L.A. Times Festival of Books 2016 kicks off Saturday

The 21st annual Los Angeles Times Festival of Books kicked off Saturday at the USC campus, featuring more than 500 authors, celebrities, musicians and chefs who will be sharing their love of books during the weekend.

The two-day festival — the nation's largest — will run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. All events — which include workshops, book readings, lectures and concerts — are free.

This year's lineup includes former astronaut Buzz Aldrin, U.S. poet laureate Juan Felipe Herrera, "Top Chef" host Padma Lakshmi, YA author Ransom Riggs, religious scholar Reza Aslan and Newbery Award winner Kwame Alexander.

Literary enthusiasts can purchase tickets online, at $30 and up, for talks on Sunday led by speakers Carrie Brownstein and Arianna Huffington as part of the L.A. Times Ideas Exchange Series.

Hundreds of exhibitors will be selling merchandise and — you guessed it — books, books and more books.

Festival-goers also can enjoy live music, cooking demonstrations, Q&A sessions, children's activities, travel talks, poetry readings and live street art.

The event's schedule includes more than 100 discussions on a wide variety of topics, including California's role in the presidential race, the art of the short story and science, technology and the human condition.

Some events require free tickets, which can be obtained online or at the festival's ticketing booth.

Parking is available for $12 at various USC lots, or for $20 Saturday and $15 Sunday in Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Lots 1 and 2. Free shuttle service is provided from the USC Parking Center at 35th Street and Grand Avenue and Coliseum Lot 2.

Because of the Azusa Now religious gathering at the Coliseum, Festival of Books organizers are encouraging festival-goers to use public transportation. Metro riders will receive a 10% discount on merchandise, including mugs and T-shirts.

Cloudy skies and intermittent showers are expected throughout opening day, with temperatures hovering in the mid-60s.

For more information, including the festival schedule, lineup and a map, see events.latimes.com/festivalofbooks.

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taylor.goldenstein@latimes.com

Twitter: @taygoldenstein

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