Belper Arts Festival starts this week

For the whole of May Belper celebrates the arts with an impressive festival packed with music, theatre, photography, comedy and visual art.

The festivities get underway with a concert by Irish soprano Margaret Keys on May 5 who is swiftly followed by the town’s Arts Trail on May 6 and 7, which this year boasts 120 artists in 53 venues.

A new event being staged as part of the trail this year is Co-Creators, by Belper jeweller Richard Bett, which aims to bring to life the skills and methods of artists and craftspeople from diverse disciplines, using the most
up-to-date technology. 

The intricacy and skills of the craft workers in marquees on the town’s Market Place will be projected live on to large screens inside the No28 community hall using telephone technology. Visitors are being told to look out for a surprise involving a horse’s head.

The community hall on the Market Place is also the venue for several other events during the month including the classical guitar of James Rippingale on May 10; Tales of Woollen Woods, with stories, songs and poems by Lauren Kinnersley, a needle felt artist and storyteller on May 12; and A Ship of Fools stand-up comedy show compered by Alan Seaman on May 19.

Transition Belper will be staging a Green Exchange Cafe at the venue on May 20, while on May 24 there will be a Freedom Feed ‘Em community focused charity feast.

No28 will also be hosting five artists for the ever-popular Belper Open Houses event which is now in its eighth year and will be taking place on May 26-28.

Artists and makers across the town will be opening their doors and studios to welcome guests for a chat and in some cases have a go at learning something new.

One of the other busy venues for the festival is Fleet Arts which has a new manager Ola Wilson. She is excited to be hosting several new events including a Drink and Draw evening on May 12 and a Peace Walk Labyrinth as part of a mass walk for World Labyrinth Day on May 5.

Belper is a town renowned for its amateur dramatics prowess and this festival is not short of good drama. Belper Captive Audience Theatre is staging a musical adaptation of Jessica Swale’s award-winning West End hit, Nell Gwynn from May 17-19 and Marde Hen Productions are presenting an evening of new writing with Mixed Up! from May 31-June 2. Both events are at the Strutts Community Centre. 

While technically outside the festival dates, we should also mention Derwent Theatre’s production of Diva at the Unitarian Chapel in the town on June 9, not least because it is produced by the festival’s co-ordinator George Gunby.

This is just a taster of what the festival has to offer – for full details of all events and ticket prices click here.