Persuasion, or Reasons to Visit Bath in September…
Whether you’re a devout adherent, merely curious, partial to dressing up, or an avid reader, the festival offers a rich variety of ways to immerse yourself in all things Austen and Regency. You may wish to dip a polite toe into the period or dive into deep water; whatever your preference, you’ll find something to suit.
This year’s Jane Austen festival is from Friday 8th to Sunday 17th of September, with general tickets going on sale just after midnight on Saturday 3rd June (it’s the week before for Festival Friends, but if you are one, you’ll probably know already). There are parades and processions, workshops for those wishing to learn to dance the Regency way, walking tours, carriage tours, Regency hair demonstrations, soirees, costumed balls, readings, theatrical performances, discussions and, well, more than you might think possible to pack into nine days.
Bath itself is, of course, as congenial and appropriate a setting for all of this as the country can muster, with its beautiful crescents, columns, cobbles and squares. There’s no better backdrop for the festival’s opening Grand Regency Costumed Promenade, in which visitors in period costume line our lovely streets. (2004’s version of this is still the Guinness World Record for the ‘Largest gathering of people dressed in Regency costumes’, although it’s not clear how stiff the competition is for that particular accolade … )
No need to worry, though, if elaborate costumes and hard-to-handle hair are not your thing, you won’t be short of diversions which demand no dressing up. For many, and in spite of all the attractions, the whole point of the Jane Austen Festival remains the fantastic books themselves, in which case there are lectures, talks and tours to feed your curiosity and satisfy your love of the six books Austen wrote which have been such favourites for 200 years.
(And if all this is beginning to sound a bit serious and high-minded, it’s worth remembering that Jane herself valued gossip, frivolity and caustic observations: “For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbours, and laugh at them in our turn?” The festival doesn’t lack events which celebrate – with humour – this aspect of her work too.)
It’s worth bearing in mind that if you’re thinking of visiting for this event, we’re likely to fill up quickly with Austen devotees, and we recommend you making your booking sooner rather than later; rooms at the hotel and restaurant are an unbeatable base from which to explore this event, as well as a beautiful haven to which to retreat …