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Developer(s)Centre for Speech Technology Research (CSTR) of the University of Edinburgh
Initial releaseOctober 12, 2004; 17 years ago (2004-10-12)
Stable release
2.5.1 / July 6, 2020; 17 months ago (2020-07-06)
Repositoryhttps://github.com /festvox/festival
Written inC++
Operating systemCross-platform
TypeSpeech synthesizer
LicenseSpecial license similar to the MIT Software License

Festival is a text to speech engine developed by the British at the Centre for Speech Technology Research (CSTR) division at the University of Edinburgh. It sounds very robot-like. The speech it creates is understandable but it is not anything remotely close human-sounding. It works, and it can be used for text to speech, but it is not the best free software alternative.


The basic festival software is typically available as package named festival but the optional voice packages tend to be named festvox-{voice} (festvox-clb-arctic-hts, festvox-kal-diphone, etc).

Voice files are placed in /usr/share/festival/voices/us/

Basic Use

Festival can say anything piped to it as long as the -tts option:

echo 'hello' | festival --tts

You can pipe files to festival and have them read:

echo "Hello world" > example.txt
festival --tts < example.txt

Festival can be configured by creating a $HOME/.festivalrc configuration file.

Festival will create a incriminating text file called $HOME/.festival_history with every command sent to it.

Festival is one of many programs that can be used with the Linux speech-dispatcher daemon. Programs like Kmouth will use Festival for text-to-speech if speech-dispatcher is configured to use it (Festival not the default on any GNU/Linux distribution we are aware of).

Audio Quality

The text to speech output generated by Festival does not sound very natural, it is very robot-like. It is understandable. It's just not very human-sounding and it is not very impressive compared to commercial solution and it is not as good as the free software mimic alternative.

echo 'Hello, this is a test of the emergency broadcasting system' | festival --tts


Free Text To Speech Synthesis Software
Program rating example voice
Sad hyemi2.jpgSad hyemi2.jpg default
Kim.Se-jeong.confused.jpgKim.Se-jeong.confused.jpgKim.Se-jeong.confused.jpg default
1.3 (2005)
Frustrated stallman cropped.jpg default
Hyuna-approves.jpgHyuna-approves.jpgHyuna-approves.jpgHyuna-approves.jpg ab

See Text to Speech synthesis software for a indepth comparison of free text to speech software.

See also

  • Mimic, another text to speech synthesis tool.
  • Kmouth, a KDE program where you can type text and have it read out loud.


The Festival homepage is at www.cstr.ed.ac.uk /projects/festival/. The source code repository is at github.com /festvox/festival.

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