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Bigger, Spectacular Main Stage

You came, you spoke, we listened! The increasing popularity of our National Book Festival Main Stage through the years have led to bigger and bigger crowds. To accommodate you all and give you a better festival experience, we’ve moved our most popular stage into one of the biggest spaces in the Washington Convention Center.

And what a line-up in 2019 for this big, new space!

Authors appearing on the Main Stage, from left: Richard Ford, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, José Andrés, David Brooks, Raina Telgemeier, David McCullough, Michael Beschloss

  • At 10 a.m., Library of Congress Carla Hayden presents author Richard Ford the Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction for his remarkable body of work, and Ford will discuss his life and career.
  • At 11:30 a.m., U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg discusses “My Own Words” with Nina Totenberg.
  • At 1 p.m., Chef José Andrés talks about his books “Vegetables Unleashed” and “We Fed an Island: The True Story of Rebuilding Puerto Rico, One Meal at a Time” with Diane Rehm.
  • At 2:30 p.m., David Brooks shares insights from his book ““The Second Mountain: The Quest for a Moral Life” with National Book Festival Co-Chairman David M. Rubenstein.
  • At 4 p.m., graphic artist Raina Telgemeier talks about “Share Your Smile: Raina’s Guide to Telling Your Own Story.”
  • At 5:30 p.m., David McCullough shares insights from his book “The Pioneers: The Heroic Stories of the Settlers Who Brought the American Ideal West.”
  • To close the day at 7 p.m., Michael Beschloss discusses “Presidents of War” with David M. Rubenstein.

To get a flavor for our Main Stage and to get in the mood for our 2019 festival (just a few weeks away), watch a presentation from last year’s event: Amy Tan discusses “Where the Past Begins: A Writer’s Memoir.”

The 2020 Library of Congress National Book Festival, which is free for everyone, will be held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center on Saturday, Aug. 29. You can get up-to-the-minute news, schedule updates and other important festival information by subscribing to this blog. The festival is made possible by the generosity of sponsors. You too can support the festival by making a gift now.


  1. AerleTaree
    August 2, 2019 at 12:10 pm


  2. Gregg
    August 2, 2019 at 12:15 pm

    So will one have to wait in line to get seat or will tickets be given?

  3. Linda
    August 2, 2019 at 12:16 pm

    Is the room cleared between events or can one remain in the venue?

  4. cindy
    August 2, 2019 at 12:24 pm

    Question – see Justice Ginsburg, do we sit and stay through the 10am open?

  5. John Sayers
    August 2, 2019 at 1:17 pm

    Gregg, Linda, Cindy: None of the National Book Festival stage will be ticketed, and there will be a queueing line to enter each area room. However, we expect any lines to move very quickly, due to the expanded seating areas. Stage locations will not be cleared after each presentation.

  6. Lisa
    August 2, 2019 at 4:56 pm

    So which area/space is the Main Stage moving to???

  7. Kathy Stern
    August 2, 2019 at 8:55 pm

    This is exciting news. I may be too late for this year but could I suggest a time gap of 2 hours between author talk and signing? The last two years I have skipped the author talk to get a space in line for the book signing and just patiently wait a week or two for booktv to show it on air.

  8. Susan Senn
    August 3, 2019 at 7:05 am

    My favorite event of the year!

  9. Deb
    August 3, 2019 at 7:13 am

    When will the app be released?

  10. Joan
    August 3, 2019 at 2:57 pm

    Will RBG be signing her book after discussion?

  11. Maria Dadki
    August 4, 2019 at 2:33 pm

    We went last year for the first time and arrived around 11:30am.
    Learned our lesson. Lines were endless, and disappointments abounded when we couldn’t get in after such a long wait .
    Best to be there when it opens if you have any hope of listening to the wonderful authors featured. We did get luckier with the book purchases and signings and met several authors that way.
    Plan for an all day stay. A wonderful and very interesting event.
    We loved it!!

  12. John Sayers
    August 5, 2019 at 1:22 pm

    Deb, it just went live! //www.loc.gov/apps/?loclr=blognbf

  13. John Sayers
    August 5, 2019 at 1:28 pm

    Joan, Justice Ginsburg will not be signing her book at the festival.

  14. Linda
    August 6, 2019 at 12:04 pm

    Hi, Are there any tips for first time attendees?

  15. John Sayers
    August 6, 2019 at 12:11 pm

    Hello, Linda! Here’s a post from last year that has lots of good info for first-timers. //blogs.loc.gov/national-book-festival/2018/08/make-the-most-of-your-day-2/ (We’ll be updating this post a little closer to the day of the festival.) See you in D.C. on the 31st!

  16. Brooke
    August 29, 2019 at 10:55 am

    How early do people usually begin lining up for the main stage?

  17. John Sayers
    August 29, 2019 at 11:13 am

    Hello Brooke! The doors to the Convention Center will open at 8:30 am, and people may proceed directly to the Main Stage after they exit security screening. See you Saturday!

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