Get ready for the Arundel Festival!

The Arundel Festival committee
The Arundel Festival committee

Arundel Festival 2017 is promising a “ten-day street party” bringing the whole community together when it gets under way this weekend.

Festival organisers say they have lined up a “fantastic” programme of arts, music, entertainments and fun events designed to offer something for everyone, running from August 19-28

For ten days venues throughout the town will be buzzing with all kinds of activities, including ever-popular favourites such as the gallery and theatre trails and street entertainers, as well as the spectacular dragon boat race.

Festival chairman Michael Tu is delighted with the programme for this year’s late-summer arts and community extravaganza in his first year in charge. It is the third for the new committee which came in to start the festival afresh.

“The best thing about it is that it is a real community event,” Michael says, “covering such a wide range of arts and theatre and entertainments. We have expanded it into some vintage events at the weekends.”

It’s a remarkable programme for a town which punches above its weight, Michael says: “People forget that the population of Arundel is only about 3,500. You meet people that have heard of Arundel and they think it must be something like 10-20,000, but it is not. It is just that Arundel has got such a big profile across the county and across the country.”

As ever, the festival is built around the constants, including the ever-popular Arundel Gallery Trail and the well-established theatre trail, a chance to see eight plays a day over eight days. There will also be a festival production from Drip Action Theatre Company who are this year staging a Tom Stoppard, plus a run from the Arundel Players who are offering Chess: The Musical. There will also be a busy programme of Words and Music in Private Houses, plus events, as usual, in the Arundel Jailhouse.

“These are the things that we have built up over the years, but there are also more recent things too. The Jubilee Gardens music has become a focal point of the festival, and there is a lovely atmosphere there every day that’s open. We did the Dragon Race last year for the first time, and it was hugely popular. We are looking forward to doing that again.”

Street theatre will also be central. During both weekends and on Bank Holiday Monday the streets of the town will be alive with jugglers, singers, stilt walkers, magicians, bands, Morris dancers and many other talented artists who entertain the visitors in style.

New for this year is Arundel’s Got Talent!, open to young people aged eight-16 who can sing a song or perform an instrumental piece. The winner gets the opportunity to record and mix any song in a professional recording studio. The competition itself will take place during the acoustic hour in Jubilee Gardens during the Arundel Festival with the preliminary round on Sunday, August 20, 11am-12 noon with the grand final on Saturday, August 26 from 2-3.30pm.

There will also be Shakespeare at the Castle – two nights of al-fresco Shakespeare on August 25 and 26 as the finale of the Arundel Festival with GB Theatre Company performing A Midsummer Night’s Dream in the Collector Earl’s Garden.

The Castle is this year celebrating the 950th anniversary of its initial construction.

Castle manager Bryan McDonald said: “Set in Arundel Castle’s enchanting gardens, which are alive with thousands of colourful blooms, these shows offer theatre lovers an experience like no other.

“A highlight of the annual Arundel Festival, Shakespeare in the Collector Earl’s Garden is now in its eighth year, with talented actors travelling from across the country to take to the specially-crafted stage in front of the aptly-titled Oberon’s Palace.

“We are delighted to be a part of the Arundel Festival once again this year. The Festival celebrates all that makes Arundel such a wonderful town – for both its residents and our visitors.

“Shakespeare in the Collector Earl’s Garden is an opportunity to see a skilled troupe of thespians performing one of The Bard’s most-loved plays in a truly idyllic setting. For regular theatre goers, our shows offer a twist on the traditional and for those who may be experiencing Shakespeare for the first time, it’s a magical introduction.”

“To cap-off the spectacular summer experience, ticketholders are invited to enjoy a picnic in the Castle grounds ahead of the performance, providing a rare opportunity to bask in the beauty of Arundel Castle at dusk.”

Tickets are priced from £16 for children and £26 for adults and can be purchased in person from Arundel Castle or online at www.arundelcastle.org.

Tickets and times: 5.30pm Castle grounds open; 6.30pm The Collector Earl’s Garden gates open; 7.30pm performances start. Running time: two hours with 30 min interval.

For more details of all the Festival events from August 19-28, visit the website www.arundelfestival.co.uk.

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