RUNNING a literary festival is both an exhausting and exhilarating experience. Over the last six days, we’ve welcomed almost 50 authors to Salisbury, which involves a good deal of organisation and logistics (one year it would be lovely to run a festival when there aren’t engineering works on the trains).

A surprising number of them had never visited the city before. Out of our headliners, Val McDermid and Matt Haig had never been, while Jonathan Coe only had a hazy recollection of coming as a small child. It was instructive of outside perceptions of Salisbury reading some of the social media comments around their visit: lots of tweets from fans making jokes about not touching door knobs and telling them to stay safe. Some of the authors, too, spoke to me about being nervous before coming.

But what they came and saw they loved. Val McDermid, replying to another author who’d also never visited, wrote of the city: ‘As well as the glamour of the Cathedral Close, friends introduced me to a fine pub with good beer, and I found a lovely clothes shop – bought two tops and a pair of trousers. Really, it’s the perfect place to visit.’ (If anyone from the tourist board is reading, there’s your next campaign right there).

Salisbury looks good in the sunshine and we were fortunate for the second year running to have amazing weather. I took a literary walk around the city first thing in the morning, with the mists slowly lifting around the cathedral spire: a truly beautiful sight. As I ran from venue to venue there felt a real buzz around town (though that might also have been partly what the men in lederhosen had been drinking at Oktoberfest).

This column isn’t long enough to mention the many highlights of the festival. But one moment that particularly struck me was going from a sold-out event about Thomas Hardy at Salisbury Library to the Bookstagrammer’s Brunch at @Home. Organised by Salisbury’s Emily Fordham (@busymamabookclub), bookstagrammers are people posting and sharing their love of new books on Instagram: this was the first time they’d all met up together. Going from the Thomas Hardy event to their brunch was like time-travelling from literary past to publishing future.

Hopefully, these authors and bookstagrammers and others who travelled to the festival will go back and spread the word about the city: for all the official campaigns and rebranding, that sort of individual word of mouth is invaluable. So for all the brilliant people who supported the literary festival – and particularly the festival team and amazing volunteers who made it possible – thank you for playing your part. Maybe we’ll do it all again next year?