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Our Festival

Welcome to the Wells Festival of Literature, set up in 1992 to celebrate the written word and to encourage the love of books.

The chief objective of the Festival is to promote the enjoyment and excitement of books by introducing a wide range of writers from an even wider range of disciplines to share their expertise – and their passion. Novelists, historians, clerics; artists, scientists, journalists; politicians, poets, professors – all rejoice in the power of words and the fact that the Wells Festival takes that message into the community, way beyond Cedars Hall, to help instil the love of literature in the next generation by working with local schools and colleges.

Cedars Hall Grounds

WFL is a registered charity entirely run by a committee of volunteers, and funded by ticket sales, competition entries and generous local sponsors and Friends. It’s thanks to this support that we can help fund all manner of local educational projects one of which is the now traditional series of talks to Year Six pupils (more than 850 of them in 2023!) by a best-selling author. Not only is the event funded by WFL. Children are also provided with subsidised books.

The Festival has come a long way since 1992, growing from a weekend in the Bishop’s Palace to a nine-day extravaganza in Cedars Hall, a state-of-the-art performance venue situated in the beautiful grounds of Wells Cathedral School. Unlike many other festivals, no two events run at the same time. So it is possible (if ambitious!) to attend them all, as several devotees proved in 2023. That included – in a brand new departure – taking part in our first Literary Quiz. This exciting break with tradition, kindly hosted by the White Hart, was an immediate success and tickets were snapped up. This year we have moved to a larger venue in the Swan Hotel for the Quiz event. First come, first served!

2023 Fully Packed Audience

Throughout its history the Festival has continued to adapt and grow. In 2020 we ran a hybrid Festival with a mix of live and ‘virtual’ events, all of them live-streamed. In 2021 we also offered a choice, allowing our audiences to attend in person or to watch from home. We have now, however, returned to our traditional format and offer live events only. This popular format allows us to transfer a greater proportion of our surplus to educational projects than to technology! 

Find out more about our active education programme, Read how the Festival began, or take a look at our writing competitions which attract entries from all over the world.

There’s something for everyone at the Wells Festival of Literature.