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Our Festival

Welcome to the Wells Festival of Literature, set up in 1992 to promote the love of books and of reading throughout the community.

The Festival is a registered charity entirely run by a committee of volunteers, and is funded by ticket sales, competition entries and our generous local sponsors and Friends. The first Festival ran for a weekend and has grown ever since. Read how the Festival began.

In 2002 we expanded to a week; we now operate over nine days every October and will celebrate our 30th anniversary in 2022. Our Festival takes place in Cedars Hall, a state-of-the-art performance venue situated in the beautiful grounds of Wells Cathedral School.

Our main objective is to promote the enjoyment and excitement of books and to encourage a love of the written word. We do this by bringing to Wells a wide range of international, national and local writers to entertain, challenge, inspire and inform audiences of all ages and tastes. This extensive selection of events does not pose a dilemma for our audience; unlike many other literary festivals, no two events run at the same time, so it is possible (if ambitious!) to attend every single one.

In 2020 we ran a hybrid Festival with a mix of live and ‘virtual’ events, all of them live-streamed. The formula proved extremely successful and attracted audiences from outside our usual catchment area. In 2021 we also offered a choice, allowing our audiences to attend in person or to watch from home.

In 2022 we will revert to our traditional format, namely to offer live events only. This will of course revive the unique atmosphere of a ‘conversation’ between speaker and audience; it will also allow us to transfer a greater proportion of our surplus to educational projects rather than on streaming/ recording technology. 

This will enable us to build on our active education programme which works closely with local schools to help develop a love of literature from an early age. In addition, we are committed supporters of the literacy charity Coram Beanstalk. And our hugely popular writing competitions attract entries from all over the world.