This year’s Guernsey Literary Festival enjoyed a record attendance of 8,605 over its six days. The figure, which includes more than 2,000 children taking part in its education programme, was 18% up on last year’s event, itself a record.
Festival Director Claire Allen said that she was ‘absolutely delighted’ with the event’s success. “We’ve had so much positive feedback, not just from those who went to the talks and performances, but from the authors themselves. They commented on the warm welcome they received from the Festival team and the excellent organisation of events.”
Over the six days, there were 67 speakers and 84 events organised, including 18 educational talks by authors in schools to 2,283 children. All the events were planned and organised by a team of volunteers.
Writers and expert speakers covered fiction, history, the arts, music, current affairs, business, sport, health, wellbeing, nature, travel and poetry. The Festival – this was the seventh – has become an annual event, one of the highlights of the island’s arts calendar. Some of the visiting authors said that the line-up and diversity of the speakers rivalled some of the most prestigious literary festivals in the UK.
The general events were centred in and around St Peter Port, and varied from 450-strong audiences for Adam Kay and Matt Haig to small writing and acting workshops and discussions for local writers.
As well as Adam Kay, whose event at St James sold out so quickly that he agreed to do an additional performance, and Matt Haig, speakers included internationally-renowned novelist Lionel Shriver, inspiring poet Lemn Sissay, environmental campaigning broadcaster Lucy Siegle, and the Festival’s own honorary chairman Terry Waite.
After the event, Mr Waite said: “Once again the Guernsey Literary Festival has exceeded all expectations. It was a triumph due to the dedication and hard work of all who took part. Up and onwards Guernsey!”
In addition to its large education programme, the Festival organised one talk in the prison and two at the Princess Elizabeth Hospital as part of its community programme.
The Festival’s WriteStuff writing competition for Bailiwick schoolchildren attracted a record number of more than 700 entries from 21 local schools. There was an excellent calibre of entries for the Guernsey International Poetry Competition as well as a new Poems on the Move campaign on Aurigny aircraft.
Claire Allen said that the success of the Festival has spread outside of the island. “Every time a speaker goes back to the UK with positive comments, it’s good for the Festival and it’s good for Guernsey.”
Next year’s festival takes place from 29 April – 4 May 2020.