Arundel Festival celebrates 40 years at the heart of the community with a special programme for 2018.
Running from Saturday, August 18-Monday, August 27, the festival is promising a cultural showcase of visual arts, theatre, music, street performance and more.
Arundel Festival chairman Michael Tu is delighted at the programme which has come together: “The 40th year was always going to be an important year, and we will make reference to it throughout, but we have decided that Bank Holiday Monday will be a 70s party day. We are trying to find out what people wore in the 1970s at our very first festival, and we will have cars from that era as well.”
It’s a landmark anniversary: “I haven’t been involved all that time, but the key thing is that it has always been a festival with the community very much at the core of it. The festival has taken many forms over the years and has grown in particular ways but it has always been about the community.”
The big castle concerts of the past are a fond memory, but were expensive to put on: “I am not sure we can go back to that, but never say never, and I would like to think that we can do more at the castle.”
But in the meantime, a wide range of venues will be helping the town celebrate.
Venues include everything from a front room in a tiny cottage to the Roman Catholic Cathedral and from galleries and roads to public parks, gardens and the River Arun.
Over the two weekends, the town centre roads will be closed to traffic so they, too, can become one huge performance space. Michael is promising a time when the streets literally come alive with music, street performers, street food and stalls. To mark the anniversary, the festival committee has refreshed the programme with many of the acts appearing at the festival for the first time. Adding to the fun is the fact that it is actually a double anniversary, with the Arundel Gallery Trail, the largest and oldest walking trail in the UK, celebrating its 30th birthday. It will show the work of more than 400 artists.
“This is my second year as chairman and fourth year being involved,” Michael says. “I was mayor four years ago when the new committee was needed. I helped form the new committee and we have taken things from there. “The committee is the umbrella organisation for the festival. Our key task if to co-ordinate and promote. We are a small group of volunteers who help all the other organisations put on their events.
“There is a lot of preparatory work and then a lot of hard work now, but we do it because we love Arundel, because Arundel is such a special place.”
The Duchess of Norfolk will officially open the Festival, accompanied by opera singer Jane Clarity and the children’s’ choirs from Arundel C of E and St Philips RC Schools. Free entry still prevails for the ten-day programme of contemporary music at Jubilee Gardens. A strong theatre programme is provided by Drip Action Theatre and Arundel Players, and the festival welcomes Illyria Theatre Co for the first time with the big Shakespearean production, The Merchant of Venice against the stunning backdrop of the castle grounds.
Another newcomer to the festival is wine critic Oz Clarke who joins forces with the Armonico Consort at the Town Hall on Thursday, August 23 at 7pm for an evening of wine and music.
There will also be a range of street theatre across the two weekends. The festival will also see dragon boat racing, and there is still time to enter.