The Seminar and Writers’ Workshop Program are two separate and distinct programs. The Seminar explores a different literary theme each year through a four-day, outdoor program of readings, conversations, lectures, panel discussions, and interviews. Approximately twenty writers are featured at the Seminar, with up to 750 people in the audience at any given session.
The Workshop Program is composed of eight to ten individual workshops. Each workshop is led by a different instructor, and each has its own focus and eligibility requirements. Class size is limited to twelve participants per workshop; with a total of approximately 100 participants in the program. Classes are typically held indoors.
We offer two types of workshops: “All Levels” and “Advanced.” Advanced workshops require a writing sample as part of the application; all levels workshops are open to writers of all levels, and require only a cover letter.
Beginning in 2023, the schedules for the Seminar and Writers’ Workshop Program partially overlap:
- Workshops begin with an orientation dinner Tuesday night. Classroom sessions are held Wed-Thurs-Fri-Sat, typically from 10 am – 1 pm.
- The Seminar begins Thursday evening and continues Fri-Sat-Sun. Programming typically runs from 9:30 am to 6:30 pm.
Thus, it is possible to attend both programs but not both programs in their entirety. As our workshops require full participation, if you are enrolled in a workshop, your attendance at the Seminar would be limited to Thursday evening (Keynote), Friday and Saturday afternoons, and all day Sunday. The combined registration fee for both events is reduced to $975 (regularly $1,350) to reflect this limited attendance.
The schedule below illustrates what attending both programs would look like (Times are approximate, subject to change).
10 am–1 pm
10 am–1 pm
10 am–1 pm
10 am–1 pm
|Seminar morning program:
9:30 am–12:30 pm
|Seminar keynote & reception:
|Seminar afternoon program:
Workshop Farewell Cocktail Party:
|Seminar Afternoon Program:
|Seminar Afternoon Program:
The registration fee for the Seminar is $675 per person. The fee for writers’ workshops is $675 per person. You may participate in both programs for a discounted combined fee of $975.
A $300-per-person deposit is required to register for the Seminar and a $300 deposit is required for the workshops. The balance must be received by September 30. See the bottom of this page for our cancellation/refund policy.
The revenue we generate from registration fees covers approximately fifty percent of our total operating costs. We are grateful to the members of our Patrons Circle, whose funding support allows us to keep registration fees low and subsidizes the experience for most audience members.
Confirmed speakers for the upcoming Seminar are listed here. Click through for biographical information, a selected bibliography, and links to online resources. Writers’ Workshop faculty and course offerings are posted here.
In 2022, the Seminar moved to a larger venue allowing twice as many people to attend as in recent years. If and when the Seminar sells out, we will open a waitlist. If and when a space opens up, we will pull a randomly-generated name from the list and be in contact with you.
Each workshop is limited to twelve participants. We will continue to accept applications for full workshops; all new applications will be reviewed in the event of a cancellation. Over the course of the year, two or three cancellations per workshop are typical.
The annual four-day Seminar begins with our keynote presentation on Thursday evening around 5 pm. If you have registered for the Seminar and paid in full, you may check in and pick up your registration packet during the afternoon that same day, shortly before the keynote, or anytime during the weekend.
Programming begins again on Friday morning around 9 am, and continues all day Friday and Saturday, finishing after sunset each day. The final day of programming concludes on Sunday afternoon.
All presentations take place in a single location, the Coffee Butler Amphitheater (21 Quay Road) within Key West’s Truman Waterfront Park, and run consecutively so that it is possible to see everything. A detailed schedule will be released in November/December.
Advance registration is required to attend the Seminar in full and includes access to all onstage events, as well the opening night reception (catered, open bar), open-bar cocktail hours, and a light breakfast and coffee each morning. Selected portions of the Seminar are free-of-charge and open to the general public; these will be announced closer to the event.
The workshop program officially begins on Tuesday evening with an orientation dinner (for faculty and students only). Workshop classes begin Wednesday morning and take place each day through the final class on Saturday. Most workshops will be scheduled from 10 am to 1 pm. Most workshops will require some advance reading and/or a manuscript submission.
For the daily workshop sessions, you will be in a classroom with your instructor and eleven fellow students. It will be possible for you to attend some Seminar programming at a discounted rate, if you so choose. In addition, there will be opportunities to go sailing with fellow workshop participants and a final reception for students and faculty on Friday evening. The sailing opportunity requires an additional fee; all other events are included in your workshop fee.
I want to apply for a scholarship but I see the Seminar or my preferred Workshop is sold out. Am I too late?
We reserve a number of spaces for scholarship recipients to participate in the Seminar and/or Workshop Program. If you are awarded a scholarship, there will be a place for you.
Can I apply for multiple scholarships? What’s the difference?
Yes. Each of our scholarship opportunities has a different purpose, but you are welcome to apply for any and all opportunities that you qualify for. Our Teacher and Librarian Scholarships provide support for the Seminar only. Workshop Fellowships provides support for the Workshop Program only. The Emerging Writer Awards provide support for both the Seminar and the Workshop Program. Complete guidelines and application criteria can be found here.
I really want to take a workshop and I hope to qualify for financial assistance. How should I go about this?
Our typical workshop has twelve participants. Generally, ten participants will pay the full fee and two will receive financial assistance. Workshop applicants who are able to pay the full fee are reviewed on a rolling basis; those seeking financial assistance are reviewed together at a later date. Therefore, applying to a workshop through the financial assistance process is more competitive. If you can afford to attend without financial assistance, we recommend that you do not apply for assistance as this process may reduce your chances of being accepted into the workshop.
We urge you to make lodging reservations as soon as possible. Key West is among the most sought-after winter destinations in the country, and availability is limited (there are no camping sites on Key West). The lodging guide on our website offers a number of good recommendations. Many offer discounts to KWLS participants, and most are located in Old Town, Key West’s walkable/bikeable historic neighborhood. You can also call the good people at Vacation Key West (305-295-9500) for assistance with current rates and availabilities at a number of places.
The easiest route is to fly into Key West (airport code: EYW). Direct flights are available from an increasing number of cities, but many flights require a layover. It’s possible to save a bit of money by flying into Fort Lauderdale (FLL) or Miami (MIA) and taking the bus (greyhound.com) or airport shuttle to Key West (keysshuttle.com), but keep in mind that the drive will add as much as four to five hours to the trip (even longer on the bus). Key West itself is very small; if you stick to the options on our lodging guide, you’ll likely be able to walk from your hotel to Seminar and/or Workshop locations, and you can rent a bicycle to explore further. You really don’t need a car.
The Seminar and workshop registration fees each include a $300 “deposit” component and the remainder, known as a “balance.” Deposits must be made at the time of registration. Deposits are fully refundable until June 30, or 60 days from date of registration, whichever is later, but never later than December 1. This is known as the refund deadline. After this date, deposits ($300/person) are strictly nonrefundable, but balance payments may still be refunded, subject to the following terms and exceptions:
Balance payments must be received in full by September 30, or 60 days from date of registration, but never later than December 1. This is known as the balance due deadline. Registrations that are not paid in full on this date may be cancelled at the discretion of KWLS.
Cancellations after the balance due deadline but before December 1 will incur a $50 cancellation fee (per person) in addition to the forfeited deposit.
No refunds will be granted for cancellations after December 1, except in cases of medical emergency or bereavement, at the discretion of KWLS. No refunds will be granted for any reason within two weeks of the start of the event for which you have registered. If you are not eligible for a refund, payments made will be recorded as a tax-deductible contribution to support our scholarship program. You’ll receive a letter to this effect for IRS purposes by the end of the year.
Registrations may not be transferred without express permission of KWLS.
General exceptions to the above (September 2021):
If the seminar or workshop for which you have registered is cancelled for any reason, you will be entitled to a full refund of all registration fees. Refunds will also be provided to anyone who is unable to attend due to travel restrictions or restrictions on group assembly imposed by the U.S. federal government, the government of your home state, the state of Florida, Monroe County, the City of Key West, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, or the World Health Organization, insofar as these restrictions apply to travel to, and/or assembly in, Key West. You will be entitled to a full refund upon request if, within one week of the event start date, you have a fever, a cough, or think you may have a highly contagious disease such as Covid-19/Coronavirus, Flu, Strep Throat, or Norovirus. Anyone who is experiencing symptoms of Covid-19, who tests positive, or who had close contact with someone who has Covid-19 is eligible for a full refund at any time. Anyone exhibiting symptoms of contagious disease is strongly urged to stay home and request a refund. See also our Covid-19 practices, policies, and guidelines.
Pets are not permitted due to facility limitations and concerns about allergies and liability.