Steyning Festival 2018 gets underway

Dozens turned out for the launch of the art trail which will form part of Steyning Festival
Dozens turned out for the launch of the art trail which will form part of Steyning Festival

The eighth Steyning Festival got underway on Saturday morning (May 26) with a community parade through the town.

The two week festival will see thousands of spectators descend on Steyning for a whole host of events ranging from literary talks to live music.

The Big Top, located in Cuthman's Field, will operate as a hub throughout the two week festival

The Big Top, located in Cuthman's Field, will operate as a hub throughout the two week festival

The festival - which is held every other year - started on Saturday morning and will run until Saturday, June 9.

Among the headline acts this year are Barry Cryer and Colin Sell, staples of I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue, legendary jazz bassist Herbie Flowers, Peep Show’s Robert Webb, and Soul II Soul with Jazzie B.
The first event at this year's festival was the sold out 'songs of the dawn' which took place on the grass bank near Mouse Cottage, in Steyning, from 7am to 9am.

There are two tickets remaining for the second 'songs of the dawn' event, which will be held on Friday, June 1, also from 7am to 9am.

Also this morning, there was a parade through Steyning featuring school children, music and a number of volunteers.

On Saturday afternoon, there will be a children's pop-up book workshop, as well as a talk from best-selling novelist Sarah Dunant and a performance from the Herbie Flowers All Star Band in the evening.

Speaking at a launch party, on Friday evening, festival chairman Christine Aubrey said: "It's has been pretty manic and it has been a big job setting everything up but the time has come and the adrenaline is kicking in now.

"We have so much planned over the bank holiday weekend - including a number of free events. That will then take us into the half term and we have activities for the children everyday during the week.

"We have sold a large amount of tickets but there are still plenty of events with tickets remaining and spectators can also purchase tickets on the door for most events.

"As well as all the events, we have a Steyning treasure hunt taking place throughout the two weeks and there will be prizes at the end."

For a full list of this year's lineup, including when and where each event will take place, and to purchase tickets, click here.

The lineup, however, will be without Thick and Tight – a group of trained dancers who were due to perform on the final Friday – who ‘will now not be appearing at this year’s Steyning Festival’.

A spokesman for the festival said the decision was made ‘due to circumstances’ outside of the festival’s control.

The rest of the lineup has been unaffected by Thick and Tight’s announcement.

More than 5,000 tickets have been sold for the festival - which is run entirely by volunteers.

This year, it will feature more than 140 events - 36 of which have now completely sold out.

Nigel Hartley, who is part of the festival’s publicity team said: “This just shows how popular the festival is.

“We have just over 9,000 tickets, in all, for more than 140 events and the sales so far are very encouraging.”

Proving popular among the ticket sales were Baroness Floella Benjamin and A Breakin’ Convention, which is a day of masterclasses in various contemporary dance styles.

Nigel added: “Inevitably, some events sell out very quickly, especially in our smaller venues but it’s worth emphasising that there are many exciting events of interest to all ages and, although tickets are selling very well, there are still plenty available.”

As well as the events which require tickets there are plenty of free events throughout the two weeks.

The festival will have a revolution theme which will feature a mix of music, drama, dance, art, poetry, literature, talks, walks, community events and craft activities to keep everyone entertained.

Christine added: "Revolution was just a word that came to me. It isn't a word you associate with Steyning but then when you look at the history it does have a lot to do with the town.

"We have had artists creating decorations for the festival inspired by revolutions throughout history. There is going to be a lot of talent on show throughout the two weeks.

"We hope people can just come along and enjoy themselves - whether at an event or in the bar and cafe which will be open each day of the festival."

Read all about the festival's revolution theme here.
On Friday evening (May 25), the festival's art trail was also launched at Steyning Museum which will operate as a hub.

Approximately 50 people turned out to see the ribbon cut ahead of the festival.

For more details relating to the art trail, including maps of where to go, please visit Steyning Museum, in Church Street, and speak to the volunteers.

To book your ticket, visit www.steyningfestival.co.uk