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Our Festival

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

The Festival is also known for its work with local schools and colleges: we are a registered charity entirely run by a committee of volunteers, and 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 the Festival expanded to a week and now runs over nine days – in Cedars Hall, a state-of-the-art performance venue situated in the beautiful grounds of Wells Cathedral School.

The chief objective of the Festival has always been to promote the enjoyment and excitement of books and to encourage a love of the written word. We do this by bringing to Wells an impressive range of international, national and local writers to entertain, challenge, inspire and inform audiences of all ages and tastes. Unlike at many other festivals, no two events run at the same time. So it is possible (if ambitious!) to attend every single one. And that includes – in a departure for 2023 – a specially compiled Literary Quiz. This exciting break with tradition is kindly being hosted by the White Hart.

Throughout its 31-year 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.

In 2022, however, we returned to our traditional format and now offer live events only. This has revived the unique atmosphere of a ‘conversation’ between speaker and audience and, perhaps more significantly, allows us to transfer a greater proportion of our surplus to educational projects technology! 

Sold out events in 2022

The huge success of our 30th Anniversary 2022 Festival 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 continue to support the literacy charity Coram Beanstalk. And our hugely popular writing competitions attract entries from all over the world.