Syrie James at the Jane Austen Festival in Bath


I had the thrill of a lifetime participating in the Jane Austen Festival this month in Bath, England. It is the largest and longest-running Jane Austen Festival in the world and draws many thousands of people every year. The festivities started off on Saturday Sept. 9 with a Regency Costumed Promenade through the streets of Bath, with 800 participants led by the Master of Ceremonies/town crier, the Color Guard, and a troop of uniformed soldiers and drummers. Here I am with the Master of Ceremonies himself!


My tour group


This was my fourth visit to Bath, and my first to the Jane Austen Festival (a long-cherished dream) — the last stop in a fabulous 16 day small group tour of Wales and medieval towns and cities of England including many 13th century castles, gardens, manor homes, museums, churches, cathedrals, and more (there was lots of high tea and a regal dinner with entertainment at the Clifton Assembly Rooms in Bristol)! The tour was created and led by the amazing Bonny Wise (center above, in the white pelisse and bonnet). Most of our tour members dressed up and participated in the Jane Austen Festival promenade — here are a few of them.


Crowds before the parade


costumed crowd before the promenade




Before the promenade, the crowd milled and gathered and everyone delighted in the sight of so many participants in Regency attire.


Syrie and Silvana


I had the great good fortune to meet the lovely Silvana Casetta, a high school English teacher from Italy and lover of All Things Austen, who contacted me when she read my novel The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen. She thought at first that it had been written by Jane Austen herself. How flattering is that!


Uniformed officers before the parade


Officers line up



I got there early enough to chat with the uniformed officers, many of whom have done this parade time and again for years. It was one of the hottest days of the year (an unusual 86 degrees Farenheit) and I felt for all the soldiers in their wool coats!



With a flourish and the beating of drums, the promenade began.


Syrie at the front of the parade


I was invited to walk just behind the soldiers, at the front of the parade, on the arm of a handsome officer!


Syrie in parade


marchers in promenade


Costume parade - more


Musicians in the parade


Friends in the parade


What a marvelous time we all had taking part in this spectacle.


Assembly Rooms


The promenade ended at the Bath Assembly Rooms (Jane Austen herself attended balls there), which hosted the Festival Fayre.



Festival Merch


festival merch on sale


Regency hats


Since I was one of the first marchers in the promenade, I arrived early at the Festival Fayre and got a good look at all the merchandise on offer.




I coveted this bonnet, which would have matched my gown perfectly. Now I wish I had bought it!


Crush of buyers at the Festival Fayre


Soon, the rooms were filled with a crush of eager buyers. Time to move on!


Dancers in the assembly rooms


Dancers put on a charming show at the Assembly Rooms ballroom.


Syrie at Royal Crescent


I spent the rest of the day strolling around Bath, admiring its stunning architecture. Here I am at the Royal Crescent.


Pultney Bridge and River Avon


Bath’s Pultney Bridge, which is lined with shops, above the River Avon.


Bath Abbey


The Bath Abbey.


Sally Lunns


Sally Lunn’s Eating House, famous for its Bath buns.


Victoria Park


The gardens in Victoria Park, where I stopped at a nearby cafe for lunch and a cool drink.





All across England, I noticed that shopkeepers and restaurants are festooning their doorways with pretty garlands of artificial flowers. Here are just a few that I noticed in Bath.


Q&A at Waterstone's bookstore



On Sunday, Sept. 10, I participated in a lively Q&A as part of the festival’s Author Symposium at Waterstone’s bookstore, where I discussed my 3 Austen-related novels: The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen, The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen, and Jane Austen’s First Love.


Syrie and Sandra


That afternoon I had lunch with my dear English friend Sandra (AKA author Cass Grafton) who drove all the way down from Yorkshire (a 4.5 hour drive) to attend my Q&A and spend time with me. I am still stunned and honored that she went to such effort to join me in Bath. We’ve known each other virtually for ten years, and what a delight it was to finally meet in person! Cass/Sandra has a book coming out this week, “New Dreams at Polkerran Point” that I know you’ll love! Read my review here.


tour group ladies in Regency garb


Tea at the Pump Room


My tour group and I had tea at the Pump Room. Fun and delicious!


Bonny WIse


Our tour leader, Bonny Wise, proudly displays the antique parasol she bought at the Festival Fayre.


Sonja and Lane


syrie tries the bath water


Sonja and Lane Strathearn and I tried the Bath waters. Not quite so delicious! (I didn’t dress up again that day because I’d just done my author talk.)




For my final festival event, I attended a delightful concert presentation of songs by vocalist Angela Milton from stage adaptations of Jane Austen’s ‘Sense and Sensibility’, ‘Emma’ and ‘Pride and Prejudice.’

I spent three days in Bath on this visit but the Jane Austen Festival lasted a total of ten days, with a host of fun activities and several balls. If you are an Austen fan, I highly recommend it.

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If you wish you’d seen the promenade, I will leave you with this: a YouTube video of the entire thing. You can see me marching along at the front, right after the men in red coats!




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  1. Linda Donnelly on September 20, 2023 at 1:24 pm

    Lovely and so glad you had this time in Bath. We ate at Sally Lunn the last time we were there. Love you

    • Syrie James on September 20, 2023 at 6:39 pm

      Bath is an extraordinary city and I brought back lovely memories. Love you back!

  2. Susan James on September 20, 2023 at 3:07 pm

    Looks like a lovely time!

  3. Syrie James on September 20, 2023 at 6:39 pm

    It was the best! I wish you’d been there to experience it with me!

  4. Sharon Thorstad Campos on September 21, 2023 at 8:55 am

    Syrie dearie, I’m so thrilled you had the thrill of a lifetime in Bath! Thank you for putting together this splendid display and commentary to share with all of us experiencing your thrills vicariously!

    I’ll chat with you soon for further updates:)

    • Syrie James on September 21, 2023 at 11:14 am

      I’m glad you enjoyed the photos. It was a wonderful trip, and this was just a small part of it!

  5. Gloria Horner on September 22, 2023 at 3:22 am

    Impressive!!!!! Now wishing I’d done that piece of the tour! What an amazing experience! Loved watching the promenade of all the people in their full regalia. So glad we met and spent time together!

    • Syrie James on September 22, 2023 at 9:40 am

      It was such fun meeting you on the tour and traipsing around Wales and all those castles and wonderful medieval towns in England! I, too, wish you’d stayed on for the Bristol/Bath extension. I have fond memories of our dinner together in Manchester. You are such an intrepid and resourceful traveler. I hope we get to do it again some day!

  6. Donna Rose on October 29, 2023 at 1:07 pm

    What wonderful memories you made at the Jane Austen Festival in Bath! I was lucky to have attended some years ago and it was like being in a dream! Bath is one of my favorite places in the world- so elegant and filled with literary bliss! I can’t wait to go back.

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