1. Festival No. 6, Portmeirion, Wales
Billed as a festival ‘unlike any other’, Festival No. 6 has built up both critical acclaim and a substantial fan base. Attracting stage heavyweights such as Goldie, Charlotte Church and the Flaming Lips means that this event can rub shoulders with top, mainstream music festivals. Indeed The Pet Shop Boys said of their previous performance: ‘That was undoubtedly a career highlight…’, and The Guardian’s review judged it to rival Montreaux for sophistication. Set on the undeniably-idyllic Welsh coast in a town purposefully designed to emulate Mediterranean architecture, this arts festival provides a feast for both the eyes and ears.
Thanks to Bangor University’s collaboration with The Guardian and the festival’s own academy, creative classes and lectures are delivered apace… From Bob Dylan delivering a 6-minute lecture, to Millie Nice (Tate, The Wallace Collection, Ben Uri Gallery, Secret Cinema) teaching you how to illustrate; from Will Young lecturing on ‘The Art of Listening’, to Kevin Allen (Director) talking about the making of ‘Tin Town’ (‘Twin Town’s long-awaited sequel), there is something for everyone. Added to this, families will be pleased to know that ‘Colourful Craft’ will curate fun and creative activities for the kids (giant dream catchers, neon clay models, tent decorations), so the little ones will be kept busy, too – and that’s before you consider the watersports and spa provision!
2. St Ives Arts Festival, Cornwall
With links to famous sculptor Barbara Hepworth – heightened by her stunning body of work’s residency there – it is no surprise that St. Ives curates a notable arts festival. Established over 40 years ago, this 15-day event showcases the big 4: music, theatre, poetry and film. The collaboration of so many local arts venues is really what sets this festival apart, however. Barnoon Workshop cover lino printing; there’s Plasticine sculpture at Chalet No. 17; the nature of clay at Leach Pottery; painting and printmaking workshops at The Mariners and Crypt Gallery; and pit-firing ceramics on Porthmeor Beach. 24 amateur and professional studios will be opening their doors to the public during the fortnight, as well as 17 gallery exhibitions.
Of course, the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Gardens will be open throughout the festival, and will host an exclusive live music event on 14th September. The St Ives School of Painting will also deliver an eclectic mix of art classes, one of which covers Hepworth’s own approach to form and purpose.
Reviews from previous festival-goers include: ‘love the diversity and number of events that happen each day – can’t fault the operation’, and, ‘best programme of events I’ve seen in years’. Don’t miss it!
3. Royston Arts Festival, Herts
Set to coincide with the Royston Kite Festival, this year’s Herts offering will also include a Community Arts event, Film Festival, MusicFest, competitions set by the Royston Fringe, as well as the more usual art exhibitions, workshops and family activities. The organisers warn that many pre-festival events will occur this year and to look out for details on their website.
The organisers also make a shout-out to would-be volunteers to get in touch. With so much going on this year, willing helpers are no doubt valuable. Art Today particularly looks forward to the 7, homespun gallery exhibitions on offer (think local artists, schools, quilters, fringe and photography), added to which Henrietta Ward from The Fitzwilliam Museum will present a talk on Rubens’ sketching techniques.
The theme for this year’s Arts Festival will be ‘Changes’. More details can be found in their online event programme:- https://issuu.com/thelisting/docs/1709_royton_arts_festival_programme.
4. Freedom Festival, Hull
Proffering a stunningly vibrant arts festival to match its UK City of Culture status, Hull has pulled out all the stops in 2017 to hammer home its creative kudos. Everything is extra about this event. The carnival has drawn not just local but international performers, a guerrilla folk opera supersedes the generic, singular performances of either genre, and the provision of a Hull University science tent overshadows regular children’s activities. This is a festival with bells on.
Art Today particularly recommends:-
- ’14-18 NOW Present Fashion and Freedom’ – Until Mon 4th Sept, Princes Quay. See designs by Vivienne Westwood, Roksanda Ilincic and J JS Lee backed by a series of short films detailing the fashion legacy of WW1 and its impact on feminism.
- ‘The Complete Beyond Words Exhibition’ – 1st to 30th Sept, WISE High St Building. Collaborative event showcasing resident artists Helen Cammock and Hannah Dawn Henderson, plus Ruth Ewan and Lubaina Himid, alongside 10 multi-media artists and associated publications under the Beyond Words umbrella. (In association with Book Works.).
- ‘Art Celebrating Equality’ – Until 2nd Sept, The Warren. Radical, new arts event curated by The Warren Can Do Youth Project. Young people’s workshops including: photographic images, digital illustrations, performance and poetry will be featured in the Speak Out Tent and projected onto The Warren Building.
5. Rye Arts Festival, E. Sussex
‘The time has come, the walrus said…’. According to Alice in ‘Through The Looking Glass’ as well as Rye Arts Festival, September is the time for a rather high-brow and seasoned creative festival. From a lecture from the Rt Hon Kenneth Clarke (!) on his 50 years in politics, to an ‘Orchestral Concert’ by The English Concert Orchestra, this quaint, seaside setting curates a programme to suit the English gentleman – now in its 46th year!
Hildegard Pax (glassworks) and Rhoda K Baker (paper) will showcase exhibitions at Rye Art Gallery from 16th September until early October, which have already been included in the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition (et al). Local artists Louis Turpin and Davida Smith will also exhibit there, plus a number of other local creatives (the New Road Artists) can be viewed at the Rye Creative Centre. ‘A History of Rye Pottery Through The Ages’ (Rye Castle Museum) and a photographic exhibition (Rye and District Camera Club) add to the artistic menu, and can be viewed on certain dates during the festival.
Add to that ‘La Boheme’ performed by Euphonia Studio at the Milligan Theatre; a ticketed 3-course Italian meal at The Tuscan Kitchen with Mapp and Lucia anecdotes by Guy Fraser-Sampson; and acoustic blues and ragtime guitar provided by Ari Eisinger with Blue John & Dr Phil, and you have the thinker’s calm, considered and collected answer to UK arts festival provision.
[Credits: Feature photo courtesy of rye art gallery (‘Channel Crossing’ by Mick Rooney, c. 1983); festivalnumber6.com; stivesseptemberfestival.co.uk; creativeroyston.org; freedomfestival.co.uk; ryeartsfestival.co.uk]