Upcoming Literary Festivals in and Around Cornwall

 Hay Festival

Hay Festival

Jodie has dug out the best of the best that are happening in and around Cornwall this spring/summer - book your tickets before it's too late!


11th – 19th May Fowey Festival of Arts and Literature (Fowey, South Cornwall) 

What’s happening? Inspired by Daphne du Maurier and her works, the du Maurier Festival Society annually runs this arts and literature festival, hosting several talks, workshops as well as performances and walks set in and around the seaside town.

Who’s talking?

Patrick Gale, author of several books and short stories as well as the screenwriter behind The Man in the Orange Shirt (2017).

Julie Summers, writer, historian, actress. Her book, Jambusters, inspired the ITV series Home Fires (2015-16).

Andy Kershaw, British broadcaster and DJ.

John Nettles, actor and writer who starred in long running shows such as Bergerac (1981-91) and Midsomer Murders (1997-present).

What else can I look forward to? There are several music and theatrical performances happening through the festival – Wildwood Kin, The Bookshop Band, and The Story Republicans to name a few. Also, if you’re a Daphne du Maurier fan, visiting Fowey provides the perfect chance to walk in the footsteps of one of Britain beloved literary greats.

What’s the price like? * to **

How do I get there? Fowey can be reached by car, bus and ferry.

Can I volunteer? Sort of – Fowey has the opportunity for people to get involved with publicising and promoting the event in their local area. See here.


12th – 19th May St Ives Literature Festival (St Ives, North West Cornwall)

What’s happening? Plenty of poems, musical performances and book talks in the historical surf town of St Ives.

Who’s talking?

Leslie Tate, author of imaginative biography Heaven’s Rage, recently made into a film.

Gray Lightfoot, Cornish performance poet and bus driver.

Susan Soyinka, a social historian, researcher and writer.

Des Hannigan, travel writer, journalist and photographer for over 30 years. Des has written for publications such as Cornish Times and Lonely Planet.

What else can I look forward to? Exploring St Ives and it’s many pubs, eateries, museums and galleries as well as its famous coastline.

What’s the price like? *

How do I get there? St Ives is easy to get to via rail and road.


24th May – 3rd June Hay Festival (Hay-on-Wye, Brecknockshire, Wales)

What’s happening? Only probably one of the most well-known literary festivals of the year. The Hay Festival receives hundreds of visitors and considering they run over 600 events across the week with top writers and performers from around the world, it’s not hard to imagine why.

Who’s talking?

Margaret Atwood, author of The Handmaid’s Tale, as well as countless other fiction and non-fiction books and collections of poetry.

Philip Pullman, the award-winning writer behind many best-selling books, most recently The Book of Dust.

Hay officially releases their full programme in April so check here soon.

What else can I look forward to? Music performances by Jake Bugg and Les Amazones d’Afrique, and comedy performances by critically acclaimed names such as Shazia Mirza and Dara O’Brien as well as plenty of workshops and events big and small that you can get involved in.

What’s the price like? * to **

How do I get there? Easily accessible and there are shuttle buses running between the station and the site. If you’d like to drive, be sure to book your parking in advance.

Can I volunteer? Yes, here’s the link to sign up for stewarding.


25th – 27th May Bodmin Moor Poetry Festival (Liskeard, South East Cornwall)

What’s happening? Poetry readings, workshops and performances set on the edge of Bodmin Moor.

Who’s talking?

Toby Martinez de las Rivas, an award-winning poet from Somerset with some of his work now published by Faber.

Liz Berry, an award-wining poet from the Black County who often infuses her work with her home dialect.

Zaffar Kunial, an award-winning poet whose work has been published by Faber and by the Poetry Society.

Vahni Capildeo (PhD), a Trinidadian-British poet whose collections of poetry have won awards and has co-editted several books.

What else can I look forward to? Walks around the moor itself, illustration talks, free yoga session and plenty of music.

What’s the price like? *

How do I get there? Easy to get to by rail and road.


31st May – 3rd June The Charles Causley Festival (Launceston, North East Cornwall)

What’s happening? A series of events in celebration of the poet Charles Causley as well as many readings and performances of current and upcoming writers. There will be several talks about Causley and his life and work as well as writing workshops and music performances.

Who’s talking?

Roger McGough, performance poet, broadcaster, children’s writer and playwright. He has appeared on screen and has received several awards – including both an OBE and CBE. He’ll be performing supported by LITTLe MaCHINe.

Adam Marek, an award-winning short story writer.

Martyn Oates, political editor for BBC South West.

Miriam Darlington, lecturer at Plymouth University and author of her new book, Owl Sense.

What else can I look forward to? The festival food and drinks market, guided walks and talks, and music, theatre and film performances. Also, grab the chance to get to the know the county capital of Cornwall, Launceston, and its history from its Norman beginnings to its many listed buildings.

What’s the price like? *

How do I get there? Launceston is accessible by road and is served by train and bus links.


4th – 7th July Penzance Literary Festival (Penzance, West Cornwall)

What’s happening? A celebration of word – written, spoken, sung, performed – across the first weekend in July in the most westerly town in Cornwall. The theme for this year is ‘taking flight’.

Who’s talking? We don’t know yet! PzLitFest will release information for this year’s festival in May on their site, here.

What else can I look forward to? Penzance itself; as an upcoming holiday and arts destination, Penzance is full great places to visits, things to see and do. Also, as well as the main literary fest, each year there are several other events happening as part of the Penzance Fringe – several performances, talks, walks, workshops and stalls to browse.

What’s the price like? *

How do I get there? Easily accessible by road and rail.

Can I volunteer? Yes! For information and contact details, see here.


26th – 29th July Port Elliot Festival (St Germans, East Cornwall)

What’s happening? More than just literary festival, Port Elliot is a celebration of word, craft, cooking, comedy, music, well-being and much more. The whole weekend is set in the beautiful setting of Port Elliot itself, a stately home turned museum encompassing a large house, a church, rolling lawns, a maze and an estuary all within its grounds.

Who’s talking?

Reni Eddo-Lodge, author of the bestselling Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race.

Billy Bragg, sing-songwriter, activist, TV & radio commentator, and author.

Helen Pankhurst, great granddaughter of Emmeline Pankhurst.

Garth Jennings, co-director of several music videos as well as director of films like A Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy (2005) and Sing (2017).

…and many more!

What else can I look forward to? Taking a dip in the Estuary. A huge variety of food (fresh crab linguine anyone?) Boutique camping or plenty of stunning off-site accommodation.

What’s the price like? ***

How do I get there? Plenty of options inc train, car, bus and foot.


31st Aug – 2nd Sept Hastings LitFest (Hastings, East Sussex)

What’s happening? This year marks the first ever run of the Hastings LitFest and will feature plenty of talks on books and writing as well as workshops and

Who’s talking?

Kevin Brooks, author of several YA books including the Bunker diaries. He is also a 2013 Carnegie Medal winner.

Kathryn Evans, public speaker and the first YA author to win the Edinburgh International Book Festival First Book Award.

Sophie Hannah, poet and internationally bestselling crime novelist.

Michael Loveday, writer and the Director of the National Association of Writers in Education.

What else can I look forward to? Films, concerts and plays as well as a chance to meet and network writers and agents.

What’s the price like? **

How do I get there? Easily by rail or road.

Can I volunteer? Sure, check out the information here.


And don't worry, there's plenty to look forward to after the summer too!

19th – 23rd Sept Budleigh Salterton Festival (Budleigh Salterton, East Devon

4th – 7th Oct North Cornwall Book Festival (St Endellion, North Cornwall)

Mid Nov Looe Literary Festival (Looe, South East Cornwall)

22nd – 25th Nov Hay Festival Winter Weekend (Hay-on-Wye, Brecknockshire, Wales)


by Jodie R Reed ©

 Port Eliot Festival

Port Eliot Festival