The programme for the 11th Romsey Festival between Saturday 1st and Sunday 16th July 2017 is almost complete, and tickets are now on sale. The festival features the Beggars Fair on the middle weekend, and a special 30th Anniversary concert. Festival Chairman Dick Hewett hopes that the range of events will attract as wide an audience as possible, showcasing the talent and culture of Romsey and the surrounding area to best advantage, as well as raising funds for many good causes.
A particular feature of the Festival this year is a wide variety of art exhibitions, ranging from Art In The Park and the Inside Out Art Trail, to exhibitions at several galleries and studios, as well as special exhibitions in a number of venues. Together with the regular Quilt Festival in the Abbey, Viewfinders’ photo exhibition in King Johns House, and children’s painted animals “Going Wild On The Canal”, there is plenty to keep art lovers occupied for the full two weeks.
Younger musicians feature again, with the annual Schools Choir Festival in aid of Jane Scarth House, and several other opportunities for young musicians to show their undoubted talents. Daily weekday lunchtime recitals in the Abbey or URC will feature a range of musicians and styles.
Concerts by established local choirs such as the Romsey Choral Society, the Romsey Singers, Romsey Abbey Choirs and Romsey Male Voice Choir, are also significant events in the programme. Folk and popular music includes Folklights at the Lantern Theatre, Cuckoo Pint at King Johns House, and Home Folk in the Old House At Home. Mark Ponsford returns, and the Michelmersh Silver Band play outdoors at the Sir Harold Hiller Gardens.
Drama is provided by RAODS with their production of “Cider With Rosie” at the Hillier Gardens and Island House, whilst regular performers Chest House Productions stage the story of Florence Nightingale at Romsey Library. The Town Hall will host an extra Community Cinema.
For those interested in local history, a series of short talks about different aspects of Romsey Abbey (and St Swithun’s) are being given throughout the fortnight, together with a Phoebe Merrick talk about the relationship between the Abbey and the town. History will also be covered with a series of events at King Johns House, whilst Romsey Signal Box will be open on four days during the Festival.
The churches themselves will celebrate the Festival with an Opening Service in the URC, and a Festival Closing Service in the Abbey. In between, the public are invited to visit the URC each weekday at 9.30am for a half-hour of music, arts and reflection entitled “Poetry, Prose and Prayer”, and there will be several Choral Evensongs.
Food and drink feature this year with a cooking experience at Naz’s Indian Restaurant, and a special charity brewery tour at Flack Manor Brewery. After enjoying those delights, a good walk will be possible with the RDS Waterways Walks in Romsey and similar walks at Mottisfont Abbey.
Venus outside Romsey will also host events, including Tea-time Music at Mottisfont, and a Family Day at the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens. Pocket Theatre will provide their own brand of music and comedy at Ampfield, Michelmersh and East Dean churches.
Finally, the Festival has an international flavour with TAE Teatro from Treviglio (Romsey’s Twin town in Italy) putting on short performances in the Abbey South Garth and Plaza Theatre.
During April and May a dedicated Festival brochure will be delivered to every house in Romsey, giving the dates of all the events and listing the venues. For more details visit the website – www.romseyfestival.org. The majority of events are free or donations are requested. For those where tickets can be purchased in advance, go to Romsey TIC (01794 512987), or go to the website and click on the “Buy now” button on the relevant page.
The bells will be ringing in Romsey and Lockerley in celebration of what we hope will be a very successful Festival.
This article was first published in the Romsey & District Society Newslettter, March 2017.