Sensational sight greets visitors to Festival of Flowers

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An army of 230 volunteer flower arrangers from across Sussex have transformed Chichester Cathedral for this year’s Festival of Flowers.

Festival designer Christine Evans has guided, encouraged and inspired them all over the past 18 months and today, all their hard work is being unveiled to the general public.

Festival of Flowers 2016 patron Tim Wonnacott with designer Christine Evans. Picture: Derek Martin DM16120620a

Festival of Flowers 2016 patron Tim Wonnacott with designer Christine Evans. Picture: Derek Martin DM16120620a

Christine said: “It’s thrilling to see everyone’s designs come to life. I had every confidence in the creativity and talent of our arrangers but the reality of seeing their designs with flowers has surpassed all expectations.”

There are 80 ambitious arrangements, some as large as 20ft by 12ft, and 50,000 blooms and trees have been used to interpret the theme of The Artist’s Palette.

Art and artists spanning five centuries are represented, from Dutch masters to impressionists, and the sight and smell as visitors enter the cathedral is simply sensational.

Tim Wonnacott, presenter of the BBC programme Bargain Hunt and long-standing antiques expert, is the patron of the Chichester Festival of Flowers 2016.

“I am an old-fashioned sort of person and the fact that the cathedral requires a massive amount of expenditure each year, I think it something that deserves support,” he said.

“That is why I am happy to come forward and to give so much time as patron. In a way, it raises the profile from what is a feature in the county of Sussex, as I am able to reach outside the county a bit and attract some fresh people.

“If one is able to help at home, I am very happy to do so. I think one should give a little back to the county in which you live where people are very kind and nice.”

He gave a talk on The Goodwood Art Collection at Goodwood House in February to support the festival and thanked all the people who attended, enabling extra money to be generated.

Mr Wonnacott added: “The theme of the festival looks at flowers in art and as a person who is keen on art, and that has been my profession for nigh on 30 years, there is a sort of synergy between what they are trying to achieve with the flowers and art, linking it all together.”

He officially opened the festival at the preview evening yesterday.

“The volunteers are fantastic,” added Mr Wonnacott. “It is quite a herculean task.”

The Festival of Flowers is open at Chichester Cathedral from today until Saturday. It includes a programme of live music, festival market, plant market where visitors can meet the growers of the festival flower Heaven Scent, an exhibition of the best entries from the schools art competition and a sculpture exhibition by Philip Jackson.

Excess flowers can be purchased throughout the festival, culminating in a grand sell off of all the flowers and accessories on Monday outside the cathedral’s west doors.

Tickets for today and tomorrow are £14 for 9.30am to 1pm, £12 for 1pm to 4pm, £10 for 4pm to 7pm. Tickets for Saturday are £12 for 9.30am to 3pm, £8 for 3pm to 6pm.

There is a ticekt office beside the Bell Tower. All proceeds from tickets sales and donations contribute to the specialist restoration of Chichester Cathedral, which is over 900 years old.

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