Arundel Festival once again comes promised as the perfect showcase for the town.
“That’s always the underlying message that we want to get across,” says festival chairman Michael Tu. “It’s a showcase for visitors to sample the town and come back much more often, and it is also reflects the creative side of the town. The town attracts a lot of creative people and this is the focal point of their year. The festival is a real reflection of Arundel.”
The festival launches on August 16 and runs until August 26, a packed celebration of both arts and community. In its 41st year, the festival will offer its now traditional theatre and gallery trails, a host of stage performances and music and entertainment in the streets and by the river Arun. The opening ceremony on Saturday, August 17 with a parade of Celebration Samba will get everyone in the party mood as the town launches its packed programme of events.
“This year sees a relaxed party vibe at Jubilee Gardens hosting an eclectic mix of acts, from home grown talent to pop sensations. Bring a picnic and sit back for this Party by the River to unfold.”
Fun on the river continues with the Dragon Boat Race on Saturday, August 24 for Help the Heroes and the popular annual Duck Race on 26th August at 10am (NOTE DATE CHANGE) which is fundraising for The Sussex Snowdrop Trust.
Michael is also delighted to say that the circus comes to town on Saturday, August 17 and Sunday, August 18– something he can’t remember ever happening in all his years in Arundel.
“The family-run Happy’s Circus company promises plenty of audience participation and international artists featuring aerial net, duo juggling, dancing adagio, hand balancing contortion, double aerial loops and double aerial static trapeze.”
A great mix of events will make Arundel to place to be throughout the third week of August, with the return of plenty of old favourites mingling with plenty of innovation.
Festival chairman Michael Tu is delighted to welcome London-based choir Consort SW1 to the festival alongside festival regulars the Hanover Band for a festival which puts the emphasis on the community.
“There is a new team heading up the gallery trail this year, and they have got some new events plus a new website. And we have also got ballet this year, an American-based ballet company coming to the Jubilee Gardens on Friday, August 23.
“This is a community run festival and it is all about being a focus for the year in Arundel… though it is also an example of the kind of thing that Arundel should do more of. We are in changing times for high streets, and maybe Arundel should be doing more things like this during the year. We bring a street party to Arundel – and lots of fun. The Dragon Boat Race has become a fixture. This is our fourth year, and we have got a record number of entries this year. It is great fun – and a great spectacle on the river.”
Michael is delighted to count on the support of the Castle, though sadly the days of the big Castle concerts are probably over: “I would never say never, but the big concerts were not viable in terms of funding. Those were the days of big corporate budgets.
“But the Castle are putting on the Shakespeare there which is always hugely popular. The Castle supports us in a number of ways.”
Children can also enjoy Festival Fun Days at the Arundel Baptist Church with a Damsels & Dragons theme on Tuesday, August 20 and Fantasy Island adventures on Thursday, August 22.
“The theatre trail organised by the Drip Action Theatre has an exciting line-up of plays across various venues including Arundel Town Hall and the tennis club – theatre for all with great value tickets of £5 or 8 days of plays for £30.
“Arundel Players present We Happy Few and Jetty at the charming Priory Playhouse throughout the week.”
As for the gallery trail, it has the Victoria Institute at the heart of its activities on Tarrant street and will be venue number one.
“This space will be transformed by artist, Julie Turner who is bringing back to life long-abandoned spaces.”
Look out for the secret artist exhibition of 50 different artists at The Vic. These pieces will be auctioned to raise funds for next years’ trail.
“Artists identities will be unknown until after the auction and there will be some famous names in the mix!
“Visitors will be able to explore over 60 venues in the town such as restaurants, shops and residents who open their doors to reveal differing styles and media on show.”
Also coming up, Dramatic Truth Ballet Company, a professional, neoclassical ballet company will wow audiences for the first time at the Arundel Festival with The Book of Esther. The dance company which comprises of dancers from the United States and Europe train in Kansas (www.dramatictruth.org)
“Music will be heard across the whole town, from the river, at Jubilee Gardens, in the Town Square, various pubs and venues and up the High St to St Nicholas Church and Arundel Cathedral.
“Visitors are spoilt for choice with The Hanover Band and Consort SW1. Many live bands will be playing including Harry and The Hounds at the Jailhouse.