About Us

Welcome to the 2017 Festival of Chichester. We are proud to present our most exciting and diverse programme yet, a bumper something-for-everyone package which will offer a four-week celebration of the city we are so proud to call our own. It hardly seems possible that this is our fifth Festival of Chichester!

But then again, we have come a long, long way since we held a public meeting in late 2012 to see whether there was any interest in staging a new-look, new-feel festival for the city the following summer. The answer was an emphatic yes.

Since then, we have been delighted to pull together an annual month-long arts and community extravaganza featuring all the performers, writers, artists, thinkers, groups, clubs, associations, choirs and orchestras that make Chichester so rich and vibrant a city.

Our festival has become a true reflection of Chichester’s cultural importance, and we are thrilled that over the years we have also started to entice an increasingly attractive range of artists and performers from further afield, all keen to see just what it is that makes Chichester so special.

The festival is brought to you by a hard-working committee which meets every month to make sure all our plans come together for a golden explosion of feel-good community fun.

But our success heightens everyone’s expectations, and so we are delighted to count once again on the fantastic, enthusiastic support of the Chichester Observer series. We are also privileged to receive funding once again from Chichester City Council, a council which serves the city so well.

And so, once again, let the fun begin!

But in the meantime, please note: we have a new box office this year. Tickets are available from The Novium, Tower Street, Chichester, PO19 1QH; phone 01243 816525 or 775888; website www.thenovium.org/boxoffice; email boxoffice@chichester.gov.uk.

Phil Hewitt, festival chairman, and Barry Smith, festival co-ordinator.

The festival committee is: John Ashley, Anthony Cane, Jill Cook, Felicity Course, Phil Hewitt, Barry Smith, Rebecca Robertson, Anne Scicluna and Helen Watt.

Festival Phoenix from the Ashes

Everyone who cared for the cultural life of the city was devastated when it was announced that the 2012 Chichester Festivities would be the last. Having promoted such a wonderful range of arts-related events over many years, the Festivities had become a Chichester institution. A dreadful gap suddenly loomed in the cultural life of the city.

For some of us, this thought was too much to bear. Chichester is a city of culture boasting national gems like the Festival Theatre and Pallant House Gallery, not to mention the vibrant cultural life associated with the Cathedral. It could not be allowed to happen. Something had to be done – and so it was that at a public meeting held in the Council Chamber that the Festival of Chichester came into being as the natural successor to the late, lamented Festivities.

With the active support of the Chichester Observer, the Cathedral authorities, the city council, the library service and local arts organisations, a voluntary committee set about filling the gap. Serving on this founding committee were Anne Scicluna, the current city mayor, Dr Anthony Cane, chancellor of the cathedral, Phil Hewitt, the chairman, the arts editor of the Observer, Felicity Masters from WSCC library service, Roger Redfarn, a theatre director, Helen Watt from Johnson Press and Barry Smith, director of Chichester Poetry, as festival co-ordinator.

C131699-20 Chi Community AwardsMembers of the festival committee receiving a Community Award for Contribution to the Arts from television presenter Fred Dinenage

A flood of entries for that first 2013 festival ensured there would be continuity and no missing summer, no empty year in the Chichester festival calendar. We even had star names with former poet laureate Sir Andrew Motion, the brilliant Hanover Band and legendary pop icon Geno Washington. It was a bit of a miracle really as the first festival was launched and run entirely on goodwill.

Now, in 2017, we are grateful for the support of our sponsors from the business community, Chichester City Council, Chichester District Council, West Sussex County Council and our key supporter, the Chichester Observer (Johnson Press). The current festival committee comprises Phil Hewitt (chairman), Barry Smith (co-ordinator), Anthony Cane (treasurer), John Ashley (secretary) and members Anne Scicluna, Helen Watt, Rebecca Robertson, Felicity Course and Jill Cook.

What do we have in store for 2017 in our month long celebration of the arts running from 17th June to 16th July? We like to think there will be something for everybody, whatever their age or interests. A quick glance at the event categories gives a sense of the scope: classical music, jazz, blues, folk, rock, pop and light music; spoken word; theatre; art and craft; cinema; walks and tours; food and drink; dance; church events; open days, fetes and sport. With over two hundred events on offer, there is a fantastic choice. We are now one of the largest festivals in the south.

The foundations of the festival rest upon Chichester organisations, but though we are grounded in the community, we are delighted to welcome to the city visiting performers from all over the world, including major orchestras, bands, singers, authors, poets and much more. Have a browse through our listings and we are sure you will find plenty to stimulate and entertain.

The Festival Committee