We are delighted to announce this year’s programme which will take place at venues across the city from Saturday 15 October to Saturday 5 November. Boasting over 150 events, audiences can expect a plethora of unique experiences with music, theatre, circus, comedy, cabaret, talks, science, family events, exhibitions and much more. Not only that, this year we are thrilled to present an immersive light and sound installation experience with world renowned artists Luxmuralis, who will be transforming Canterbury Cathedral – Kent’s most iconic building – with jaw-dropping visuals and soundscapes.
After two-years of slimmed down line-ups Canterbury Festival is proud to be back with a bang, offering live experiences that could only come together under the umbrella of a multi-arts Festival. Expect huge classical and choral works, raucous drag, wild acrobatics, gripping theatre and plenty of laughs with some of the funniest shows from around the world that take traditional artforms and turn them on their head.
Events will spring up across the city at venues including Canterbury Cathedral, The Malthouse, Kent College’s Great Hall, Canterbury Christ Church University, Westgate Hall and more.
We are honoured to be supported for the 12th year by Partner and Principal Sponsor, Canterbury Christ Church University – working closely with different departments to engage staff and students directly in Festival events – on stage, behind the scenes and online. Events will take place in Festival venues and on campus, exploring music, history, visual art, games design– an exciting opportunity to explore our shared commitment to creativity, culture and community.
As an appetiser to this year’s extravaganza, the organisers have arranged two events to get you in the Festival mood!
Prepare to be gripped by Shakespeare’s epic tragedy Julius Caesar. Direct from the Globe Theatre to Canterbury’s stunning indoor venue, the Great Hall at Kent College, this exciting new production visits as part of the Globe on Tour from 15 – 17 September. It’s the perfect warm up to this year’s Canterbury Festival and the last chance to experience an exciting new Shakespeare’s Globe production on your doorstep, before the tour ends.
The following week, the Festival presents a surprise talk with conductor, composer, pianist and former Festival Director Stephen Barlow and national treasure Dame Joanne Lumley. Married since 1986 and with such busy lives the two are seldom seen together – in this unique fundraising event, they will share an insight into how they juggle the limelight with their domestic lives (Wed 21 Sep, Malthouse Theatre).
From Thursday 3 – Saturday 5 November, Luxmuralis presents Shine: Let there Be Light! – combining three of their most popular light and sound shows in the stunning setting of Canterbury Cathedral. Highlighting the architectural features of the city’s majestic building, audiences can journey through immersive sound and light installations exploring life on Earth, the wonders of Space and the discoveries of Science. Artistic collaboration Luxmuralis combine soundscapes by David Harper and projections created by sculptor Peter Walker – they are renowned for transforming some of the world’s most iconic buildings into spectacular experiences for all ages.
On Saturday 15 October this year’s Festival will launch with Beautiful Noise, a celebration of community music making. Choirs, bands and community groups will come together to perform at locations across the city from 11am-5pm. This year’s opening concert presents Elizabeth, our Queen with the ORA Singers, celebrating the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and performing works from the time of Good Queen Bess and modern-day composers.
As the Festival continues there are many more classical concerts to enjoy. Discover the history and music of Canterbury’s World War One POWs with Culture in Captivity or join acclaimed pianist Clare Hammond for an evening of much-loved works. The Carducci Quartet perform the Shostakovich String Quartet Cycle, performing all 15 works in chronological order, over two days and four concerts. The Festival Chamber Orchestra take to the Great Hall stage, celebrating The English Soul with a repertoire that covers everything from Purcell to the Moody Blues. Kent Chamber Opera follow up their 2021 hit with Mozart’s Magic Flute and the MozART Group will be proving that laughter is the best medicine with Classical Therapy – a concert packed full of physical shenanigans, mischief and comedy. Ending the concert series, Canterbury Choral Society will be joined by the London Handel Orchestra for Bach’s Mass in B Minor.
With rock, jazz, folk and gospel, the Festival’s music programme is huge! Soak up the Festival atmosphere with unique gigs from Miss Kiddy and Cads, the Moscow Drug Club, The Often Herd, Polly Gibbons, the Red Stripe Band, FB Pocket Orchestra and Mampama. The London Community Gospel Choir’s pioneering sound will be lifting spirits at the Great Hall and the number one selling classical vocal trio, Tenors Un Limited, aka ‘the Rat Pack of Opera’, deliver a concert covering everything from Pavarotti to Freddie Mercury. You can celebrate the Canterbury sound with folk and prog rock legends Caravan and join the Jack Hues Quartet for a special gig featuring members of Led Bib and Syd Arthur.
Prepare for a whirlwind of comedy, theatre, circus and cabaret. This year’s performance programme launches with a riotous night of cabaret that’s bursting with physical feats, burlesque and comedy. The diamante diva herself, La Voix, hot foots her way to Canterbury with an unforgettable evening of comedy, music, drag and a shedload of gorgeous dresses. Canterbury also welcomes Fascinating Aïda’s Dillie Keane, who dials the comedy up to 11 with Songs my Mother would have Hated.
For theatre lovers the Festival presents new works by Dyad Productions with A Room of One’s Own, Brother Wolf’s new take on Treasure Island – Silver and Gold, and Play on Words Theatre’s multi-award winning Tom Crean – Antarctic Explorer. You can catch a brilliant new production from Ginger Bennett, charting a compelling story of music, immigration and history in Songs from my Soul. Love circus? Then book in for two shows packed full of acrobatics, physical feats and humour with Lost in Translation Circus’ Hotel Paradiso and the boys of Barely Methodical Troupe with Bromance. The Festival have comedy covered with their annual Comedy Club; thirteen time sell-out veterans of The Edinburgh Fringe, The Noise Next Door; card throwing comedy master Card Ninja; and host of Whose Line Is It Anyway, Clive Anderson with his first-ever solo tour Me, Macbeth and I.
The Talks series presents an array of speakers discussing history, biology, exploration and more. Highlights include historian and presenter Janina Ramirez, master potter and The Great Pottery Throwdown judge Keith Brymer-Jones, director of the V&A Tristram Hunt, Egyptologist Dr Chris Naunton, zoologist Lucy Cooke and documentary maker Mick Conefrey.
This year’s science series shines a light on cutting edge forensics, dives headfirst into physics and asks what is normal? Dr Sarah Chaney unpicks perceptions of what is ‘normal’ and the questionable scientific standards that have defined ‘normal’ over the last 200 years. Brian Clegg reveals the Ten Days in Physics that Shook the World. Dr Kathryn Harkup turns her discerning eye to the demise of Shakespeare’s characters and asks, just how realistic were some of the more elaborate deaths? You can also join Johnjoe McFadden who tells how Occam’s Razor set science free and Professor Angela Gallop CBE, who provides an in-depth view into forensic science and how crimes are solved.
Family fun comes in spades this year with a bounty of shows to keep your young ones entertained over the October half term. The Highland Joker presents a fun, interactive, bubble extravaganza with The Bubble Show – creating giant bubbles, square bubbles and even fire bubbles! Aca Theatre’s loveable clowns visit with We All Wobble, a show full of hilarious slapstick, near misses and comedy chaos for all the family. Expect high energy entertainment with The Giant Balloon Show and spooky goings on with The Noise Next Door and The Mysterious Mansion of Mystery. Canterbury favourites Squashbox Theatre return with a Journey to the Stars and there’s a boogie for the whole family with Baby Loves Disco.
With an extensive programme of Walks, Visual Arts, Community and Umbrella events, there are lots of ways to get involved in this year’s Festival.
As an independent charity, the Festival would like to thank the loyal support of their sponsors, funders, members, volunteers and audiences – without whom this year’s events would not be possible. These include Partner and Principal Sponsor Canterbury Christ Church University, Headline Sponsors Kent College and Paul Roberts, and over 25 other businesses across the Canterbury community. Canterbury Festival are truly grateful for their backing and encouragement.
Priority booking for Festival Friends will open on Monday 25 July at 11am, with general sales opening on Monday 8 August at 11am. Tickets can be purchased online at canterburyfestival.co.uk, over the phone on 01227 457568 or in person at the Festival Office (Mon – Fri, 10am – 5pm).