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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!

What to bring to IBF?

If you're traveling for the festival and plan to spend the day at the National Press Club, or out-and-about in the city, we recommend planning ahead and being prepared with a backpack. Unfortunately, for our 2023 event, no book carriers with wheels are allowed. IBF involves lots of people and lots of walking / standing. Also, there's so many activities and author booths to navigate. These are a few things we recommend grabbing on your way to the event:

  • A bag within your bag: You never know how many things you may need to carry with you throughout the day. 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, 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 walking, 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. And it will help you remember what books you pre-ordered!

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 Crystals member and receive text alerts for early pre-sale tickets, allowing you to secure the tickets you want before they're opened to the public. Safely trade / transfer tickets and share about your event experience! 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.

Navigating crowds & lines


With so many fans coming together for the same event, lines and crowds are inevitable. You will be waiting in line for registration, for room entrance, and then you may be waiting in line to get your books signed by a specific author. 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 one ticket, 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. 

  • Bring a foldable stool if you will be standing in the registration line for awhile. These are portable and easy to store in your bag. If you prefer to sit on the ground, only sit in designated areas. Please do not lie down, obstruct traffic, or put yourself in harm's way. Foldable stools will not be permitted in author lines.

  • Use the event schedule and event map to plan your day. Choose which authors and vendors you want to visit first, then arrive early for the signing so you get a good place in line. Authors with long lines will be periodically cut short at 10-15 people, so you can always visit other exhibitors in the meantime, and then circle back. 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.

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 National Press Club for lunch, aim to head out 15 minutes early. Also, you can order your food online and walk to pick it up from a nearby, dine-in eatery. No outside food will be permitted at the National Press Club.

  • 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, 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: 5/3/23

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