Special year for music festival

The 40th Alnwick International Music Festival starts on Saturday. Pictured are Gergent Ensemble, from Sicily, on the main stage at last year's event.
The 40th Alnwick International Music Festival starts on Saturday. Pictured are Gergent Ensemble, from Sicily, on the main stage at last year's event.

The curtain is about to come up on the 40th Alnwick International Music Festival and chairman Alan Symmonds insists this year’s spectacle will be a truly memorable birthday bash.

Performers from America, Belgium, Bulgaria, Ghana and India are set to descend on the town for the annual celebration of global culture, heritage and tradition.

They will be joined by an array of homegrown acts for the eight-day showcase, which starts this Saturday and runs until Saturday, August 8.

Mr Symmonds believes the festival will hit the right note and be the perfect way to mark four decades of the event, which was first held in 1976.

He said: “We are going to make it truly memorable and honour all of the work and effort that has been put into the event to reflect the heritage, history and tradition of 40 years of the festival.

“Many of the groups that have come to Alnwick over the years perform at the top international level and represent the music, song and dance of their various countries at events all around the world.

“This special year for the Alnwick festival is no exception, with top-quality overseas groups, as well as a full supporting line-up coming from around the UK, including Northumberland.”

The main stage is in Alnwick Market Place and the free-to-watch performances take place daily. Groups will also perform in Alnwick Castle and Garden (separate entry fees apply).

The music and dance continues into the night as Alnwick Playhouse holds a series of evening concerts, from Wednesday to Saturday,August 8.

For details, bookings and ticket prices, visit the website alnwickplayhouse.co.uk or call 01665 510785.

Festival workshops (basic cost £1.50) are open to adults and children, although some are specific to each age group.

The workshops take place during the week in the Town Hall, which overlooks the main stage.

Each session lasts around an hour and is hosted by groups at the event. A full programme will be available from the information stall in the Market Place.

Children are an important part of the festival and it is planned for youngsters to join the groups on the main stage after each workshop. A craft fair will be held in the Market Place throughout the event, selling a range of treats and gifts.

A flower festival will take place at St Michael’s Church, on Bailiffgate, from next Thursday to August 8, 11am to 4pm, and Sunday, August 9, from 1pm to 5pm.

The church will host an ecumenical Songs of Praise on Sunday, August 9, at 6pm.

Mr Symmonds said: “The town really does take on a truly international flavour. New friendships are made and the whole event takes place in an atmosphere of international goodwill.”

The event, which is a registered charity, is managed by a team of local volunteers and funded entirely by voluntary contributions. Visit www.alnwickmusicfestival.com
Five overseas groups are set to perform at this year’s Alnwick International Music Festival.

Apple Chill Cloggers, America

The group has toured extensively in the USA, Canada and Europe and its style includes patterns and steps from clogging, square dance and Scottish traditions, as well as creative additions from the members. The group’s trademarks are energetic high kicks and brightly-coloured costumes.

The Gelmelzwaaiers, Belgium

The Gelmelzwaaiers’ speciality is flag-waving to music or drums in different choreographies, featuring colourful flags of various designs and sizes. This experienced group has performed in more than 40 countries around the world.

Ensemble Zornitsa, Bulgaria

Ensemble Zornitsa has appeared on Bulgarian national television and in folk festivals around Europe. They have performed in front of Prince Charles and have won a major European cultural award for contributions to the development of the Bulgarian culture.

Nkrabea Dance Ensemble, Ghana

The Ensemble is a master of African traditional drumming and dancing, acrobatic display, fire-eating and stilt walking. The group has participated in many international folklore festivals around the world and won the Most Popular Group Award at the Sabah International Folklore Festival Competition in Malaysia in 2014.

Rhydham, India

Rhydham proudly shares the magic of India’s dance and tradition through unprecedented, eccentric and zealous performances.

The group has performed in India and abroad, promoting an appreciation of India and its culture around the world.