Festival Fever

I’m at Bridport Literary Festival as part of the day job – or one of the current day jobs – helping to publicise this annual event.

Taking photos from some of the slots in the week-long festival, I’m able to sit in and listen to the wide array of speakers.

They’re fascinating, knowledgeable, witty, entertaining, sometimes esoteric but, so far, all have been really interesting.

It’s a festival for all tastes. Thrillers, poetry, nature writing, fiction, children’s activities, literary dinners, cookery, music, it’s all here.

I love books and always have done, ever since my older sister baffled me at the age of seven by reading me Don Quixote as a bedtime story. I had little idea of what it was all about but I was hooked. The characters, the story, the landscape, they all fired up my imagination.

I’m a sucker for alternative worlds and what ifs. Impossible dreams are now a part of me, even though they get even more impossible with age.

It’s remarkable that a town like Bridport has so many events to suit all tastes. It’s when I’m speaking to the Mayor of Bridport, Barry Irvine, that the enormity of it sinks in.

Filing out from the Bull Hotel ballroom after a BridLit event this week, he stops for a quick chat.

Bridport has a festival for everything, he tells me. And if it doesn’t, it makes one up.

It’s true. We have the literary festival, the food festival and even a hat festival. There’s a Winter Solstice Festival, the BridLit Fringe and music festivals. Only recently, the town held its first Bridport Mind Festival to celebrate and support mental wellbeing.

So when did this all happen and why? It’s only in the last fifteen years or so that Bridport and the surrounding area seems to have begun sprouting festivals as if from Jack’s beans.

We’ve had the carnival since it was reborn in the 1970s and the increasingly popular torchlight procession. That and the age-old Melplash Show (my favourite event in the West Dorset calendar) seem to attract more and more people each year.

But the whole festival thing has just grown and grown. Like the mayor says, there seems to be a festival for everything.

Is it new people moving in, bringing with them fresh ideas and energy? Is it locals whose enthusiasm has been reignited with the influx of creative incomers? Is it a proactive town council? Or is it just the spirit of Bridport, which has always been here but needs awakening every now and then?

Can the town possibly sustain all these events? Or will there be even more festivals to add to the growing list?

A quick Google search reveals there’s one we haven’t thought of yet. The Festival of Impossible Dreams gets my vote.

For more information about Bridport Literary Festival visit bridlit.com

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