Festival to celebrate Victor Hugo’s Guernsey exile

Tickets are now available for events at the first Victor Hugo in Guernsey Festival which takes place on the Channel Island of Guernsey from 2 to 10 April. 

The view from Victor Hugo's Guernsey hideaway,
The view from Victor Hugo’s Guernsey hideaway,

The festival celebrates the 150th anniversary of the publication of Toilers of the Sea, Victor Hugo’s world-famous novel that was inspired and set in Guernsey where he spent 15 years in exile from 1855. The festival will explore some of the historic events that influenced the book and celebrate Victor Hugo’s life and works.

Exhibitions, paintings, talks, walks, films, performances, photographs and a one-day seminar from four world experts on Victor Hugo, his life and works, will all feature over the eight days, taking place at Guernsey landmarks, Hugo’s favourite haunts, and places that provided the inspiration for Toilers of the Sea 150 years ago.

The Victor Hugo in Guernsey Festival is part of the wider Channel Island’s Heritage Festival 2016 (25 March – 10 May) which this year takes a maritime focus, celebrating Guernsey, Jersey, Alderney, Herm and Sark’s relationship with their coastline and their seas.

Top things to do during the Victor Hugo in Guernsey Festival:

  1.  Exhibition of Cartoons of Victor Hugo

2 – 16 April (closed 3 April), 9.00 – 17.00
An exhibition of the caricatures of Victor Hugo published in the satirical press of his time will be on display throughout the festival in Guernsey’s capital of St Peter Port. The number of caricatures doubled during his years of exile on the island to reflect all the works written over that period. Original caricatures will be exhibited at the Archive Centre for one week, while enlargements will be on show for two weeks at Inner Street Market. Admission is free.

Hugo’s Banquet des Enfants

3 April

A six course lunch for 200 guests at Guernsey Market Buildings, replicating meals given by Victor Hugo to poor children at his home, Hauteville House, and will include live performances of music and drama.

  1. Seminars and lectures from Hugo experts

 

2, 4, 6, 7 April

A series of seminars and lectures from leading authorities on the life and works of Victor Hugo will delve into the writer’s inspiration, influences and legacies. Events include ‘The Life of Victor Hugo in Exile’, a day-long seminar and Q&A session with four of the world’s most acknowledged experts on the French writer, a lecture by the designer of commemorative ‘Travailleurs’ stamps, a talk by the instigator of the Folio publication of the novel, and a WEA Maritime Heritage Series Lecture on Hugo’s relationship with the sea, shipping, fisherman and sailors. Tickets range from free (for ‘The Art of Hugo’ lecture on 6 April) to £20 (for ‘Travailleurs, Creating the Stamps’ lecture lunch on £20).

Summer opening of Hauteville House

2 April – 27 September
Tours of the beautiful house where Victor Hugo lived during his time in exile on the island will be available during the house’s summer opening from 2 April. Hauteville House was where he penned many of his most well-known novels, including Toilers of the Sea. Tours are daily throughout the Victor Hugo in Guernsey Festival and priced from £6 per person.

The Soul of the Sea – Live Performance

4 April, 19.30 – 22.00

A 40 minute performance by local actors of Magnus Buchanan’s tribute to Toilers of the Sea and featuring projections of Charlie’s paintings will take place at the Princess Royal Centre for Performing Arts in St Peter Port. The Festival Director, Dr. Gregory Stevens Cox MBE, will also give a talk on the relationship of the novel to local events at the time. Tickets are £10.

In the Footsteps of Hugo

2 – 10 April, two hour tours depart daily at 10.00 and 14.00.

During the eight day festival, there will be a series of guided walks with experts to Hugo’s favourite spots on the island and that inspired many of the settings in both Toilers of the Sea and Les Misérables. The walks are priced at £8 per person.

Victor Hugo concert

2 April, 19.30 – 22.30

Quebecois singer, songwriter and performer, Alain Lecompte, will lead a musical homage to Victor Hugo with excerpts from his highly acclaimed ‘Hugo Live’ concert. ‘Hugo Live’ has been performed all over the world by Lecompte, and he will be joined in Guernsey by local choral ensemble, Bel Canto, at St James Concert Hall in St Peter Port. Tickets are £10 for adults and £5 for students.

Hugo’s Guernsey exhibition

1 – 10 April, 9.30 – 15.00

Throughout the Channel Island’s Heritage Festival, St Peter Port’s Priaulx Library will have a free exhibition of photographs and objects associated with the period of Hugo’s exile on the island.

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