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About the Charleston Festival

The Charleston Festival, now in its 29th year, is the home of lively conversation and a search for truth in the spirit of the Bloomsbury group.  The artists Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant made Charleston a meeting place for some of the major creators and thinkers of the first half of the 20th century, including Leonard and Virginia Woolf, John Maynard Keynes, Lytton Strachey, Roger Fry and E.M. Forster.  

In a period of exceptional political and social volatility, expect this Festival to feature heated agenda-setting debates, mirroring the impassioned discussions that took place at Charleston in the past. 

As sexual politics dominate the media, Bloomsbury’s association with feminism has never been more relevant. The Festival welcomes Lubaina Himid, latest winner of the Turner Prize; celebrates the centenary of women receiving the vote; marvels at Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein; admires Ada Lovelace, 19th century computer pioneer; and we are inspired by brave women who took artistic and social risks.

Perpetuating Charleston’s commitment to experimentation, Festival innovations include Ali Smith’s commission in response to Bloomsbury’s Famous Women Dinner Service and  The Man Booker Prize 50th anniversary debate.  Jeanette Winterson’s personal tribute to Virginia Woolf’s Orlando, in the novel’s 90th year, anticipates our autumn programme which includes several events exploring gender fluidity.

We are delighted to announce that the 2018 Charleston-EFG John Maynard Keynes Prize, awarded annually to an individual of exceptional talents across many disciplines, will be presented during the Festival to Sir David Attenborough.

In this exciting year, we are planning the opening of our new galleries, café, visitor facilities and auditorium. Our future activities and aspirations take their inspiration from the Charleston Festival’s record as an artistic, intellectual and meeting place. 

Nathaniel Hepburn, Charleston Director and Chief Executive 

Diana Reich Charleston Festival Artistic Director



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Some Picture Highlights from 2017 Festival – view more

Vanessa Redgrave at Charleston   Charleston Festival 2017 Charleston Festival 2017 Charleston Festival 2017   

What's on

18 May - 28 May
Charleston Festival 2018

Now in its 29th year, the Charleston Festival brings together a remarkable cast of writers, thinkers, More

14 Jun
The Tempest with The Lord Chamberlain's Men

The Lord Chamberlain’s Men, the UK’s premier all male theatre company, invite you to join them More

Vanessa Bell Floristry workshop at Charleston 17 Jul
Vanessa Bell Floristry Workshop with Carlsson and Co.

A day immersed in flowers, inspired by the still life paintings of Vanessa Bell. 

Techno Junk Young Bohemians workshop Charleston 23 Jul
Young Bohemians Summer School

This week of workshops for young artists aged between 8-14 focuses on technique, using inspiration from More

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