A month-long programme of over two hundred Festival of Chichester events came to a triumphant conclusion on the final Sunday in an inspiring open-air concert in the wonderful grounds of Halnaker Park. Despite rival attractions of the Cricket World Cup and the Wimbledon final, festival goers enjoyed a brilliant session from Amanda Cook on classical guitar, Finlay Wells on Celtic guitar and Meg Hamilton on violin.
Elsewhere the final weekend saw an extra performance of N F Simpson’s absurdist comedies by Chichester Community Theatre at the Penny Royal Open Air Theatre at Bosham, the soaring melodies of Sull’aria by sopranos Tamzin Barnett and Rhiannon Merrifield at Christ Church and Chichester Symphony Orchestra in full swing at St Paul’s. Not to mention Abba’s Angels and the Rolling Tones at the Assembly Room!
It was a fitting conclusion to a fantastic festival – the seventh since it was launched in 2013 to replace the Festivities. This year has seen an eclectic mix of the best of Chichester’s community organisations performing to top standards, supplemented by the visiting stars.
This year we were delighted to welcome international best-selling novelists Victoria Hislop and Louis de Bernières, Oculi Ensemble stopping off en route to the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Russian maestro Victor Ryabchikov, brilliant flamenco guitarist Eduardo Niebla, top jazzers Julian Stringle and Alan Barnes, folk star Pete Coe, the Phoenix Big Band as well as our very own Chichester stars Kate Mosse and Dame Patricia Routledge.
Planning is now underway for 2020. We’ll be back next summer with another scintillating programme of very special festival events.
The picture below shows the statue of John Keats with festival performers Linda Kelsall-Barnett (guitar), Tamzin Barnett (soprano) and Zoe Barnett (guitar) after the Poetry & Music event in Chichester Cathedral where Dame Patricia Routledge read the Odes by Keats.
‘The Festival shop window competition was of an extremely high standard this year,’ says festival co-ordinator Barry Smith. The celebrity judge, James Nesbitt, currently starring in CFT’s This is My Family, and the festival judges together with Chichester BID representative Emily Seex, had a really hard task to choose the winners as there were so many imaginative displays in a record entry.
James Nesbitt’s distinguished CV includes roles in TV’s Cold Feet, the feature film The Hobbit, Bloody Sunday and Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Competition entrants were delighted to welcome James to their shops and show him how they had been inspired by the Festival in putting together their wonderful displays.’
The winner was Drapers Yard/Cloth-Kits; with joint runners-up Cats’ Protection in Crane Street and Hedgerose Florists in The Hornet.
City mayor Richard Plowman and Chichester novelist Kate Mosse launched the festival on Saturday 15 June. Under the dullest of skies, the seventh Festival of Chichester got off to the brightest of possible starts on Saturday afternoon.
Excellent advance ticket sales are suggesting the 2019 Festival of Chichester will be a festival to remember. Organisers are reporting an enthusiastic response to the festival 2019 line-up since its unveiling in April at The Novium which is also the Festival of Chichester’s box office.
It’s fantastic news that James Nesbitt will take time off from his busy CFT schedule starring in This is my Family to judge this year’s Festival of Chichester Shop Window Competition on Friday 14 June.
Accompanied by Festival committee members Anne Scicluna, Susie Lunt and Barry Smith, as well as Chichester BID manager Jeanette Hockley, James will have the task of selecting the best shop window display inspired by the theme of the Festival.
There have been many ideas floated about the future of Chichester and about keeping up its great tradition of independent shops. The big question seems to be about renewal – how to keep a great city alive, accessible to all and full of places and things that people want to see and do.
Linking directly with these questions is the city’s very own Festival of Chichester. For a month every summer, the city and surrounding area resounds with music, drama, talks, exhibitions, tours, films, dance and much more. Backed by the City Council, the Chichester Observer, Henry Adams and other local businesses, the Festival presents over two hundred separate events, bringing thousands of people into the city, spending thousands of pounds in the city’s shops and restaurants.
The key to the way the Festival has taken off is the link between the community and national and indeed international artists and performers. One of the mantras of the Festival is that it is grounded in the community but aspires to the stars.
We’re delighted that local businesses and arts people can work together via the shop window competition to show off the best of Chichester. James Nesbitt and the festival judges will see creativity in action as they go round the competing shops on the day before the Festival launches. It will be a hard choice, but I’m sure it will be the right one!
Any businesses wishing to enter can pick up an entry form from Jeanette at Chichester BID, telephone 01243 773263 or download one here. Forms are to be returned to ChichesterBID.
The 2019 Festival of Chichester promises a four-week celebration of all that’s great and good about Chichester in a programme unveiled yesterday.
Festival chairman Phil Hewitt said: “This will be our seventh festival, and we are thrilled at the programme that we have got lined up for you, a clean sweep of all the brilliant talents that are based in and around Chichester – a line-up so fine that once again it has attracted some very big national and international names to come and join us this summer. Theatre, the spoken word, music in all its forms, cinema, walks, day trips, dance, books and all kinds of shows are all part of the merry mix in yet another very big year for the festival.
A special Gala event in aid of the 2019 Festival of Chichester
Date: Thursday 6 December, 1930
Venue: St John’s Chapel, 5 St John’s St, Chichester PO19 1UR
With film/stage/TV actor Gareth Williams, Ted Hughes Award nominee writer David Swann and the fabulous Jazz Smugglers Band. Enjoy a delightful mix of seasonal readings, mellow jazz classics and complimentary mince pies in this historic, grade 1 listed chapel.
Gareth Williams is featured in Mike Leigh’s new film of Peterloo. As a singer, he had a number 1 smash hit with The Flying Pickets with Only You.
Tickets £12 (students £10) from the Novium/TIC, Tower Street, Chichester, 01243 775888 or viaChichester Box Office.