Top European Writing Residencies
This blog is a quick guide to writing retreats in Europe taking place in 2019. It’s a non-exhaustive list! If you know of a brilliant taught retreat taking place in Europe in 2019, do let me know and I’ll add it. I have prioritized retreats taking place outside of the UK, but do feel free to share those in the comments!
Writing retreats are the writer’s dream. It gives them space to concentrate completely on their creative work without the day-to-day domestic distractions. However, they are also an investment of time and money. So if you’ve been saving up for a retreat, you want to make sure it’s the right one for you.
In this list, I’ve decided to focus on taught writing retreats, because those provide extra value to what is otherwise just a ‘space of one’s own’. These vary in intensity: from multiple daily workshops, to weekly feedback sessions, from small group sessions and individual tutorials. Some leave your day unstructured with the option of socializing and sharing your writing in the evening. Whatever format works best for you, there’s a retreat out there for you!
When: 10-16 March 2019
Where: Venice, Italy
Cost: $2400/2800 including accommodation, tuition, breakfast and dinner, as well as a few extra perks.
Genres: Fiction and Non-Fiction
About: Write Away Europe organizes multiple retreats around Europe. This Venetian one will take place in a restored manor and promises tasty food and inspiration.
What people have said about it: “Thanks for the energy and inspiration! What a life-changing week, my notebooks are filling!” -Maureen J., travel & non-fiction writer
When: 3-7 April 2019
Where: Reykjavik, Iceland
Cost: £1834-1287 depending on package chosen. Also possibility to extend the stay.
About: Over the course of the retreat, each participant is enrolled in a total of five two-hour small-group writing workshops (max. 15 participants) led by internationally acclaimed authors. There’s also a Q&A panel with all faculty, and numerous readings and social functions. Faculty this year includes Louis de Bernières, Chigozie Obioma, and Elizabeth Renzetti.
What people have said about it: “Workshops were amazing. Down-to-earth discussions in a small group atmosphere.” – Sam, Canada, 2015 participant
Date: 8-15 May 2020
Where: Brittany, France
Cost: 3 single rooms left for £850 (earlybird price until 31st December 2019: £750). Includes accommodation, food, and tuition.
Genres: All writing genres welcome
About: Inspired by the area where the residency will be taking place, participants will discover spaces where history and present overlap, where nature and urbanity co-exist. The retreats are taught, which means participants will have a mixture of site-specific workshops and tutorials as well as alone time to spend on their writing. There will also be optional excursions. Full disclosure: I am one of the tutors!
What people have to say about it: “Verse Kraken was a place of metamorphosis and growth I never imagined possible – beautifully structured by the organisers with a wonderful mix of workshops with a thread tying them all together effortlessly and designed to make us think in new ways; fieldtrips and surroundings to inspire the soul; personal time to write on our own, and peer-to-peer feedback to bond us as a group.” Jaime S.
Date: 2-8 June 2019
Where: Chateau Les Bardons, France
Cost: €900/1400 for shared/single room if deposit placed before 1st December, includes accommodation, tuition, food, nightly aperitif and online community. There is a $10 application fee.
About: The heart of L’Atelier Writers is community and this extends beyond the length of the retreat, with opportunities to collaborate and support each other online. The days are a mixture of unstructured time to write and scheduled discussions and readings.
What people have to say about it: Their website doesn’t feature testimonials, but you can get a taster of the goodwill surrounding them by looking at their Twitter feed.
Date: 22-28 June 2019
Where: Gardoussel Retreat, France
Cost: £875 including tuition, accommodation and meals, or £295 for just the course
Genres: Fiction and Non-Fiction
Abri Creative Writing Holidays organizes various retreats across the year to suit different budgets and styles of writing. This particular retreat will be taught by bestselling novelist Lucy Wadham and is titled ‘Writing from Life’. Here’s an extract from the blurb: “Whether you’re interested in writing fiction or memoir, Lucy will help you to hone the skills that are required for a good novel. Teaching you how to build conflict and tension through pace and structure, precise language and rich detail, Lucy will help you to shape your material and uncover its universal appeal.”
What people have to say about it: “What a tremendous week. The writer in me feels recharged, by the wonderful location – the tables in the meadow, the fireplaces to talk around in the evening, the mountain views and even a river to swim in – the nourishing food, the best massage I’ve ever had on site, but above all the company, and our wonderful feedback sessions in the Buddha garden” -Margaret Dolley
Date: 23-30 June
Where: west of Ireland
Cost: earlybird pricing (until 15th January): $1,995. The cost includes accommodation, breakfast and some other meals, tuition, transport and fees for the tours
About: A tour of the west of Ireland combined with individual tuition and group workshops from Vanetta Chapman and Amanda Flower. The theme of the retreat is ‘Writing Craft and Productivity’ and is aimed to help writers take the craft to the next professional level.
What people have to say about it: “A perfect combination of writing workshops and seeing Ireland. I left with Ireland in my heart and new enthusiasm for my craft”.–Elin N., Colorado, U.S.A.
Date: 14-28 July 2019
Where: Tbilisi, Georgia
Cost: $1950. Note: does not include accommodation, food, or travel to Georgia.
Genre: All genres welcome
About: The 2019 Georgia program will seek to foster cultural exchange and lifelong friendships and artistic collaborations. Therefore, participants will work closely with Georgian and international writers and artists. Our home base in Tbilisi once again will be the Writer’s House of Georgia — a magnificent breathtaking Art Nouveau mansion and vital cultural centre. The retreat includes workshops, individual tuition, and guided tours.
What people have to say about it: “SLS… offers an intense intellectual, artistic and human experience unlike any other… an outstanding and transformative enterprise.” – Fanny Howe
Date: 21 September-6 October 2019
Where: Tuscany, Italy
Cost: 2600 Euro
Genre: all writing genres, as well as visual and performing arts
About: The Lemon Tree House is an artist residency program designed to create the perfect balance between social and alone time for creating work. Days are free and unstructured, with cocktails, dinner and craft talks in the evening with the writer and artist-in-residence.
What people have to say about it: “I loved that my ONLY responsibility for two weeks was to create. Grocery shopping, cooking and all of life’s little distractions were taken care of by Julie and the amazing staff. My duty was to write. And so I did. I loved it!” — Sofi Papamarko 2014 Fall Lemon Tree
Date: 27-29 September 2019
Where: Lyme Regis, UK
Cost: £200 (earlybird discount: £150 until 31st July)
About: Spend the weekend in the footsteps of Mary Anning and Jane Austen in our next city-based writing retreat. If a multimedia writing retreat open to all genres of writing appeals to you, come and join us! You’ll dig into history and geology, mix up past and present, and have the opportunity to experiment not just with your writing but with other art forms too.
What people have to say about it: “Verse Kraken was a place of metamorphosis and growth I never imagined possible – beautifully structured with a wonderful mix of workshops with a thread tying them all together effortlessly and designed to make us think in new ways. It felt like home, a safe place to grow and explore and become more confident being myself, knowing my voice as a writer. ” – Jaime S, writer, poet.
Other Writing Retreats in Europe?
If these dates don’t suit or your budget is lower, then don’t despair. There are still lots of option to DIY your own writing retreats in Europe: hire a gite or an airbnb house, invite some friends, and give yourself a schedule or a goal for your time there. Sometimes, even just a weekend or a day can make a big difference!
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