Picture this: one o’clock at night, me in my hotel bed near Meadfoot Beach, Torquay, sitting straight up, heart pounding, ready to go find a baseball bat (which was, of course, nowhere in sight).
Well, why, you might ask?
Hm, you see, I had forgotten I’m not quite the heroic type. Some may call me a bit of a wimp. And some lady on the street was screaming as if her head was about to be chopped off. And it so happened to be that I was in Agatha Christie’s hometown Torquay. During the Agatha Christie Festival. And I had by that time also been enjoying murder movies, murder walks, murder plays as well as Miss Marple & co. on the telly for days – I mean, come on, why wouldn’t I assume a woman’s head was about to be chopped off?
The next morning at breakfast, however, it was business as usual. None of the other guests seemed quite as concerned about the potentially decapitated lady as I was.
“O, that. Yes, that happens”.
Always keeping their cool, those Brits…
I was only mildly reassured by this, but went along enjoying the rest of the festival nonetheless.
Here are 5 resons why you should too:
5 reasons to visit to Torquay’s Agatha Christie Festival
1. Torquay will be full of people dressed up like this:
And you could be one of them.
foto David Ayres/argentem via Flickr
2. Open Air Cinema at Torre Abbey
Nothing beats seeing one of your favourite Agatha Christie movies in a romantic and at the same time mysterious garden. In my case, this was Murder on the Orient Express (1974) at Torre Abbey.
Pack a blanket (it can get rather chilly at night) and a bottle of wine and you’re all set. Just make sure not to walk back to your hotel alone…
3. Guided walks through the gardens at Torre Abbey
O, yes, a garden party to die for! These walks are incredibly useful if you want to know more about poisonous plants and their different types of use. You never know when that kind of knowledge will come in handy. 😉
Torre Abbey itself is also worth a visit: the building dates back to 1196 (!) and currently houses a museum and an art gallery.
4. Plays and Murder Mystery Dinners
Torquay’s cute and not-too-big Princess Theatre is slightly old-fashioned, which makes it all the more charming. My pro tip: go see the afternoon show and take a sunset stroll on the pier afterwards, so that you’re back just in time to unleash your inner Miss Marple or Poirot and find a killer at a murder mystery dinner.
5. Museum exhibitions, lectures, and, of course, books
The Torquay Museum pays the city’s hero tribute on her birthday (15 September). Of course it does. As do all the bookstores, so prepare for mystery exhibitions, lectures about Agatha Christie’s life & work and special book sales. You might even find a special edition (or even a first edition) waiting for you, so bring a large suitcase.
Bonus reason: Basil Fawlty does not know what he is talking about, Torquay is wonderful
Torquay’s reputation may be that of a rather dull town, but in reality, it’s absolutely lovely. The Gleneagles Hotel that inspired Fawlty Towers no longer exists, but trust me, Torquay is the perfect destination for your next holiday. Dream of seaside walks (some great sections of the South West Coast Path to explore), mystery themed excursions, vintage markets, mystery concerts, reading in the park, scones (lots and lots of scones), art in Torre Abbey, and a stroll through Cockington. O, and usually* better weather than in the rest of the UK – the region is called the English Riviera for a reason.
(* Do note that I said usually. Should the weather be too wet for your liking, you may want to consider travelling further south and visiting Guernsey.)
By the way, before you go, do prepare yourself and read this practical guide: Your guide to not getting murdered in a quaint English village. You know, just in case. 😉
Visit International Agatha Christie Festival 2021
Where: Torquay, Devon
When: 11-18 September 2021 (always in the week of the 15th, Christie’s birthday)
(Depending on the covid situation, the festival may take place online, like it did in 2020.)
More info: International Agatha Christie festival
Looking for a nice place to sleep in Torquay? I absolutely loved Meadfoot Bay, very close to the beach!