The Rise of Fiction Tourism

The Bloomsday festival brings in thousands of visitors every June to Dublin.  It celebrates the 16th of June 1904, the day depicted in James Joyce’s novel Ulysses. Scenes from James Joyce’s Ulysses are re-enacted throughout the city, at various locations referred to in the novel during the 24-hour period, and participants dress up like characters from the book. It is just one example of fiction tourism, a trend that has grown and will continue to prosper in the next few years.


Another example is The Melville Trail, which includes a tour of Herman Melville’s whaling routes and a detailed orienteering trip which informs students of Melville’s inspirations behind the novel Moby Dick. The recent publication of his annotations in the marginalia of the text for Moby Dick – The Life and Works of Herman Melville is available online.


A contemporary example is the Swedish start-up StoryTourist’s tourism experience where books, films and other stories come to life, such as Sherlock Holmes’ StoryTour in London. Their model is described as a ‘Pokemon Go for Stories’ and users can create their own literary journeys on StoryTourist’s mobile app, so they can ‘step into the story’. You can make your own treasure hunts in the forest, the city, or wherever the story takes you, listen to audio tracks, and play with Augmented Reality effects.


Exploring real-life locations where fictional stories took place is a rewarding endeavour for adults and children, and #DBF2018 will offer some location-based storytelling treats in this year’s treasure hunt for children, in addition to the many wondrous walking tours available on the programme, such as Christopher Moriarty’s River Liffey Walking Tour (based on his new book,The River Liffey – History and Heritage), Pat Liddy’s Literary Walking Tour, Revolutionary Dublin 1912-1923 Walking Tour, and Frank Cullen’s Walking Tour of the motley crew of quirky local residents of Dublin between 1600 and 1800, in backstreets surrounding Christchurch Cathedral.


Fiction tourism can also bring us back to the future! Darya Yegorina from CleverBooks will give us refreshing insights into the nuances of augmented reality storytelling in geography books at our Business Clinic event on Friday 16 November at 9am in Smock Alley Theatre. She will be joined by Máite Lopez from ATiTAGAiN!  who will tell us about the company’s Romping through Irish Literature series, a project which has really embraced and celebrated the benefits of fiction tourism for book and travel enthusiasts.


Everyone’s literary journey is different –  we all have our own imaginings of a story as we travel through it in both real-time and in the mind’s eye. At each course of the trip we get a glimpse into the author’s world in their book, the creative process they went through, and the characters they built and moulded for us.


We look forward to welcoming you to #DBF2018 as we embark on a new literary journey on Thursday 15 November at our hub in Smock Alley Theatre.


All the best,

Everyone from the #DBF2018 team.


Photo credit: Kira auf der heide