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Towel Day 2023: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy fans celebrate Douglas Adams

Douglas Adams is celebrated annually on May 25 (Getty Images)
Douglas Adams is celebrated annually on May 25 (Getty Images)

Towel Day is a day dedicated to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy author Douglas Adams.

Celebrated today on May 25 each year, it is a chance for fans to come together and pay tribute.

But why is a towel symbolic of The Hitchhiker’s Guide, and why do fans celebrate Adams on this day?

Who was Douglas Adams?

Douglas Adams was born on March 11, 1952, in Cambridge, England. He was a comic writer best known for writing The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series of comic sci-fi books, which are based on his original radio plays, but also wrote for the BBC, and iconic series such as Monty Python and Doctor Who.

The author was also a keen environmentalist.

He died of a heart attack aged 49 on May 11, 2001, in California.

When is Towel Day?

Towel Day has been celebrated annually since May 25, 2001, exactly two weeks after Douglas Adams died.

Fans have commemorated Adams every year since his death (Tolga Akmen / AFP via Getty Images)
Fans have commemorated Adams every year since his death (Tolga Akmen / AFP via Getty Images)

What is Towel Day?

Towel Day celebrates The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy author Douglas Adams.

Fans chose to carry a towel as a tribute to Adams because, according to The Hitchhiker’s Guide, it is “just about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can carry”.

Not only is a towel practical — “you can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta,” for example — but it also has “immense psychological value”.

The guide says that a non-hitchhiker will think “that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is, is clearly a man to be reckoned with.”

How do fans celebrate Towel Day?

Fans of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy will celebrate today by carrying around a towel. They will share photos of themselves with their towels on social media with the hashtag #TowelDay.

Fans may also share their favourite quotes on social media, or spend time re-reading the novels or rewatching the series or film.

Towel Day tributes

In 2018, Stephen Fry tweeted “Happy #TowelDay world, galaxy and cosmos,” and in 2019, he said: “Happy #TowelDay one and all... Today we remember and thank the universe for the gift of Douglas Noel Adams 1952-2001, a great friend, a great man.”

In 2016, the Royal Institution sent a towel with the phrase “Don’t Panic” to astronaut Tim Peake aboard the ISS, referencing the words on the cover of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy that character Ford Prefect carries with him, and is also the title of a book on Douglas and the series.

Stephen Mangan said in 2016: “In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move. #TowelDay.”