Take a peek through the gate & explore the festival site…

Wise Words festival offers a passage into a hidden literary garden,  inspiring wonder and encouraging curiosity in anybody who is lucky enough to stumble  across it.  The heart of the festival lies in Canterbury’s own secret garden – an unexpected haven just a stone’s throw from the hustle and bustle of the high-street. Many of those that have lived in Canterbury their whole lives haven’t yet discovered it’s most beautiful garden. 

How to get there: 

If you are standing on the High Street, next to the ABODE hotel you will see  Stour Street. Walk down there a couple of hundred yards until you come to the Greyfriars B&B. Next to that are two big black wooden doors. It may look like you are walking up someone’s private garden path but do it anyway!


The Secret Garden

This hidden retreat at the heart of the city belongs to the Franciscan Friars and holds the Greyfriars Chapel, the only building now remaining of the first English Franciscan Friary built in 1267, forty three years after the first Friars settled in Canterbury, during the lifetime of St Francis of Assisi. There is something magical about theses gardens – the eels in the river, the way the Robin welcomes you to the site and the fox that comes as close as a dog.

Here we invite you to take a little walk through the space and the venues that we will fill with laughter, thought, poetry and delights.

The Quinn Yurt

Fairy lights beaming through the canvas, excited whispers under the moon, a sharp intake of breath, a squeeze of a hand amongst blankets and cushions on the floor. The poet looks up from the microphone, smiling with their eyes. ‘Thank you for being here tonight’.

The yurt is the heart of the festival, and it is here that we invite you into our inner circle to enjoy poetry, stories, music, talks and late night debates. It is a place of physical comfort and playful intimacy; continually asking its audience to examine ideas larger than themselves and to question why people do the things that we do.

This circle is where many of our writing workshops happen and where some of our biggest named artists come to inspire. Boasting previous performances from Kate Tempest, George The Poet, Sir Andrew Motion, Simon Armitage, Lemn Sissay, Dizraeli, Inua Ellams and many more — the yurt is no stranger to new ideas or experimentation, and is usually the last to go to sleep at night.

The Inglenook

The Inglenook is a close-knit circle of beautiful bell tents, where mischief lingers and imagination sparks.

A place for concerts and puppets and finger-paint art. Where children giggle and wiggle and wear flower garlands as crowns, and dance in a trance as they spin around and around.

This is the place for families and for play; for workshops, shows, relaxed concerts, puppetry, and evening stories told around the fire. On the bank holiday, the Inglenook cordially invites you to its May Day dance.



Cast off the stresses of yesterday and put them on the ground. Cast them away as you would a heavy jumper and feel yourself lighten. Cast off the stresses of last week, a stone too sharp to hold. Throw it into the stream. Put them down, put them down, put them down. Breathe…

Eden is a place for relaxation and renewal; where wildflowers grow and energy is restored. A place of tranquility and calm and a place to replenish — to spread out on the grass and forget ourselves. In our gorgeous Tipi, we offer massage and relaxation – treats to nourish and restore. 


The Banquet Table

Share scrumptious food and literary inspired cocktails around our beautiful Banquet Table — a place to gather with old friends and spark a conversation with some new ones. As dusk falls, bring your guitar, a ukulele or just your favourite songs for music and singing around the fire. There will also be a pop-up stage that will give people a taste of all the literary delights on offer throughout the festival.


The Hideaway

Where will you go? Who will you see? Come quietly this way, and follow me.

Sequestered in the monk’s garden, this is an exclusive space for the most intimate of performances with the biggest names. It’s completely new for the festival this year, offering a hidden space within our Secret Garden.

Wise Words is a festival that attracts some big names. Carol Ann Duffy. Roger McGough. Lemn Sissay. Yet, at our core, we’re a festival that cares about not how many people we can cram into a space, but the quality of the experience for both artist and audience. There is something about a smaller space that encourages a human to human interaction between the artist and the audience that is so often lost as artists get bigger and fill arenas where the audience is nothing more than a bank of bright lights.  

The Hideaway offers this relaxed performance space, giving audiences a rare insight into the person behind the artist. This is a

Tread softly, and keep your passage secret…