Each year Canterbury Festival runs a number of exciting public engagement projects that you can get directly involved in! From our Schools’ Poetry Competition to the Beautiful Noise Community Day and our 2023 Upstart Comedy Workshops, we believe in offering aspiring artists the opportunity to build on their creativity, develop their skill set and take part in Canterbury’s annual Arts Festival.

We’ll be posting our 2024 call outs here, so keep your eyes peeled for updates.

Contraband is an exciting new project that will showcase talented musicians aged 14-21  from across the Canterbury district in a professionally managed live setting. It’s the perfect opportunity to strut your stuff, raise the roof  and meet other bands from the area to help build a live music hub for young artists. This is a free to attend event as part of our 2024 public engagement programme, so is the perfect opportunity to invite friends and family to a live show in the city centre.

The event will take place as part of Canterbury Festival 2024 with bands taking to the Festival Club stage at Westgate Hall on Friday 25 October from 11am – 4pm.

Applications are now open, so if you would like to get involved please download the application form below. The deadline for submissions is Sunday 21 July.

Click here to download the contraband application form



The Canterbury Festival Schools’ Poetry Competition returns for 2024, inviting children aged 5-18 to submit poems based on this year’s International Poetry Day word ‘Counting’.

In 2023 the Schools’ Poetry Competition received more than 500 entries from participating primary and secondary schools across Canterbury and the East Kent district. From this number, 28 poets aged 6-18 were shortlisted and invited to read work at the Schools’ Poetry Competition awards-evening which was held at the Gulbenkian Arts Centre, attended by teachers, parents and family.

Shortlisted poets will be invited to read their poem in public at the Schools’ Poetry Competition Showcase on Thursday 3 October 2024 and poems will be published in an anthology.

The deadline for submissions is Friday 19 July 2024

Click here to download an entry form

Schools/home-schools should complete only one entry form for all the poems entered and send them as one batch to [email protected]


The Canterbury Festival Foundation through it’s annual Bursary continues to support exceptionally talented young musicians in East Kent, helping them to pursue their music education ambitions. The Bursary Competition offers shortlisted young musicians the opportunity to perform at the Canterbury Festival, with the competition winner receiving a £1000.00 Bursary, being awarded the title of Canterbury Festival Young Musician of the Year and becoming the Canterbury Festival Youth Music Ambassador 2025.

If you are:

  • A talented young instrumentalist or singer
  • Aged 14-18 (or under 25 with special educational needs)
  • Resident in Kent

Click here to download the application form and find out more

Please email your completed application form by Friday 7 June 2024

If you have previously attended the Canterbury Festival, you will have experienced the warm, positive response of performers and audiences expressed throughout our programme of cultural events.

Beautiful Noise – A Community Music Celebration on Saturday 19 October (11am to 5pm) provides a wonderful opportunity to be involved in an all-inclusive, joyous day of music-making and community performance.

Beautiful Noise – A Community Music Celebration aims to shine a spotlight on local musicians, singers and performers across numerous locations throughout Canterbury and we welcome you to consider being part of this unique, annual event. Beautiful Noise is open to all ages and all music genres. Performers are invited to perform in either an indoor or outdoor venue (please indicate your preference in the box provided overleaf).

Click here to download the application form and find out more

Please email this form in word format by Friday 28 June 2024.
Email: [email protected]

Following the success of last year’s youth orchestral pilot project, Beautiful Noise Orchestra,  we are delighted to announce that we are continuing this project, re-introducing it in 2024 as the Canterbury Festival Youth Orchestra.  Our ambition is to continue to create opportunities to support and showcase the talents of local music students. Participating in the Youth Orchestra offers a wonderful opportunity to evolve your school music performance experience and gather together with other young musicians from local schools across Canterbury and Kent, under the banner of the Canterbury Festival.

Led each year by a different host school (in 2023 the host school was Simon Langton Grammar School for Girls, led by Simon Burvill, Director of Music), in 2024 we have invited Julian Ross (Director of Music, Kent College) to curate and conduct the programme with support from peripatetic music teachers.

We would like to invite you to join in (this invite extends to recently graduated students who are on a GAP year). Please download the Canterbury Festival Youth Orchestra Student Submission Form, which includes additional information on the event and the rehearsal schedule.

Please return this form in word format via email to: [email protected] by Sunday 21 July 2024

Public Performance Date: Tuesday 22 October 2024

Public Performance Venue: The Great Hall, Kent College

Orchestra lead & Conductor: Julian Ross (Director of Music, Kent College)

The Canterbury Festival Poet of the Year Competition 2024 will be launched on Monday 4 March.  The competition has become a popular fixture in the poetry world attracting entries from all over the globe, last year we received a total of 553 poems. The judges this year are Luigi Marchini (Chair of SaveAs Writers), Derek Sellen (Poet of the Year 2023) and Mara Adamitz Scrupe (Dean & Professor Emerita, University of the Arts, Philadelphia and former Poet of the Year).

All the poems are judged totally anonymously, the poet’s name is not revealed to the judges.  Poems may be on any subject and in any format but no more than 60 lines long.  All entries must be accompanied by an Entry Form and a fee of £5 per poem payable by cheque or by PayPal invoice which is issued upon receipt of the entry.

From all the poems entered around 35 are chosen as the longlist and these poems appear in the Poet of the Year Anthology. The judges then choose a shortlist of around 15 poems, any of which may win the Competition. The Awards Evening is held on-line when the shortlisted poets are invited to read their work. The winners are then announced with the Poet of the Year collecting a prize of £200, second place £100, and third £50.

We welcome entries from everyone so whether you are a practised poet or have never written a verse before, but would like to, send your entries to Tina at the Festival Office.

An Entry Form can be downloaded here

Terms and Conditions can be downloaded here 


Applications for this year’s Canterbury Festival Visual Arts programme are now open. Artists working in all mediums are invited to get involved and join us in celebrating the arts in East Kent. If you are planning an exhibition, open studio or other free event between 19 October – 2 November, we want to hear from you.

Successful submissions will be featured as part of this year’s Festival programme with a dedicated page on the Festival website and a listing in the Festival brochure.

All responsibility for the organisation and marketing of the event lies with the organiser. Visual Arts events should be free and easily accessible.

We would love to hear from artists working in traditional media, photography, sound, video, ceramics, digital art or any other medium.

To submit your event to the Canterbury Festival 2024 Visual Arts programme, please download an application form below and return it to [email protected]

Deadline for submissions: Monday 29 April 2024

Celebrating art in all its forms, the 2024 Umbrella programme invites submissions from artists and performers based in Canterbury and East Kent. This year’s Festival will take place from 19 October – 2 November.

Previous Umbrella events have included theatre shows, art workshops, live music, lectures, dance performances and more. Successful submissions will receive a dedicated event page on the Festival website and a listing in the Festival brochure.

Responsibility for the organisation, ticket management and marketing of the event, lies with the organiser.

Acting as a Fringe to the core programme, Umbrella events are a brilliant opportunity for emerging artists to present their work to a Festival audience – broadening the Festival’s arts offer and providing exposure for independent events around Canterbury.

To submit your event to the Canterbury Festival 2024 Umbrella programme, please download an application form here and return it to [email protected]

Deadline for submissions: Monday 29 April 2024