways to make Dallas better for everyone. Afterward, citizen groups take the ideas generated at each festival and propose ways to bring them to life. Emily Hargrove, chairwoman of the Festival of Ideas steering committee, told The Dallas Morning News: “We didn't want this to be a talking heads festival.”

The festival will be organized by five forums that were established through programs in the months leading up to Saturday’s event: The Physical City, The Healthy City, The Educated City, The Cultural City and The Entrepreneurial City. Learn more about the forums.


The Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture and The Dallas Morning News are presenting the festival. It's produced by CrowdSource and made possible by title sponsors AT&T and Bank of America.


Dallas Book Festival


Founded in 2006, the annual event promotes reading, literacy, and writing with the help of more than 100 local, regional and national authors. Activities include writing workshops, story times and activities for children, and music and dance performances.

Who's going to be there

The two festivals will share several keynote speakers. During the morning keynote from 11 a.m. to 12:45 p.m., attendees will hear from:

  • The Cultural City: Jeff Chang, award-winning author who’s written extensively on culture, politics, the arts and music
  • The Educated City: Nadia Lopez, founder and principal of Mott Hall Bridges Academy in Brownsville, Brooklyn and a finalist for the 2016 Global Teachers Prize
  • The Entrepreneurial City: Douglas Rushkoff, writer, documentarian and lecturer whose work focuses on human autonomy in a digital age
  • The Healthy City: Andrew Solomon, writer whose books and essays explore the subjects of politics, culture and psychology. He received the National Book Award for “The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression”.
  • The Physical City: Janette Sadik-Khan, an authority on transportation and urban transformation

The two festivals will also share a closing conversation with author Yaa Gyasi, whose “Homegoing” won the National Book Critics Circle's award for best debut novel earlier this year. The book festival has its own star-studded lineup of nationally celebrated authors and speakers, including:

  • Greg Iles, author of the “Natchez Burning” trilogy and the forthcoming “Mississippi Blood.” He'll talk with Stanley Nelson, editor of the Concordia Sentinel, whose investigations of the Ku Klux Klan and unsolved racially motivated killings in the region.
  • Graphic novelist Kristen Radtke, creator of  “Imagine Wanting Only This”
  • Eric Litwin, musician and author who launched the "Pete the Cat" children's books.
  • Jeff Guinn, author of forthcoming “The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and Peoples Temple”
  • Randall Fuller, author of “The Book That Changed America: How Darwin's Theory of Evolution Ignited a Nation”
  • Denyse Schmidt will present "Modern Quilts, Traditional Inspiration"
  • Paulette Jiles, author of "News of the World," had to cancel her appearance due to a family emergency.

P.S. KERA will be there, too


KERA's vice president of news Rick Holter will talk about the “One Crisis Away” project as part of a panel on multimedia storytelling that includes Keith Campbell of The Dallas Morning News and Kirsten Watson, a freelance photographer who graduated from University of North Texas. That hourlong panel starts at 11 a.m. on the library's seventh floor.


Health, science and tech reporter Lauren Silverman will moderate a discussion about the health of the city, with a focus on mental health, among panelists Meredith Baughman, Alex Piquero, Joe Powell and John Sadler. That panel runs from 1:45 to 3 p.m. in Room 310 of the convention center.


Jeff Whittington, executive producer of Think and host of Anything You Ever Wanted To Know, will moderate a panel called “Equitable Pathways to Becoming an Entrepreneur” from 3:15 to 4:30 p.m. in Room 302/303 of the convention center. He'll be joined by panelists Salah Boukadoum, Justin Nygren, Michelle Williams and Tisha Crear.

Learn more

The Dallas Festival of Ideas

The Dallas Book Festival

Festival map 

All events will take place at the convention center or the downtown library. There will be shuttles to take visitors between the festivals. The Dallas Festival of Ideas originally was scheduled for the plaza outside Dallas City Hall, but festival organizers moved inside the convention center because of a forecast for rain.