Causley Festival 2024 in Launceston

Image by Derek Harper

In Brief

Name: Causley Festival of Arts and Literature 2024
Date: Friday 28-Saturday 30 June 2024
Type: Cornish arts and literature festival in honour of one of its greatest poets
Suitable for: Poets, poetry enthusiasts and lovers of the written word
Location: All around Launceston, including Launceston Town Hall
Price: Free for most events (although donations to the trust encouraged instead) but some workshops can be around £10



Put simply and without any poetry whatsoever, Charles Causley was one of the 20th century’s most gifted poets. And he came from Launceston. And he adored Cornwall. And there’s a festival that’s both named after and pays tribute to the wordsmith in Launceston in June every year. And we’re all invited!

Okay, let’s try that a little more poetically by quoting Causley, who was both born in Launceston in 1917 and died in the town in 2003, in one of his most famous pieces, ‘By St Thomas Water’:

By St Thomas water,
Where the river is thin
We looked for a jam jar
To catch the quick fish in

St Thomas Water is the River Kensey that floats past Launceston‘s St Thomas Parish Church, where Causley and his mother now rest side-by-side in the churchyard. And on the weekend of the Causley Festival 2024 that begins at 10am on Friday 28 June and doesn’t finish until 5pm on Sunday 30 June 2024, you can take a walk to this idyllic location with a jam jar in hand. But don’t try catching the fish. Instead, take a stroll around the churchyard and then head to one of the talks at this engrossing festival of literature and the arts.

Causley’s work has been labelled ‘simple’ and ‘direct’, however there’s far more going on beneath the surface of his pieces, particularly those that invoke an array of fantastic imagery, such as his works that focus on the wonderful folklore, magic and legends that are sewn into Cornwall’s rich social and historical fabric. He was known throughout the world as a master poet and he garnered many awards over the years. The Causley Festival 2024 takes place in Launceston in his honour.

Actually, it’s now called the Charles Causley Trust Commemorative Festival Weekend 2024, if you’re interested (it’s run by the Charles Causley Trust which works to keep the poet’s memory alive). But we prefer simply the Causley Festival 2024!

However, prepare for a fascinating three days of workshops, pop-up events and talks across town. At the 2023 festival, these were the participating venues: Launceston Town Hall in Western Road, Merchant’s House at 13 High Street, Country Chic in Southgate Street, The Byre at 3 Broad St, Southgate Arch in Southgate, Cyprus Well at 2 Ridgegrove Hill and Buddha’s Kitchen & Lounge in Madford Lane.

Highlights of the weekend in 2023 included the ‘Charles Causley: An Artistic Inspiration’ exhibition at Southgate Arch on the Friday and Saturday, plus the ‘MCMC Spoken Performance Poetry Workshop’ at the Merchant’s House on the Saturday. Of course, there are tons of other events every year across the weekend so click on the ‘website’ link above to get the full programme when it’s published.

The 2023 fest followed a successful Causley Festival 2022, which was held ‘both in person and digital’. That meant that anyone who couldn’t make it along could watch as the events unfolded via the Zoom video conferencing platform. But those who did make it along saw activities that raised both the profile and appreciation of the poet’s works and also promoted writing, poetry, literature and the arts in general, particularly local arts.

There has been a ‘pay-what-you-can’ programme in the past, which means that all of the events, excluding any workshops, are free but visitors are instead encouraged to make donations to the trust, which acquired Causley’s former home in the town, Cypress Well, in 2007. That is now a centre promoting new literature and arts activities.

Expect the Causley Festival 2024 in Launceston to be in equal parts fun, fascinating and impressive. Do check out the full programme when it’s out and then bone up on Causley’s historic and beautifully worded poems. Sometimes we must remember what a wealth of poetic and artistic talent Cornwall has produced over many, many years.