Penzance Literary Festival 2019


It is with some trepidation that I admit that I have never been to a literary festival before. As an English Literature and Creative Writing student, you may expect that I eagerly search out this sort of gathering on the hunt for similar intellects and aspiring minds, seeking out new and interesting authors and what they have to offer. The reluctant truth is that I’m more of the stay-in-bed-reading-a-good-book type of reader than the extrovert festival goer.

Friday the 5th was the day I set out to change this and to indulge in all things literary. The weather couldn’t have been more perfect with crystalline blue skies broken up only by the occasional jetstream as planes flew overhead. Penzance comes alive in the heat of summer, bringing both locals and tourists out of their winter nests and into the town centre, where ingeniously the festival is hosted. The festival itself ran over the 3rd to the 6th July, allowing most people interested an opportunity to experience at least one or two items on the agenda. The festival celebrated a decade of its existence this year and began with Founding Chair Peter Levin who thanked the many volunteers and writers who take part.

The one thing that I was most impressed by was not only the warm welcome the volunteer staff extended to me on arrival, but their calm and polite handling of even the most difficult of customers. The epicentre of the festival was the Acorn box office, where many workshops and presentations were held. Here you could buy tickets for various events if you hadn’t ahead of time. Surrounding businesses such as ‘The Honey Pot’ were sharing in the celebratory mood of the festival, offering 15% discount to ticket holders, bringing about a symbiotic relationship between local business and the festival and helping the high street thrive. The festival felt like a community affair, with multiple shops embracing the event, celebrating it in window displays, with staff eager to help those who may be a little lost, trying to locate venues participating in the event.

It is clear from the festival programme that there is a little something offered for everyone, no matter your cultural or literary tastes. From poetry, such as presented by Kate Clanchy, to Booker prize winning novelists, such as Alan Hollinghurst, you are sure to find something, or someone, to inspire you. Both local writers and performers, as well as those from further afield are celebrated and given a stage during the festival. The best part is, should you have your fill, there are so many other things to do around town – from walking the cobbled streets and buying fresh fruit and veg, to heading down to the Exchange building to peruse some of the local art on offer. A full day’s (or more) worth of entertainment, for very reasonable prices.

All in all, the Penzance Literary Festival is something I have been missing out on, and plan to take some friends along to in 2020, and I really think you should too.

by Trilby Morgan