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About Us


Penshurst Festival


Penshurst Festival was set up to provide a weekend of arts activities and entertainment for the region around the historic village of Penshurst in Kent. It focuses on literature and music and takes place annually in October. Sadly the Festival in October 2020 has been cancelled due to the effects of Covid19. The next Festival will take place in October 2021. 

The Festival includes The Sir Philip Sidney Poetry Prize, inaugurated during the 2019 Festival. Results of the 2020 competition will be announced on 11 October

The Festival is run by the Friends of Penshurst Church and is supported by a range of partners and donors to whom we are sincerely grateful. 

Tunbridge Wells International Music Festival

Tunbridge Wells International Music Festival

Penshurst Place amp Gardens

Penshurst Place & Gardens

Sevenoaks Bookshop

Sevenoaks Bookshop

Prison Reading Groups

Prison Reading Groups


We would also like to thank the generous donors who helped to fund the setting up of the festival in its first year and have promised their support for its second year in 2021. They are listed at Support Us.


Charity Partner


Penshurst Festival is proud to support and raise awareness of the work of PRISON READING GROUPS (PRG), part of the charity Give a Book, which organises 51 voluntary reading groups in 39 prisons. PRG also helps parents in prison to keep in touch with their children by supporting Family Visit Days and other family reading initiatives.   

Find out more about Prison Reading Groups at


Who's Who


David Lough

Chair, Artistic Director

Author (No More Champagne, Darling Winston) , Trustee, FOPC


Helen Winning

Festival Director

Former CEO, Hastings International Music Festival, Trustee, FOPC


Stephen Hazell Smith


Former asset management CEO, Chairman of Trustees – FOPC


Ben Thomas


General Manager, Penshurst Place & Gardens


James Lee


Former CEO, Goldcrest Films; Chairman, Bureau of Investigative Journalism


Alastair Briggs


Former accountant and banker


Friends of Penshurst Church


The Friends of Penshurst Church is a registered charity which aims to raise funds to maintain, repair, protect, restore, improve and reconstruct the fabric of St John the Baptist Church, Penshurst for the benefit of the public.