Plans for the Festival of Chichester 2021

We are looking forward to the 2021 Festival of Chichester, which will run between 12 June and 11 July, and are hoping to be able to return to a lively, eclectic programme of arts events.

It was such a disappointment to be forced to cancel the fantastic plans we had lined up for the 2020 live festival, but we’ve been very pleased with the positive responses to our Virtual Festival, which helped us keep the festival flag flying and stay in touch with our loyal audiences. Now it’s time to start planning for the next festival.

Because of the current uncertainty, the festival committee feels we have to keep our options open to see how the situation develops. We are therefore postponing entries from the usual November to end of January time frame to a month-long entry window in January, which will now be open from 1 to 31 January. We are also developing a new online entry system designed to streamline the process. We will keep you updated with this as work progresses.

This year our usual autumn public meeting will have to be a virtual one. The plan is for a Zoom meeting on Tuesday 17 November, beginning at 7 pm, when we can update you with news of what the plans are for 2021 and of course hear all your helpful feedback, suggestions and advice. This meeting is open to anyone to attend and speak. Please email infochifest@gmail.com if you would like to receive the Zoom link.

If the national situation means we won’t be able to progress to a full live festival in 2021, we’ll be planning for a new kind of online festival, perhaps also including some open-air events or socially distanced gatherings, depending on the rules applicable at the time. We are very grateful for the fantastic support we’ve had from our organisers and audience members. You deserve a great festival and we will do all we can to provide the best festival the times will allow.

Barry Smith
Festival Co-ordinator

John Haynes

A retrospect on the 2020 Virtual Festival of Chichester

The Chichester Singers offered We’ll Meet Again to bring the 2020 Virtual Festival of Chichester to a memorable conclusion.

The real-life festival was forced off the calendar back in March as lockdown took hold.

But the festival organisers refused to be beaten – and came up with a virtual festival instead, with a new event going live each night for the four weeks the festival should have occupied.

Festival chairman Phil Hewitt said: “It felt so important to us that we actually did something, whatever the circumstances. More important than ever, in fact. We have all been through a horrible time, and anything that suggests the normality of more ordinary times was always going to be extremely welcome.

“Our festival co-ordinator Barry Smith did a wonderful job pulling everything together, and James Etheridge and Simon O’Hea on our festival committee did an equally wonderful job letting people know what was happening.

“We have got all the web stats from our virtual festival, and they are certainly impressive. But for me, the crucial thing was simply that we kept the festival flag flying in an impossible year. Even better is the fact we comfortably live to fight another day.

“We owe a huge debt of gratitude to Chichester City Council for looking so kindly on our grant application this year. They have always been amazing in their support of our festival. Their support has always been vital. We can say with certainty that there will be a 2021 Festival of Chichester. So let’s do it for real next year!”

Festival co-ordinator Barry Smith was similarly pleased with the way it all went:
“We’ve had a hugely favourable response to the Virtual Festival of Chichester, with lots of appreciative comments from people who have enjoyed the range of events we’ve been able to make available online.

“It was such a disappointment to be forced to cancel the fantastic plans we had lined up for the 2020 live festival, but it has been a great delight to be able to put together an alternative so that we could keep the festival flag flying and keep in touch with our loyal audiences.

“In a way, this year has been a festival in miniature, with virtual events representing all the genres we normally present, giving people something to enjoy in their homes during these difficult times. As co-ordinator, I’ve been really pleased to offer a menu that has something for everybody, whatever their tastes. It was great to be able to kick off with virtual versions of the launch events which would normally have taken place on Cathedral Green on the opening Saturday – an inspirational talk from Kate Mosse, followed by the lively, toe-tapping sounds of the Stardust Sussex Syncapators jazz band.

“We’ve had a fantastic selection of classical musical events, one of the pillars of the festival, from a candlelit concert of Brahms performed by Ensemble Reza to a series from international pianist Reiko Fujisawa commemorating the 250th anniversary of Beethoven – something we had in store for live events but were still able to enjoy online. Some of our festival regulars stepped up with fine offerings – cellist Ben Rogerson with the Minerva Ensemble presenting Over the Rainbow, All That Malarkey singing a stylish Beach Boys’ Medley and super guitar pieces from Geoff Robb, Rob Johnston and Linda Kelsall-Barnett.

“And we’ve had input from across the globe as the world came to Chichester to celebrate: Russian Romantic piano from Moscow via Victor Ryabchikov, a cello concert from Chartres Cathedral by Emily Burridge and a special online gathering of Greek, Turkish and Cypriot musicians brought together electronically by Pavlos Carvalho for Waves and Bridges.

“Our festival is known for its wide spread of events and we kept that tradition up virtually this year, with a Wildlife Walk from Manhood Peninsular, a talk on humour entitled the Reluctant Teabag, poetry from a Costa Poetry Prize winner, John Haynes and a lockdown drama from Greg Mosse – such a huge range representing the best of local talent alongside visiting stars. And what a way to end, with the Chichester Singers presenting the festival finale with We’ll Meet Again, which we plan to do for the 2021 live Festival of Chichester. Until then, all the events can still be enjoyed online by clicking onto the festival web page.”

Sculpture, Murray, Large as Life: Vincent Gray

#SussexTogether – major new arts festival will unite Sussex East and West

A major new Sussex-wide arts festival will capture the spirit of togetherness which is seeing us through the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic.

The new festival will testify to the “talent, strength, endurance and hopes of the people of Sussex in a difficult year,” organisers say.

The festival has been jointly organised by Festival of Chichester committee member The Reverend Canon Dr Dan Inman and Festival Chairman Dr Phil Hewitt.

Read more here.

The Virtual Festival of Chichester line-up and how to access the events

Here’s how to access the festival events in two easy steps:

1. Go to our virtual festival page.
2. Click on the event you want to attend.

There will be a new event available to stream every day from 7pm. (The exceptions are that there will be an event on Saturday 13 June at 2pm, and live-stream events on Tuesday 16 June at 2.30pm and Wednesday 17 June at 9pm).

Once you have selected your event to stream, you will be taken to either a pre-recorded event (specially recorded for the festival) or to a live link where you will be able to watch the event live. 

All events will be available on the website to view once they have been released until at least the end of the festival, and probably longer – this depends on what each performer wishes.

Enjoyed an event? We’d love to hear from you. Why not post a review on Facebook, send us a tweet or post a picture on Instagram and tag us in it! Alternatively drop us an email. You can find all our social media links at the top of the page.

Here is the line-up:

WEEK 1
Fri 12 June – Introducing the Virtual Festival of Chichester: Kate Mosse
Sat 13 June – Festival Launch: The Stardust Sussex Syncapators
Sun 14 June – Ensemble Reza: a Candlelit Concert
Mon 15 June – Cathedral Virtual Pilgrimage
Mon 15 June – Greg Mosse: The Same Next Day
Tues 16 June – Virtually Vintage Afternoon: Dawn Gracie & Brenda
Wed 17 June – Chichester Cabaret Club: Dawn Gracie & Guests
Thurs 18 June – Bach Two-Part Invention: Ben Rogerson
Fri 19 June – Once Upon a time in Greece…live from Kings Place: Plastikes Karekles

WEEK 2
Sat 20 June – St. Richard Quiz set by Chichester Cathedral
Sun 21 June – “Andiamo” solo concert from Chartres Cathedral
Mon 22 June – Sculpture of Captain Tom Moore by Vincent Gray
Mon 22 June – Theatre Quiz from Chichester Community Theatre
Tues 23 June – Classical Guitar: Linda Kelsall-Barnett
Wed 24 June – The Gadfly: Ben Rogerson and the Minerva Ensemble
Thurs 25 June – Poetry Time: Costa Poetry Prize winner John Haynes
Thurs 25 June – Poetry & Jazz: Barry Smith with the Charlotte Glasson Trio
Fri 26 June – Classical Cabaret: All That Malarkey

WEEK 3
Sat 27 June – Are We Angels: Tobiah
Sun 28 June – Beethoven – Pianist, Prophet, Dreamer: Reiko Fujisawa
Sun 28 June – St Paul’s Church Heritage Festival highlighting the history of the church, its musical heritage and the contributions made by local men and women.
Mon 29 June –The Music of Trees: Geoff Robb, guitar
Mon 29 June – Introduction to Wetlands and Wildlife: Manhood Wildlife and Heritage Group
Tues 30 June – Somewhere Over the Rainbow (cellos): Ben Rogerson and the Minerva Ensemble
Wed 1 July – Chichester Cathedral Choristers: three works
Thurs 2 July – The Seasons, Tchaikovsky: Victor Ryabchikov (piano)
Thurs 2 July – Catherine Barnes: pictures in the porch
Fri 3 July – Waves and Bridges: Pavlos Carvalho & Friends

WEEK 4
Sat 4 July – The Story of Love in the Harbour: Danielle Morgan & Ensemble
Sun 5 July – Beethoven – Pianist, Prophet, Dreamer: Reiko Fujisawa
Mon 6 July – Sketches of Spain Flamenco Show: Duende Flamenco (dance)
Mon 6 July – The Reluctant Teabag: Sandra Saer
Tues 7 July – In the Beautiful City: Rob Johnston (guitar)
Wed 8 July – Sculpture, Murray, Large as Life: Vincent Gray
Wed 8 July: Phil Hewitt: Running through trauma – living with the aftermath of knife crime
Thurs 9 July – Celebrating Cuban Music: The Latin Bridge (Amici Concerts)
Fri 10 July – The Rose Recital: Tamzin Barnett (soprano)                                                              
Sat 11 July – Bach Solo Cello Suite No. 3: Pavlos Carvalho
Sun 12 July – We’ll Meet Again: The Chichester Singers

Ensemble Reza


The Virtual Festival of Chichester is set to launch on 13 June 2020

Here’s the line-up and instructions on how to access the festival.

The Festival of Chichester is set to go online this summer with a Virtual Festival to replace live events because of the restrictions imposed by the virus pandemic. The idea came about through some regular performers contacting us to enquire about the possibility of going online and offering their support. The festival committee was keen to plug the gap in Chichester’s cultural life created by the cancellation of the festival and so many other special occasions which are normally part of the rich variety of entertainment that the city has to offer.

And so the Virtual Festival was born – to replace what would have been the eighth festival. Many of the performers scheduled to take part had pre-existing videos they could offer while others have created specials just for us. One performer, Dawn Gracie, who has been with us since the beginning, is presenting two live-streamed cabaret events. Others are coming to us from Chichester Cathedral, from our twin city, Chartres, from Kings Place in London and elsewhere.

A number of the star performers due to be in the festival have also chipped in. We’re delighted to have magnificent piano pieces from Russian maestro Victor Ryabchikov and Reiko Fujisawa, while Ensemble Reza is presenting a wonderful performance of the Brahms Sextet. The contributions come from across the genres we usually present – blues, jazz and folk music, classical concerts, poetry readings, sculpture, art views and even a field recording of wildlife.

We like to think our special festival is grounded in the community but also presents the lustre of visiting stars and this is just as true of our virtual festival as it has been of the previous seven live festivals. We hope you enjoy these performances and will be clicking on our website every day to see what is new, as well as looking back over events already available online. And we plan to be back next year with an outstanding festival to mark the return of live performance to the city.

Come back to this website on Saturday 13 June from 9 am!

Barry Smith
Festival Co-ordinator

Image: Sussex Syncopators

The great bond of friendship between Cathedral and Festival of Chichester

Chichester Cathedral Chancellor Daniel Inman joined the Festival of Chichester committee – for a festival which was forced off the calendar, along with countless other arts, sporting and community events when the coronavirus crisis hit.

The Festival of Chichester quickly vowed to be back again next year, all the stronger, and Zoom meetings are already under way as the festival committee starts to ponder 2021.

Here Daniel shares his thoughts about the festival that never was; looks forward to happier times next year; and reflects on the close bond which has always existed between the Festival and the Cathedral.

Read more at https://www.chichester.co.uk/whats-on/arts-and-entertainment/great-bond-friendship-between-cathedral-and-festival-chichester-2848570

A fantastic festival that never was – and hope for 2021

Festival co-ordinator Barry Smith said: “The Festival of Chichester has very quickly achieved a vital place in the cultural life of the city. It hardly seems possible that seven years have elapsed since a group of us formed the new festival to fill the gaping void of the loss of the Chichester Festivities.

Read more in the Chichester Observer.

Barry Smith with Patricia Routledge

The 2020 Festival has been cancelled

After an emergency meeting today about the current virus pandemic, the Festival Chairman and Trustees have issued the following statement.

It’s been the hardest possible decision, but in some ways the easiest. We had no choice: with the heaviest hearts we are cancelling this year’s Festival of Chichester.

You won’t be surprised. It has been an absolutely awful few weeks, and there is every indication it is going to get worse. The health and safety of everyone has to be our paramount consideration. It always has been. A festival this summer wouldn’t just be impossible; it would also be inappropriate.

2020 would have been our eighth Festival and we had a remarkable line-up for you – a wonderful programme that will now never see the light of day, and that is a tragedy. The wider picture in the world is utterly miserable at the moment, and of course, we absolutely must take the wider perspective, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t still feel very sad indeed that 2020 will be the year Chichester doesn’t have a summer festival.

Fortunately, we are in a relatively sound position financially; we have always been careful and it seems we might well see the benefits of that. It means that we can look forward to the 2021 festival with a degree of confidence. We are going to make it happen. Rest assured of that.

But at the same time, bringing this year’s festival to this point has still incurred significant costs.

Therefore, if you are a supporter of Festival events, we would ask you if you would possibly consider a voluntary contribution to next year’s Festival, a donation to the bigger cause of ensuring our survival. We would be immeasurably grateful – and you could be helping us hugely bring you an even better Festival in happier times next year. If you wish, please send your contribution as a cheque made payable to Festival of Chichester, to our Treasurer, Nick Sutherland, at Holly House, Chestnut Avenue, Chichester, PO19 5QE.

Alternatively you can make a transfer to our account, Festival of Chichester, sort code 20-45-45, account number 23868052. Mark the payment with the reference “Donation”.

Obviously, our box office launch at the Novium on April 1 has now been cancelled.

Let’s all look after each other in the meantime; let’s all get each other through this; let’s fix the 2021 Festival of Chichester on our collective horizons as a ray of hope the other side of the tough, tough months we are all going to go through.

Stay safe and all our very best wishes

Phil Hewitt, festival chairman; Barry Smith, festival co-ordinator; Festival trustees and committee