Whether it's rock goddess Patti Smith speaking with literary genius Dave Eggers or graphic novelist Daniel Clowes talking pictures with fellow artists Dash Shaw and Jim Woodring, this weekend's L.A. Times Festival of Books is a literary smorgasbord, featuring a broad array of bestselling authors and celebrities, poets and chefs, book signings and performances — all of it offered free.
What's different is the location. Now in its 16th year, the annual two-day festival is moving from the UCLA campus in Westwood to the USC campus south of downtown L.A.
Attendees who will be driving to the festival on Saturday and Sunday can either take the 10 Freeway, exiting on Vermont Avenue south to Jefferson Boulevard, or take the 110 Freeway to Exposition Boulevard. Parking costs $10 at both USC and the Coliseum. About 19,000 parking spaces are available — slightly more than the number at UCLA.
Because 150,000 attendees are expected, however, public transportation is encouraged. New to the festival this year is the Bullseye Bus, presented by Target, which will operate a free public shuttle service, with stops at Union Station (Berth 4), the L.A. Convention Center (Gilbert Lindsay Plaza) and USC (at the intersection of Jefferson and Trousdale Parkway). Ten shuttle buses will run continuously, starting at 9 a.m. and ending one hour after the festival closes on both days.
Those planning to drive to the festival should be aware of Saturday's March of Dimes walk. Figueroa Street between Exposition and Martin Luther King Jr. boulevards, West 39th Street between Figueroa and South Hill streets and South Hill between West 39th and West 22nd streets will be closed from 5 to 10 a.m.
Fest-goers with an iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch or Android device can also download The Times' new — and free — Festival of Books app from the Apple App Store or Android Market. The app includes a schedule of events that's searchable by session name, author, book title or genre, as well as maps of the festival grounds and information about driving, parking and public transit.
As with previous years, the panels, readings and other events that take place indoors require tickets. This year, tickets are available through Eventbrite (fobpanels.eventbrite.com). They're free, but Eventbrite charges a $1 service fee per ticket.
Those who purchased tickets in advance received a confirmation email that also functions as their ticket. Ticketholders should arrive 10 minutes before the start of the session, otherwise they risk losing their seats.
Those who do not have tickets have two options. Fifteen percent of all tickets have been held back for distribution at the festival; they will be available at the Eventbrite booth (No. 463). If no tickets are left for a session, attendees may still have a chance if they arrive 10 minutes before the session is to begin. At that point, any seats that have not been claimed by ticketholders will be given away on a first-come, first-served basis.
For more information: events.latimes.com/festivalofbooks/program-schedule/