A CROWD of 300 is a pretty good turnout for any event, but when that event begins at 5.30am and that crowd have to turf out of their beds and forgo a bank holiday lie-in, that’s something else entirely.

It speaks volumes that so many people packed into Lawn Woods for yesterday’s very early morning launch of the 2014 Festival of Literature, not least that this annual event has become one of the most highly-anticipated, exciting things our town now has in its calendar.

It’s impossible to please all of the people all of the time, and some of the talks and presentations taking place over the next fortnight won’t be to everyone’s tastes.

But whether your passion is for history, science, current affairs or poetry – or even if you are too young to know what any of these words means – there’s an event to enthrall, delight or stimulate the brain cells. Where else would you find children’s author Jacqueline Wilson and mathematician Alex Bellos on the same bill?

The fact that the festival is now in its 21st year is down almost entirely to its director Matt Holland and his endless enthusiasm, and to see him at the dawn chorus yesterday comes as no surprise. This man works tirelessly to make this annual event a success and will pop up to support every date in its calendar, be it very early in the morning or very, very late at night.

So do him the honour of browing the website swindonfestivalofliterature.co.uk and getting involved, even if only to see what all the fuss is about.

Trust us – the festival is well worth getting out of bed for.