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Tea dance in the Spiegeltent

Blog: What I love about Canterbury Festival

Festival Friend, Trudy is here to tell you what she loves about Kent’s International Arts Festival.

Am I the only Festival fan to hear non-Festival friends saying ”I didn’t see anything I fancied”, after a cursory glance through the programme? Surely, this is what the Festival is all about. A wonderful chance to sample many different aspects of entertainment on our doorstep. My reply is always: “How do you know if you don’t try?”.

We moved to the Canterbury area in 1997 and by 1999 became regular (old) Marlowe and Gulbenkian members, so started to slip into the October routine. Initially we went to maybe 3 to 5 events each year during the Festival. Twenty years on (and now retired) we are totally hooked and look forward to receiving the programme for our priority booking. We tick every event that even slightly tickles our fancy and then spend ages reducing it to a mere 26 or so events!

Ok, so that adds up to quite a large bill, but we count it as a holiday fortnight from home. We are out so much that the house doesn’t get dirty, it isn’t gardening time of year, and we are ready for some entertainment. Where else could you get such a holiday and still have all your home comforts?

We try many new things as well as enjoying the featured acts like Mikhail Rudy and Fascinating Aida, and we really try to do as wide a variety of events as possible. We might even do three activities in a day – a walk, a talk and a show; or two Spiegeltents back to back. We enjoy free events: sculptures, pottery or a lunchtime concert – we particularly liked Trio Manor Manouche. We try different venues and types of music – from King’s Singers to Good Gnus – and enjoy science mixed with art, like Cellular Dynamics. We learned more about familiar parts of Kent, like the Folkestone Front Line or discover bits we hadn’t noticed before such as the Canterbury Blitzed Bits. We even meet up with regular Festival goers from as far away as Switzerland and Holland. Every year the wonderful circus performers are a highlight – they are far more than just acrobats, there is always a story or musical variation each year, and it is always jaw-droppingly beautiful. We enjoy the groups that return each year, like the crazy Cabarets and Fat Show. We love the Edinburgh festival discoveries, last October’s Släpstick performance was a brilliant surprise.

In all these twenty years we have walked out of maybe four events (a wrong choice, bad acoustics) and we have blocked out the two weeks for this coming October ready to go into it whole heartedly. My aim this year is to persuade at least two friends to try THREE events this time and find out what they are missing – why don’t you all do the same? I’m looking forward to seeing the same keen friends in the queue on booking day!


The Festival’s full programme will be announced in July, so hang tight, you’re in for a treat this year!