Sunday, September 24, 2023

Plenty For All At Sixth Belper Arts Festival

The sixth Belper Arts Festival opens on 5 May and runs until 2 June.

In between the opening concert featuring soprano Margaret Keys, Fishpond Choir and Bel Canto (5 May) and an evening of new plays and sketches by Marde Hen Productions ( 31 May to 2 June) is a programme featuring community events organised by and featuring local people.

Traditionally the Festival has featured the Arts Trail ( 6 – 7 May), Woollen Woods (12 May to 20 May) and Belper Open Houses (26 May to 28 May). These are back, bigger and better. Thousands attend the Arts Trail which will feature the biggest music package ever seen in Belper with multiple stages, busk shelters and indoor performances.

Over 120 artists will feature in more than 50 venues including, for the first time, Strutts Centre on Derby Road.

Woollen Woods

Knitted and crocheted animals and creatures will appear as if by magic in the Parks Wood off the Coppice car park. Woollen Woods attracts people of all ages to the enchanting setting where bluebells offer the perfect backdrop. Another outdoor event is Beth’s Poetry Trail Walk taking in the twenty poems around Belper that feature such artists as Spike Milligan, Philip Larkin and Emily Dickinson.

Belper Open Houses is in its 8th year as artists continue to invite visitors to their studios and homes. The art and hospitality is second to none and you may just be offered tea and cake!

The big theatre centre piece this year is Jessica Swales play “Nell Gwynne” which contrasts with director Larry Waller’s last outing, the WW1 play ‘Hamp’. A big cast is supplemented with a string of musicians and an inventive set. “Nell Gwynne” runs from 17th May to 19th May and includes a Saturday matinee.

Fleet Arts and Number 28 (The Market Place) have full programmes ranging through concerts, workshops, comedy and an amazing sound bath. Christ Church hosts Chris Foote Wood who will be performing his one man show, “What The Dickens” and a talk about his sister, the legendary “Victoria Wood”.

Intimate concerts feature Laurie Illingworth & Friends, storytellers Pete Castle & Nicky Rafferty, classical guitarist James Rippingale and the baroque Duo Piccolo E Grande. Workshops are being held for recorders by Belper Recorders Group and a classical guitar workshop is hosted by James Rippingale.

Shine! Is an eight hour extravaganza featuring over 100 children in performance on 20 May at the Strutt Centre. Ages range from 6 to 18 years old and you will have a lively and surprising visit.

Full details of events can be found on the web site Brochures can be found around Belper in the North Mill, Library, Oxfam Books, Number 28, Strutt Centre, Lion Hotel, Christ Church, Perfect Cuppa, Ritz Cinema, Hall Of Frames, St. Peter’s Church, Fleet Arts and St. John’s Chapel.

Event tickets are available from OXFAM BOOKS AND RECORDS, King St., Belper and online

Claire Meese


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