Keen followers of the Queen of Crime, Agatha Christie, may want to head down to Torquay during the third week in September to attend the annual Agatha Christie Festival. The diverse programme of this Literary Crime Festival with a vintage twist is sure to thrill any true Christie fan.
The festival lasts for one week and is jam-packed full of events which show why Agatha Christie is commonly regarded as the number one author in this genre. Torquay is the town where Agatha was born and many of the settings of her murder mysteries are in the surrounding area.
However, the Agatha Christie Festival has a more general interest and is fast becoming known as one of the leading literary festivals in the UK. Of course, the talks and readings by leading crime authors and special guests tend to lean towards the genre of crime fiction, along with the excellent supporting events.
What's on at the Agatha Christie Festival?
The festival always starts on the Sunday with a fÃªte which is held on Torquay sea front. There are fairground rides with numerous stalls, the stall holders dressing up in costumes from the 1920â€²s, Punch and Judy shows give the children an insight into what entertainment was really like in Agatha's heyday, but this is just a small taste of what's in store for the rest of the week.
Most events are held at Torre Abbey including a talk by author Sophie Hannah who will be talking about her newly launched Poirot novel, the Monogram Murders. As well as the Hub events there are also many Fringe events throughout Festival Week.
Climb aboard the Riviera Belle Dining Train for a fabulous evening of murder mystery complete with excellent cuisine or join in the character lunch on nearby Burgh Island. Tickets are available for the Princess Theatre production of Black Coffee or join Agatha Christie's grandson Mathew Prichard for a talk that is sure to give an insight into Britain's leading crime writer.
Talks, readings, tea dances, vintage sightseeing bus rides, children's detective trail and events at Greenway House, Agatha Christie's home, make this a truly wonderful celebration of Christie's life and legacy. Don't be surprised to see Poirot on hand at some of the events, which is always a good opportunity for a photo!
Follow in Agatha Christie's footsteps around Torquay
In Torquay there is what is commonly known as the Agatha Christie Mile and this area really comes alive during the week of the Agatha Christie Festival. Where better to get a taste of the life of the greatest crime writer the world has ever known?
The best place to start would have to be the world famous Grand Hotel on Torquay seafront. This is where Agatha spent her honeymoon as well as many other memorable occasions. It's a great place to pop in for a drink and a bite to eat at any time. The view from the lounge over Torbay is quite spectacular and after all of these years there is still an air of exclusivity about the hotel, which makes you feel like you are dining in style.
Hercule Poirot at Torre Abbey
A short walk along the sea front takes you to Torre Abbey where David Suchet, aka Hercule Poirot, opened the recent restoration and this is where Agatha Christie's Potent Plants Garden can be viewed.
A further stroll will bring you to the Strand, which was a favourite place for Agatha Christie and her family when it came to shopping. The department store of the time, William and Cox, is now known as Hooper's. If you are still feeling peckish after the earlier refreshments at the Grand Hotel, what could be better than a cream tea in the café at Hooper's? It has stunning views over the harbour, making it a wonderful place to spend an hour or two watching the world go by.
Finally, around the corner from Hooper's and a short walk up Torwood Street there is Torquay Museum where a superb Agatha Christie exhibition is on display, a real eye opener which just goes to show how successful the Queen of Crime writing really was.
Do you know of any other celebrations held around the world for famous writers? Are they as well remembered as Agatha Christie is on the English Riviera?