5 Tips for Yallfest
Yallfest is a 2-day book festival celebrating YA novels and authors. The festival takes place in Charleston, SC and is sponsored by Blue Bicycle Books. You can get books signed, meet authors, attend panels, and snag lots of free bookish stuff. The festival is free to the public, but there are a few events that may require a free ticket or a paid ticket. Also some signings may require a book purchase. But you can easily participate for free.
This was my first year attending the book festival, and while I enjoyed it overall, I also learned a lot. Here are my 5 tips for Yallfest!
1 ⟡ Plan ahead
Make an itinerary
My number 1 recommendation is to make your own itinerary. The Yallfest schedule is announced a few weeks before the festival which gives you plenty of time to decide what you want to do. I created a spreadsheet with the event type, time, and location. And then out of the things I was interested in, I color coded them.
Red: Okay to miss but could be fun
Yellow: I’d like to attend if possible
Green: I can’t miss this
Was it overkill? Probably. But it really helped me to visualize my most important events, but also see my backup options in case something was cancelled or if I got out of a signing line early.
Just commit and book your hotel
I waited until the day before to decide to go, woo! I booked a Holiday Inn Express about 15 minutes from the main book festival location. And thankfully it worked out great. I do think a hotel right in Charleston would be more convenient though, especially if you arrive on Thursday or early Friday. If you plan to do this, definitely book earlier than I did! The availability was low and the prices were high closer to Charleston.
2 ⟡ Set your expectations
I knew there would be no way to attend every signing and panel I wanted, and setting realistic expectations really helped me not be disappointed! I decided the best thing to do was focus on my green events (which in my case were book signings). I waited in line for Cassandra Clare, Tracy Deonn, and Stephanie Garber. Sabaa Tahir was on my list, but sadly she wasn’t there. With my schedule, I could have easily attended her signing, but opted to jump in a signing line early instead. Since the authors I wanted to meet were very popular, I got in line pretty early and was at the front for all 3. Because of the waiting time, I ended up not having time to attend panels. But because I set my expectations before hand, I wasn’t super bummed about it at the time.
3 ⟡ Bring essentials
Thank the Book Gods for the tiny umbrella I packed because it was HOT. I never new South Carolina could be so hot in November. Thankfully it didn’t rain, but I avoided heat stroke and a sunburn.
A water bottle
There are plenty of places to buy drinks, but not having to stop for water was super convenient.
Something to carry your books
I decided to stick with a backpack, but many festival goers brought a small rolling cart that also doubled as a seat. If I go again, this is what I’ll do!
4 ⟡ Arrive early
Get to Charleston early
I decided to drive down Friday night and really wish I would’ve been there earlier in the day to pick up my book orders and attend a few signings. It’s totally doable to only show up for the book festival on Saturday, but it was exhausting. We were in Charleston for less than 24 hours! I don’t recommend lol.
Get to the festival early
Yallfest opened at 9:30am on Saturday, but my first event wasn’t until 11am. I was worried about finding parking, so I decided to get there early at 8:50am. I found a parking garage and had no problem getting a spot. I ended up paying $6 for the time I was there and it was close to everything! But warning, the parking spaces were small. Picking up my book orders was also super quick and easy.
Get in signing lines early
I decided to get in line for signings early. I was in line an average of 1.5 hours before signing time for all 3 authors I wanted to meet. Since I was at the front, I got through the line quickly once it started. But let’s face it, you’re going to be waiting a while no matter when you get in the line. For popular authors, I would recommend getting in line at least and hour early. Sometimes they will cut off signing lines!
5 ⟡ Bring friends or make them
I brought my poor non-reader husband to Yallfest. Did he love it? No. Was it fine? Yes.
We ended up waiting in line literally all day for book signings. And while that’s not ideal, it was nice to not be alone. Everyone in line was super friendly. I’m sure if you’re a bit extroverted you could make a ton of friends just waiting in line! But hi, shy introvert here – I didn’t manage to do that lol.
I think Yallfest would be best experienced with a small group of bookish friends. Then you can chat books in line, divide and conquer to get books signed, or hold each other’s place when you need to pee after standing for 2 hours (hello to the Stephanie Garber signing line). I think if you’re considering going to Yallfest alone, it’ll be what you make it! If you’re introverted like me and plan to wait for signings, just bring a book! Or message me and we can go together hahaha.
Yallfest was interesting! I think for my first book festival it went pretty well. The main thing I would’ve changed is to not wait in line for Stephanie Garber and attend panels during that time instead. She was super nice and I’m glad I got my book signed! But I was so hot after standing in the sun for 1.5 hours that once I finally got to meet her, I was exhausted and not fit for human interaction lol. Next time I would try a mix of panels and signings.
Overall I’d recommend Yallfest to any YA enthusiast that wants to meet authors, learn more about writing, and make some bookish friends along the way.