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Event Guide

Imaginarium Book Festival welcomes hundreds of fantasy fans from around the world to Washington, DC, every year for a fun-packed and bookish weekend. We've created this guide to help make your IBF experience memorable, especially for first time event-goers!

Carts & Bags

If you're traveling for the festival and plan to spend the day at the University of the District of Columbia, or out-and-about in the city, we recommend planning ahead and being prepared with a backpack and/or book cart. Select types of book carriers with wheels are allowed at our event, shown here! There's so many activities and author booths to navigate, so these are a few things we recommend grabbing on your way to the festival:

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  • Book cart: These are perfect if you plan to purchase many things! They will be allowed inside the Lit Talk rooms, but not the Enchanted Forest Soirée brunch. Tip: Add stickers or tie something to your cart so you can easily identify it!

  • Mobile ticket: To enter the festival, you must have purchased a Celestial, Phantasma, or Voyager ticket. Each QR code will be scanned at registration, including the add-on tickets. Make sure you can locate your ticket(s) before arriving!

  • Bookplates: If you don't plan to travel with many books, or if you don't want to attend the festival with many in-hand, bookplates are a great alternative! Have your favorite authors sign them, and then you can place them in your books when you return home. We have great IBF ones here!

  • A bag within your bag: You never know how many things you'll need to carry throughout the day, if you won't be bringing a cart. Putting an extra bag within your bag will ensure you have space for everything.

  • Chargers & battery packs: Keep your devices charged and with you at all times. 

  • Sunglasses & sunscreen: Washington, DC can get quite hot in the summer months, so you'll definitely want to bring your favorite pair of sunglasses. And of course, avoid those sun burns!

  • Books: You can bring books from home to get signed by your favorite authors. Load them into your backpack or cart, and don't forget to add a sticky note with your name to the page you'd like the author to sign. 

  • Sharpie markers / pens: If you have a special Sharpie marker or pen you'd like authors to sign with, bring it! Also, you never know who you may meet. Stay prepared for those signatures!

  • Bank card: Some IBF vendors / exhibitors may accept cash, but most will prefer electronic payments. Plan to bring a bit of cash and your bank card, if you will be purchasing books and merchandise.

  • Refillable water bottle & mini fan: Since you will be doing lots of moving around, it's important to stay cool and hydrated. We recommend packing a refillable, insulated water bottle, and throw in a mini battery-operated fan. 

  • Pre-order receipts: If you pre-ordered books from the IBF bookseller, or from any of the exhibitors, print out your paid receipts and bring them with you, just in case you need to show proof of purchase. Also, it will help you remember what books you pre-ordered!

Registration & Badge Pick-Up

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Early registration will be held on Thursday, June 6, from 3PM to 6PM ET. So if you'll be in the area, stop by to pick-up your badge passes and ticket perks, then skip the registration line on Friday! Remember to bring the necessary items back with you on Friday, especially your event badge. Note: There are two lines—one for registration, and one for general entry when the festival begins. To spend less time in lines, we recommend attending the early registration, or choose to have your items shipped to you. You can purchase this option in the Store. Otherwise, you can register on Friday or Saturday and receive your badge then. All event signings and activities will begin on Friday, June 7.

Main Tickets:

  • If you have a Celestial ticket, you will receive a badge + lanyard and a VIP tote bag that includes two cupsleeve drink tickets.

  • If you have a Phantasma ticket, you will receive a badge + lanyard.

  • If you have a Voyager ticket, you will be attending on SATURDAY ONLY and receiving a badge + lanyard.

Add-on Tickets:

  • If you have an Enchanted Forest Soirée ticket, you will receive a limited edition graphic tee and a ribbon for your badge.

  • If you have a Lit Talk ticket, you will receive a 2024 Lit Talk pin and a Lit Talk ribbon for your badge.

  • If you have a Books & Brewing ticket, you will have the option to choose between Group A or Group B badge ribbons. If one group is full, you will receive a ribbon for the remaining group. Please add your B&B ribbons to your badge by Saturday, June 8, when the classes occur.

Author Queues

Authors Elise Kova, Harper L. Woods, Scarlett St. Clair, and Tracy Wolff will be queue-only exhibitors. When you arrive for registration, a QR code for the queue will be on the back of your event badge. It will open at the start of the signing on each day and close at the end of each day. Once you scan it with your phone camera, you’ll be taken to a sign-in. Select the author you would like to queue for and it will immediately place a hold on your position in line while you submit your info. You’ll see your wait time, your number in line, and you’ll also receive an email when you’re next!

This means you don’t have to wait in line for long periods of time. You can visit other authors and vendors, go grab something to eat, and then come back. There will be a maximum of 10-15 people allowed in line to keep all walkways clear for traffic. You can only queue for one of these authors at a time.

Additionally, the queues will pause during lunch break and at the end of DAY 1. They will never restart.

Navigating Crowds & Lines

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With so many fans coming together for the same event, lines and crowds are inevitable. You will be waiting in line for registration and for general event entrance. Here are a few tips on how to handle the hustle and bustle on the IBF event floor:

  • The Lit Talk room will be cleared out between sessions, so although you can attend all sessions with your badge ribbon, it might be best to plan ahead and decide which ones you really want to be there for. Then join the line 5-10 minutes early so you can grab a great seat. Seats are first-come, first-serve. Once the room capacity limit is met, doors will be closed. 

  • Use the event schedule and event map to plan your day. Choose which authors and vendors you want to visit first, then arrive on-time for the signing so you get a good place in line. Authors with a queue line will be periodically cut short at 10-15 people, so you can always visit other exhibitors in the meantime, and then circle back when your number is closer. If the author will be signing on multiple days of the festival, plan to visit them another day if you weren't able to see them on the first day. 

  • Drop-off your books at home, or at your hotel room, after Day 1 of the festival. This way, you can arrive for Day 2 of the festival with less books in-hand and more space in your bags/carts.

How to get tickets?

Tickets to the festival go on sale every summer. You can subscribe to our newsletter to be among the first to know when they're available, or follow us on social media! Also, you can become an IBF Purple Crystal member to receive text alerts for early pre-sale tickets, allowing you to secure the tickets you want before they're opened to the public. You can also join the official IBF Facebook Group to connect with others attending the festival. Note: You must add your mobile phone number to your account to receive SMS notifications.

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Other Tips:

  • Grab your breakfast and coffee in the morning before the festival. It won't be much fun to operate on an empty stomach, so remember to eat something nutritious in the morning that will give you enough energy to last until lunch break!

  • Ask before touching a table display. Please remember that IBF exhibitors put a lot of time, effort, and resources into their table displays. Be respectful and kind. If you ask to touch a book or product on display, remember to also make conversation with the author / seller behind the table. They're very excited to meet you and tell you all about their work!

  • Take lots of photos and videos! This one goes without saying. You'll want to treasure those moments with friends and your favorite authors.

  • Leave early for your lunch break. To beat the crowd that will be exiting the Student Center for lunch on Saturday, aim to head out 15 minutes early. Also, you can order your food online and pick it up from a nearby eatery. Or you can dine-in!

  • Enjoy the city and local bookstores! Washington, DC has lots to offer. From historical and memorial sites, to independent bookstores. If you're in the mood for a bookstore crawl before or after the festival, we highly recommend these amazing spots: Politics & Prose, Mahogany Books, Capitol Hill Books, Kramers, The Lantern, Loyalty Bookstore, Second Story Books, and East City Bookshop.

Last Updated: 2/16/24

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