Wirksworth Festival celebrates 25 years

It is the 25th anniversary of Wirksworth Festival this year and looking at the programme of events it promises to be every bit as good as those in the past.

The Art and Architecture Trail, which is staged during the festival’s opening weekend, September 7 and 8, sees the entire town become a gallery with more than 130 artists and designer-makers exhibiting and selling their work in locations ranging from charming stone cottages to impressive Georgian town houses, historic and quirky buildings, gardens, courtyards, shop windows and churches. 

There is also the Designer Makers Showcase, housed in the Town Hall and the Memorial Hall, bringing together some of the region’s best contemporary jewellery, ceramics, textiles, glassware and other crafts. 

Wirksworth Festival was one of the first places to put on an art trail back in 1995 when a group of local artists decided to join in the already established festival celebrating local talent  by opening up their homes and inviting other artists from outside the town to join them.

The trailblazing event set the standard for the many other art events now staged in the county, but Wirksworth remains unique with its Curated Exhibition, which this year has been put together by sculptor Denis O’Connor. You can read more about him, his work and the exhibition on page 9.

For the remaining two weeks of the festival there’s a heady mixture of performance and fringe events – live music, dance, drama, film and family shows from world-class performers to the very best home grown talent. 

With acts direct from the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and featuring winners of international awards alongside those that have appeared at Ronnie Scott’s, the Albert Hall and on national radio, this year’s Town Hall events programme is set to feature local and national talent in a series of shows that befits the festival’s 25th anniversary.

Roger McGough, ‘the patron saint of poetry’, together with Little Machine headline the programme, which features diverse acts such as Jumoke Fashola, Mark Gwynne Jones, jazz band SoulDeep and saxophonist John Sanderson with Here’s to Life, canny words and smooth jazz.

Also appearing are Celtic folk rock band Ranagri with their blend of wild and exciting rhythms, and Kyla Brox, Manchester’s answer to Aretha Franklin, who has been described as the finest blues singer of her generation.

There’s a welcome return for INdependDANCE, fresh from their success at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival with A Letter To Alice which uses characters and images from Through the Looking Glass to tell of one girl’s battle with anxiety. 

Rebel Sound are back under the direction of Alex Blood as too are the ever-popular Sleeping Trees Theatre with their blend of fast-paced comedy.

Rounding off the programme, in their first appearance in Wirksworth, is a side splitting, intelligent show from drag girl band Denim. 

To bring the festival to a close on September 15 there is a community celebration for all the family at St Mary’s Churchyard in the centre of the town. This year it’s is all about Bubbles ’n’ W(Rap) and is being organised by the festival in conjunction with various local groups and partners.

For more information go to http://www.wirksworthfestival.co.uk