Victor Hugo in Guernsey Festival

The Channel Islands Heritage Festival celebrates a group of small islands with a big history.

Taking place from Friday 25 March to Tuesday 10 May, the 2016 festival will honour the Islands’ timeless relationship with their coastline and the sea, as well as celebrate the 150th anniversary of the publication of Victor Hugo’s Toilers of the Sea, with the Victor Hugo in Guernsey Festival from 2 –10 April.

The world-famous novel was inspired and set in Guernsey where Hugo spent 15 years in exile from 1855 and 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.

Here’s our pick of the top things to do during the Victor Hugo in Guernsey Festival

(For more details, visit:

VH Festival logo

  1. Exhibition of Cartoons of Victor Hugo

2 – 16 April (closed 3 April)

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.

Time: 9.00-17.00

Price: FREE admission

  1. Hugo’s Banquet des Enfants

3 April

Join 200 other guests at a six course lunch at Guernsey Markets Building, replicating meals given by Hugo to poor children at his home, Hauteville House and featuring live performances of music and drama.

Time: From Midday

Price: FREE admission. £5 for each meal served will go to children’s charities.

Venue: Inner Street, Guernsey Markets Building, St Peter Port

  1. Seminars and lectures from Hugo experts

2, 4, 6, 7 April

Learn about the life and works of Victor Hugo from leading authorities on the life and works of Victor Hugo over a series of seminars and lectures. 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.

Times, prices and venues vary, check

  1. Summer opening of Hauteville House

    Victor Hugo

    Victor Hugo

2 April – 27 September

Visit the beautiful house where Victor Hugo lived during his time in exile on the island, which opens for the summer during the Victor Hugo in Guernsey Festival. Hauteville House was where he penned many of his most well-known novels, including Toilers of the Sea.

Time: 10.00 – 16.00; Tours of Hauteville house take one hour in maximum groups of 10, starting at 10:00, 10:20, 10:40, 11:00, 11:20, 11:40, 12:00, 12:30, 13:00, 13:30, 14:00, 14:20, 14:40, 15:00, 15:20, 15:40. Open daily, except Wednesday.

Price: £7

Venue: Hauteville House, Hauteville, St Peter Port

  1. The Soul of the Sea – Live performance

4 April

Enjoy a 40 minute performance by local actors of Magnus Buchanan’s tribute to Toilers of the Sea and featuring projections of Charlie’s paintings. 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.

Time: 19.30-22.00

Price: £10

Venue: Princess Royal Performing Arts Centre, St Peter Port

  1. In the footsteps of Hugo

2 – 10 April

During the eight day festival, there will be a full programme of walks and bus or taxi tours with daily departures to Hugo’s favourite spots on the island and that inspired many of the settings in his novels.

Times, prices and venues vary, check

Candie Gardens - Guernsey Museum

Candie Gardens – Guernsey Museum

  1. Victor Hugo’s Guernsey coach tour

3, 7, 17, 28 April, 1 May

Discover Guernsey through Victor Hugo’s eyes on a three hour coach tour taking in sights such as Hugo’s historic home Hauteville House, Les Hanois rocks and Lighthouse, the fishing village of Portelet that inspired Toilers, Hugo’s Private Island and the Victor Hugo statue in Candie Gardens.

Time: 14.00-17.00

Price: £19.50

Meeting place: Coach bay, behind the Liberation Monument, St Peter Port

  1. Victor Hugo concert

2 April

Come and watch a very special Victor Hugo Concert featuring the international Canadian pianist, singer and songwriter Alain Lecompte and the leading Guernsey choir, Bel Canto, at St James Concert Hall in St Peter Port.

Time: 19.30-22.00

Price: £12

Venue: St James Concert Hall, St Peter Port

  1. Hugo’s Guernsey exhibition

1 – 10 April

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

Time: 09.30-15.00

Price: FREE admission

Venue: The Priaulx Library, St Peter Port

For more information about these events and other events happening during the Channel Island Heritage Festival visit

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Mother of three grown-up daughters I am the ultimate multi-tasker and am passionate about my role as Silversurfers Website Editor and Social Media Manager. Always on the lookout for all things that will interest and entertain our community. Fueling fun for the young at heart!

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