Transylvanian Book Festival

9-12 September 2021


Transylvanian Book Festival

9-12 September 2021


Transylvanian Book Festival

9-12 September 2021


An Imaginative Whirlpool

The Transylvanian Book Festival presents a programme of writers, poets and musicians who, through their work, explore the richness of Romanian culture and, more specifically, the extraordinary cultural melting pot that is Transylvania.

Kept deliberately small, its relaxed atmosphere and the tradition of everyone eating together – writers, musicians, international audiences, volunteers and local guests alike – often outside in the golden September sunshine – gives it a unique charm and the air of a fête champêtre.

There are no white tents – most of the talks and performances take place in the local village hall or in historic buildings in the neighbouring countryside.

‘I loved everything I saw and can’t wait for the next one… I’m just a huge fan.’

Andrew J Noble | British Ambassador | British Embassy Bucharest

The Transylvanian Festival takes place in the fairytale landscape of Transylvania.

This is the landscape that informed much of the writing and music, and the programme includes visits with expert guides (local farmers, art historians and writers) to the surrounding countryside, delicious meals served in a variety of beautiful historic settings and concerts given by local choirs as well as musicians of international repute.

Following the book festival, we plan a series of gentle walks and excursions for those who wish to continue the conversations and explore further the history, landscape and architecture of the enchanting Romanian countryside.

‘Looking back now, those four packed days already seem like a dream. We all learned so much – not only about Transylvania – and made so many friends and had such a gloriously happy time’

The Transylvanian Book Festival was founded by Lucy Abel Smith in 2013 to celebrate the cultural wealth of this region and to celebrate its history, literature, architecture and ethnic diversity. Set amidst the villages and foothills of Transylvania, this festival is unique in Romania.

Surrounded by beech and oak forests and the tranquillity of this great medieval landscape – the last in Europe, writers and audiences will have unrivalled opportunity for discussions and discoveries among the beautiful ancient Saxon villages of Copsa Mare, Biertan and Richis, the latter of which will host the Festival. All three villages are linked by a narrow road along the valley with gently rolling hills, terraced for vines, rising on either side. It is within these villages that guests are invited to select their accommodation, and shuttles will provide transport for those who do not wish to walk.

Become a Patron, Friend or Volunteer

We offer many interesting opportunities for sponsors, including

  • logos at events and on our website and in our festival programm
  • Printed material from sponsors displayed at key points in festival
  • Potential to sponsor individual lectures and events
  • Discount rate for staff
  • Free tickets, VIP access and reserved seating
  • Corporate social responsibility – the festival has an outreach programme for the local community and schools
  • Media – coverage and promotion of the festival in broadcast, print media, social media and online
  • Broad range of sponsorship opportunities
  • Social Media; programme distributed in UK, Romania and US; high profile fundraising and associated events in UK and Romania.

To discuss further sponsorship options and benefits available, and for more details about the festival, please contact us.


Bought a house in Richis to save it and conserve it and had the idea of holding the festival to preserve and promote the culture of Transylvania, the first one taking place in the village hall and surrounding countryside in 2013.


First visited Transylvania in 1996. She first attended the festival in 2016, speaking about the Dacians in Britain and Britons in Dacia. In 2018 she chaired the festival and was appointed director in 2020.


Ensures the efficient administration of the festival, dealing with bookings and working with colleagues in the UK and Romania to ensure that everyone gets from A to B.


Owner and tour leader of her Brasov-based travel company DiscoveRomania has worked together with Lucy and Bronwen ensuring the smooth-running of tours in Romania for almost 20 years. We are delighted that she has now taken on the organisation of accommodation and travel logistics for the festival.


UK based travel consultant has been organising journeys to Romania for decades and helps festival-goers arrange flights and trains to and from Romania.


Owner of transport company Gammis in Medias, works closely with Laura to organise transfers to and from airports; vehicle hire and transportation around the countryside for visits and picnics.


Originally from Holland, is now a resident of Richis and is in charge of all the superb local cooks, preparing delicious meals and picnics and also hosting guests at her accommodation in Richis.


Ana Bianchi and Louise Russell head our volunteers team. Ana is a professional artist, and author of local history books, who joined us at the Festival in 2018. Louise is a teacher who was enchanted by Transylvania on her first visit in 2007 and has since become a regular visitor. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact us

2021 Programme

As ever, we plan music, celebratory meals, excursions to nearby villages and to the town of Medias and wonderful company. History, wine, food, music, conservation of historic buildings and wildflowers are all planned in the programme. We are in Transylvania after all.

The programme for 2021 is still subject to change, due to the ongoing uncertainties of the pandemic, but we will be inviting writers, historians, journalists, musicians, conservationists, from Romania, the UK and beyond, to take part in a mixture of live and virtual events. Our overall theme this year is therefore a reflective one: how and what we choose to remember.

  • Tamas Barcsay – on Samuel Brukenthal tbc
  • Dan Draghicescu & John Florescu – presents their film on Queen Marie of Romania
  • Round table discussion – the restoration of historic houses in Romania – the next generation
  • Freddy Bruckstein – on his father Ludo, author, dramatist, holocaust survivor
  • Irina Nistor – Romanian translator and film critic who secretly dubbed thousands of smuggled VHS films during the Communist period.
  • Esther Ronay – will show her film on Transylvanian folk music in the 1990s
  • Jessica Douglas-Home – on her secret meetings behind the Iron Curtain in the 1980s
  • Mark Almond –  historian, biographer of the Ceausescus, on the 1989 revolution
And talks and discussions on the nostalgia of food; the healing power of forgiveness, memoir and music.

“I just wanted to say that the Transylvanian Book Festival was the most exhilarating and enjoyable literary festival I've ever attended”

“Thank you for the most amazing, fascinating, informative and moving Festival… that has left us imbued with a new sense of respect and admiration for the land and peoples of Romania. How much they have suffered and how much, I fear, they will still have to contend with in the near future.”

“I just wanted to say what a wonderful, magical and very very special experience the TBF was.”

“What a triumph you have had and how privileged I was to have been part of it! I loved every minute and learned so much.”

“I am still processing everything that happened at the festival and gathering many thoughts... I've never been to anything quite like it before. The amazing collection of people, lack of division between speakers and audience, moving testimonies of victims of communism and Saxon survivors, the beauty of the music and the fun of the picnic, the new friendships that were struck, the conversations I had and the things I learned, and of course the late nights in the Gypsy bar, will always stay with me.”

“Was it real, or far, far away in the imagination. Back home now, the whole 5 days a golden dream, every moment glowing and shimmering in the last days of summer onto an amazing disparate group of people, every type and combination, interacting with pleasure, so happy to be there and I think fascinated by Richis, but also the high emotional and intellectual content of the talks.”

“The Transylvanian Book Festival was not like any other book festival out there, it brimmed with excitement as visitors immersed themselves in the local culture to get a taste of the Transylvanian way of life, in a neatly packed event that transported you to a different world, one that has been suspended in time and that only now comes to light to the rest of the world.”

“This has been, quite simply, the best and most inspiring literary festival I’ve ever attended. But more even than the readings, what has made it special has been the beauty of the countryside, the warmth of the locals, and – dare I say it? – the incredible cheapness of Romanian beer...”

Mark Almond

Lecturer in Modern History at Oxford. He has written a biography of Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu. He writes for The Guardian, New Statesman and Mail on Sunday. He is writing a book, due out in September this year, on 1989 in Romania.

Dr. Tamas Barcsay

Born in Budapest, Tamas spent his early childhood on the family property at Gilau (Gyalu), Transylvania. He grew up in Toronto Canada. Tamas holds degrees from the University of Toronto and a doctorate from the University of Oxford. Professor Emeritus of History at Ryerson University, Toronto. Senior Associate Member of St. Antonys College, Oxford 1987. He is the former Director and Programme Chairman of the Atlantic Council of Canada, Chairman of the Toronto Branch, Canadian Institute of International Affairs.

Ana Blandiana

Ana is a Romanian poet, essayist, and political figure. She is considered one of the leading contemporary Romanian authors.

Freddy Bruckstein

Freddy Bruckstein will talk of his father Ludovic Bruckstein and his book The Trap. This book offers a fascinating depiction of rural life in the Carpathians around the time of the Second World War, and the effects of the Holocaust not only on the Jewish community, but also the wider Christian society.

George Cooke

George Cooke (cello) has performed at venues such as the Wigmore Hall and Holywell Music Room, and abroad at the festivals of Chigiana, Ischia and Santa Cecilia. He has broadcast as composer and performer for BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio 4, and Belgian Radio 1. He completed his Masters at the Royal College of Music in 2015, after graduating with a first in Music from Oxford University.

Jaymee Coonjobeeharry

Jaymee Coonjobeeharry (flute and piccolo) plays with the London Philharmonic Orchestra. He is a fellow at the Royal College of Music, plays in the National Youth Jazz Orchestra, and has a first class masters degree in Chemisty from Oxford University.

Jessica Douglas Home

Jessica has a long association with Romania and her book Once Upon Another Time describes well Communist Romania. She founded the Mihai Eminescu Trust which has set many of the work patterns in conservation and job creation in Romania, especially Transylvania.

Dan Draghicescu

Since 1998, Dan has been involved in producing more than 400 TV advertising spots in Romania and abroad for key clients/brands, including the first online TV series produced locally Viata in 3. He spent twelve years in WPP (Grey and David Ogilvy) and for Centrade Saatchi & Saatchi and has focused on independent history film projects. In 2010 he established his own film production company PINK STRIPE Group and also started doing film production. Recently he has focused on History films and was involved with John Florescu in the making of a film on the life of King Michael The King’s War premiered at the TBF and the Life of Queen Marie to be shown at this year's festival.

Dagmar Dusil

Dagmar Dusil was born in Sibiu, Transylvania, but emigrated with her parents to West Germany in 1985. She has written several volumes of autobiographical fiction, short stories and poetry based on her memories of Transylvania.

John Florescu

John Florescu produced more than 150 hours of television for such networks as CBS, HBO, The History Channel and the BBC. He was executive producer for programmes with six Presidents of the United States, two former British prime Ministers and former leaders of the Soviet Union. He produced The King’s War on the life of King Michael and the Life of Queen Marie, working with Dan Draghicescu.

Dr Gabriel Hemery

Dr Gabriel Hemery is a British author, tree photographer, and silvologist (forest scientist). He co-founded an environmental charity for which he is currently the Chief Executive. He has written both fiction and non-fiction books featuring trees, and has authored more than 90 research and technical articles about forestry. Gabriel appears regularly on TV and radio talking about trees and the environment. He writes a popular blog where he also shares news of his photography and writing:

Shona Kallestrupp

Dr Shona Kalestrupp specialises in Central and East European art of the 19th and 20th centuries, particularly Romania, as well as 20th-century Scandinavian architecture and design. Her work focuses on issues of national/local identity and transnational exchange. She is currently Senior Researcher on the ERC-funded project Art Historiographies in Central and Eastern Europe.

Alexandra Mihailciuc

Alexandra Mihailciuc, architect and storyteller, is a community activist working on projects involving people with the heritage of their built environment. Moving between the village and the city, she introduces to new generations of craftspeople, traditional techniques and forgotten histories. She organises national and international workshops on art, architecture and education at which she also participates as a course teacher. She co-ordinated the "We beat the iron at the manor!" Cultural Program. She is also an architect at the Architecture Laboratory Prodid. Publications exploring crafts, architecture and heritage include Great Little World (winner of the Golden Cubes Prize, Romania 2020), The Art of Blacksmithing and Around the fire. She also produces cultural newspapers to contribute to community regeneration projects.

Irina-Margareta Nistor

Irina-Margareta Nistor is a Romanian translator and film critic who worked as a translator of TV programs in Romania under the Communist regime, and is known for secretly dubbing over 3,000 banned movie titles on VHS tapes smuggled in from the West. During the time of the Cold War, these tapes quickly spread throughout Romania, and her voice became widely known throughout the country.

Bronwen Riley

Director of the Transylvanian Book Festival

Bronwen Riley is a writer, editor and deviser of historical and literary journeys, with a special interest in the Classical world and in Romania – both life-long passions. She has lectured widely on Romanian history and culture and wrote her dissertation on a miracle-working icon in Oltenia. Publications include Transylvania, Journey to Britannia (US edition The Edge of the Empire) (2016).

Șerban Sturdza

Serban Sturdza is vice-president of Pro Patrimonio Romania, the National Trust of Romania. An eminent architect and restoration specialist, he was President of the Order of Romanian Architects (2002-2008) and correspondent member of the Romanian Academy – Department for Art, Architecture and the Audiovisual (2010). A keen promoter of learning through experimental workshops, he is interested in crafts, cultural routes, urban regeneration and the rehabilitation of public spaces. Over the years, he has assembled various interdisciplinary communities devoted to preserving the spirit of cultural landscapes.


We are very pleased to be able to keep the cost of attending the complete festival at the same level as previous years; the price is £780. This price includes attendance at all talks during the festivals, lunches and dinners during the festival (with wine included), transport to and from your accommodation to the festival site and your choice of excursions during the festival. The price does not include flights and transfers or accommodation – due to such a variety of accommodation on offer.

Book before the end of May 2021 and save £50 per person.

Within Romania, day tickets will be available (kindly subsidised by an anonymous Romanian donor).

Please note that although all bookings for the festival are made through Reality and Beyond Ltd, the Transylvanian Book Festival is run on a not-for-profit basis, with any excess profit donated to the local town charity “Pro Richis”.

The price of £780 includes access to all talks, workshops, concerts, films, parties and excursions throughout the festival. It also includes all lunches and dinners (including local wine) and shuttles to and from accommodation to festival events and transport on excursions during the festival.

The festival price does not include flights, transfers or accommodation which must be arranged separately (see above).

Book before the end of May 2021 to receive our £50 early-bird discount.

To make a booking enquiry and receive our official booking form, please use our form.

Travel & Accommodation

Travel to and from Romania; airport shuttles and accommodation are not included in tour price although we can offer expert help on making all travel, accommodation and transfers for participants.

For advice on flying to the festival, ring Mike Morton 01900 824329 or email Sibiu is the nearest airport to the festival with a limited direct service to the UK currently operated by WIZZAIR from Luton. Austrian Airlines and Lufthansa also run flights to Sibiu with a stop off – options available from various UK airports.

There are also frequent direct flights to Romania from London and regional UK airports to Cluj and Bucharest (transfer time to Richis approximately 4-5 hours).


The most useful rail services are the two international sleeper trains which run daily from Vienna and Budapest to Bucharest. Connections can be made with flights or Eurostar trains from the UK. There is also a daily daytime service from Budapest, i.e.

  • IC75 Budapest Keleti 09:10 – Sibiu 20:30
  • IC74 Sibiu 08:15 – Budapest Keleti 17:50

Car Hire

Car rental is available from Bucharest, Cluj Napoca, Sibiu and Târgu Mureş. One way drop off is also possible, and cars can also be delivered to Sighişoara or Mediaş.

Please contact Laura Vesa at DiscoveRomania (email: for all airport transfers and accommodation information and bookings.

There is a variety of comfortable B&Bs in Richis, Biertan, Copsa Mare and surrounding villages with a range of prices from c. Euro 25 to Euro 150. Please contact Laura for up-to-date pricing and description of the accommodation on offer.

Contact us

For the festival from outside Romania
Reality and Beyond Ltd 0044 1285 750 358/888

For Bed and Breakfast and shuttles to/from airports/railway stations
Laura Vesa, DiscoveRomania

For flights and trains
Mike Morton

Romania Day ticket office: +40 269 258 423 or +40 723 516 581