More than 120 events planned for Steyning Festival’s busy fortnight

Julia Donaldson. Picture by Stephen Goodger/ S41553H12

Julia Donaldson. Picture by Stephen Goodger/ S41553H12

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Steyning Festival is looking forward to a bumper year this year as the programme of events goes live on its website, www.steyningfestival.co.uk.

Chairman Christine Aubrey and the festival team are delighted at the line-up that has come together for the community celebration, which runs from May 21-June 5.

Among the highlights will be Craig Charles, Steve Knightley, Vince Cable, The Comedy Store Players, Frank Gardner, Alison Weir, Cressida Cowell and Steyning’s very own Julia Donaldson.

Local talent will feature in a production of Bedroom Farce by The Steyning Festival Players and the finals of The Steyning Festival Young Dancer of the Year Competition.

Children will be well catered for with a whole week of activities and events including puppet shows, craft sessions, story times, a toddlers disco and The Grufffalo and friends.

“For the older ones there is SDS acoustic and a silent disco plus the opportunity to try out the new improved portable skate ramps during the Community Fun Day on Bank Holiday Monday.

“This is my third festival as chairman, and I think one of the distinctive things is that we are an entirely-voluntary-run festival.

“We don’t pay anybody to do anything other than to design our programme, and I think that gives us a huge amount of commitment – because people don’t do it unless they are really committed to it. But also we really try to make it fun. It really shouldn’t be a drudge for anybody, and I think it is that personal involvement and that personal commitment that makes it all fun.

“We also try to offer a great mixture of different things. We have a lot of local events, and we try to make sure that quite a lot of events are free so that people can come along even if they have not got a lot of money.

“We work on the basis that people will contribute if they can.”

They also bring in events from outside.

“For the second year running we have got the Comedy Store Players from London. They are expensive, and it feels quite a risk, but people enjoyed them so much that it should be fun and do well.

“We have also got Craig Charles coming. He does a broadcast on Radio 2 these days.”

All this adds up to more than 120 events.

“We started in 2006, and for the first few years, it was every year. For the past three, we have been every other year.

“Everybody is a volunteer, and it was difficult to sustain every year. We don’t lose momentum because of it. I think it works better actually because people really look forward to it. If it is every other year, we can really concentrate on making it really good!

“We are very well supported. We have a Friends of the Festival. We have got well over a hundred Friends, and we are expecting to get some more. It builds up a connection with people. We have got a few events that are for Friends only. On the Friday evening before the festival starts on the Saturday, we have an event for the Friends. We have priority booking for the Friends, and through the Friends it means that we get some income. Also it builds up a loyalty for the festival, which is obviously a good thing.”

Christine added: “The big innovation this year is the Festival Marquee on Cuthman’s Field, which will be a hive of activity from morning to night every day throughout the fortnight. As well as providing us with a venue for many of our events, it will be a place to gather and meet friends over a cup of tea and cake or glass of wine or local beer or even a cocktail or two.”

Visit www.steyningfestival.co.uk to find out more.

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