LAHORE: The first day of the Sixth edition of Lahore Literary Festival (LLF) began on Saturday at Alhamra halls on Mall Road.

A large number of literati, scholars, students and people from different walks of life turned up at the event. The panel discussions were held in all the halls of Alhamra as well as the art gallery.

All the sessions were held at these venues that were filled to their capacity. Bookstalls had been set up in the lobby of Hall I while the food court selling all kinds of traditional and international dishes. The whole venue of Lahore Arts Council had been tastefully decorated with seating arrangement in the gardens and truly gave the look of a festival.

The topics of discussion were not only interesting but also on most important issues regarding art, culture, politics and attend sessions on a huge range of topics including the ‘Munno Bhai Ki Yaad Mein Jangal Udaas Hai’, Mc Activist, Writing of Nationhood in the age of rage. Many of the sessions drew on the rich collection of Arts & Culture and brought it to life through storytelling and debate.

The festival proved to be a memorable event for more than 10,000 people who attended. With increasing number of visitors every year, LLF now has carved a niche for itself.

The highlights of this year included MC Activist, The Multiple lives of Shoaib Hashmi, Expression of Contemporary China, Sikh Heritage after the raj, Reframing the picture of Asian art, Batwaray ka Mausam Jallundar se Lahore and the power of Woke.

Among the distinguished panelists were Mohsin Hamid, Riz Ahmed, Audrey Truschke, Anne Teller, Esther Freud, Ciler Ilhan, Sabyn Javeri, Amardeep Singh, Irvine Welsh, Osama Siddique, Esther Freud, Jessica Erin Jackley, Arfa Sayeda Zehra, Mohsin Hamid, Nadifa Mohamed, Robert Worth, Ammara Maqsood, Khaled Ahmed, Sunela Jayewardene, Bhavani Fonseka, Ameena Hussein and Maithree Wickramasinghe.

Talking to this scribe, Razi Ahmed, founder and CEO of LLF said: “This year we had a really remarkable turnout of the audience. It is always a pleasure to organize such events in Lahore.

Morning sessions were jam-packed and people were standing outside to attend them. LLF is a platform where people are free to talk about ideas and contentious topics of the day. We are happy that we're back at Alhamra. Last year we didn’t get NOC and had to hold the festival at a different venue.”

“Most of the Indian authors easily came to Pakistan. Special thank to high commissioners and ambassadors for the support. Around 120 speakers are participating this year and 60 percent of the programming has structured around local speakers,” Razi said.

Mattew Vaughan said, “I have been working in Islamabad for last seven years. It is always a pleasure to attend such festivals that are so informative and provide you knowledge,” he said.

Thomas Roueche from London said that LLF is a celebratory exploration of Pakistan’s literary scene. “The festival has engaged students, thinkers, family and people from all walks of life. I did a session titled Art and the Human Condition and the response was remarkable,” Thomas said.

“I really enjoyed the talk of Emmy award winner Riz Ahmed. It was very informative. I’m glad today I came on time and attended this session because the talk was academic and interesting that won the hearts people sitting in the hall. It was an overall well-organised event with several fantastic elements,” Mehreen Jabbar said.