Penzance? We’ve never been that far west!
It’s true that Penzance is over 300 miles from London, at the end of a long rail journey or tedious drive, and only 10 miles from Land’s End, but when you arrive it’s always worth the trek.
Before it was linked to Pirates by Gilbert and Sullivan, Penzance was renowned as ‘the most southern resort for invalids in winter, and the most interesting summer resort for tourists’.
The 1897 guide to the town tells us that ‘the general climate is so mild that sub-tropical plants bloom in the open almost as freely as if indigenous in the soil’. Unfortunately this winter’s unusual snow and ice caused havoc with many gardens here in the far south west. However, the hard working gardeners in places such as the Morrab Sub-Tropical Gardens, in the centre of town, will have restored the damage of winter by the time July arrives for the LitFest.
Without the chocolate box image of so many other coastal resorts; Penzance retains the grittiness of a working town and port whilst supporting a thriving arts scene. Which other town our size can boast three major public art galleries; Penlee Gallery, The Exchange and the Newlyn Gallery, plus a host of smaller, private galleries and outlets. The Morrab Library, one of the few remaining subscription libraries in the country, is celebrating in bi-centenary this year. The Morrab Library is not only hosting the Festival workshops, but also staging a special Litfest-related exhibition, and fringe events – such as tours with a literary focus a few days before and after the main Festival.
Penzance has a great selection of restaurants, bars and chic hotels all offering fine local food and hospitality, and live music can generally be found somewhere in town every night of the week. Let’s not forget the iconic, art-deco sea water lido, the Jubilee Pool or simply coastal walks to Mousehole or to St Michael’s Mount.
There is also a good rugby team –the Penzance Pirates. Arrrh!
Last but not least, the real ‘Best in the West’ is the annual Penzance Literary Festival –the friendliest litfest in the UK – which again this year will be offering some fifty events, talks, poetry, discussions, workshops and music. Read on to find out more what we have to offer.