Canterbury Festival aims to find, develop and showcase local emerging and mid-career talent. Our year-round programme includes work with young people, artists, educators and our audiences; encouraging engagement with the arts for people of all ages and backgrounds.

Click the links below to find out more about our past and ongoing projects.



The Canterbury Festival Foundation supports exceptionally talented young musicians and vocalists in East Kent, helping them to pursue their musical training through its annual bursary of up to £1,000, the opportunity to perform at the Canterbury Festival and be a music ambassador to children and young people in Kent.

The Bursary Competition has grown in popularity every year since its inception in 2011, and each year, showcases the outstanding talent of Kent’s young musicians.

The competition exists to support excellence in talented young musicians across Kent, and has two categories. The Junior category offers professional performance experience for musicians aged 12-14, and the Senior musicians aged 15-18 are eligible to compete for a cash bursary of up to £1,000 which they can put towards new instruments, tuition, courses or international trips. We also encourage applications from individuals aged under 25 with special educational needs.

The winner, announced each year at the annual Bursary concert as part of the main Canterbury Festival programme, also becomes the Festival’s Ambassador for the Arts, developing skills in leading workshops alongside performing in various Festival events throughout the year.

Our 2022 Young Musicians’ Bursary Competition is now open for applications.  For more information click here or contact Lauren Woodrow at [email protected]


Young Musicians’ Bursary Winners

2021: Eliza Ruffle – Piano: Shostakovich’s Prelude and Fugue A minor | Rachmaninov’s Etudes Tableaux op 39 no 6. Find out more here. Watch the full 2021 final here.

2020: Jessica Yuen – Piano: Haydn’s Sonata in C major no.60 | Rachmaninov’s Prelude in D Major op.23 no.4. Find out more here.  Watch the full 2020 series here.

2019: Siena Barr – Clarinet: Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto | Bernstein’s Sonata Grazioso. Find out more here

2018: Timon Staelher – Piano: Beethoven’s Sonata for Piano no 3 in C major, op 2 no 3.

2017: Harriet Tubb – Marimba: Lorrick’s Odessa.

2016: Ellen Pearson – Voice: Handel’s Piangero La Sorte Mia | Mozart’s Non So Piu Cosa Son.

2015: Emily Hopper – Harp: Handel arr. Beon Passacaille | Hasselmans’ Chanson de mai | Mathias’ Improvisations for harp, 3rd mvt.

2014: Jessica Meakin – Violin: Affetuoso’s Sonata No 4 in D Major: 1. | Handel’s 2. Allegro.

2014: Sabrina Curwen – Voice: Tosti’s Ideale | Poulenc’s ‘La Reine de Coeur | Bernstein’s Tonight from West Side Story.

2013: Matt Roberts – Cello: Suk’s Ballade in D Minor.

2012: Summer Alp – Recorder: Handel’s Affettuoso and Allegro Sonata in F major.

2011: Caitlin Shaughnessy – Violin: Bach’s Partita No. 3 in E major BWV 1006 Gavotte en Rondeau | de Falla’s Danse Espagnole.

Each year Canterbury Festival run a poetry competition which is open to Kent-based children and young people aged 5-18. Last year over 1500 children and young people from across Kent applied.

We shortlist up to 40 poems; all of which are published in an anthology and awarded a book voucher. Shortlisted winners are also invited to read their poems each year on National Poetry Day.

In 2020 we received more individual applications than ever before. Online poetry resources were accessed during lockdown and schools and parents worked with children learning from home. The resulting anthology contains fifteen incredible poems written in exceptional circumstances to conjure the importance of our Earth Tribe – our 2020 theme. Copies of the 2o2o Anthology can be purchased here.

View our shortlisted 2020 poets here

Our 2020 winners were announced on National Poetry Day on BBC Radio Kent’s Dominic King Show, with broadcasted readings. The winners were:

Ages 6 – 10: Alexander Robertson, Age 6

Ages 11 – 13: Sophie Arterton, Age 12

Ages 14 – 18: Anna Hagan, Age 14

You can listen to all of our 2020 shortlisted poems below.


For more information please email [email protected]

Made in Kent Dance

Made in Kent: Dance 2019 was a performance opportunity for early-stage career dance groups or soloists, aged 16-24 from the Kent area.

In 2019 winners of the competition were awarded:

  • £150 development fee.
  • A development day including feedback and mentoring with Ash Mukherjee and Lea Anderson MBE.
  • The chance to perform as part of Canterbury Festival.
  • A feature in Canterbury Festival’s brochure.
  • Support from a technical and stage manager on the day of the performance.

We were delighted to welcome both the hugely talented Ash Mukherjee and Lea Anderson MBE to the Made in Kent: Dance team for 2019. They individually brought a wealth of experience and knowledge across multiple disciplines and provided valuable guidance to the winners.

The 2019 showcase featured as part of the Festival programme and took place at Anselm Theatre.

Made In Kent: Theatre 2019 offered emerging groups and companies the opportunity to perform a show during Kent’s International Arts Festival. The project supported emerging artists pursuing careers including acting, directing and scriptwriting.

The 2019 winners received:

  • The chance to perform as part of Canterbury Festival 2019.
  • Net box office takings, plus £150 towards rehearsal costs.
  • A feature in the 2019 Canterbury Festival brochure.
  • Support from a venue technician and stage manager on the dat of the performance.
  • Rehearsal feedback from the Festival Participation Manager and Festival Director.
  • A development day with theatre professional.

Congratulations to our 2019 winners Alternate Perspective Theatre, who performed Sense of Wonder on Thursday 31 October at Anselm Theatre – an immersive and sensory adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

Track Record - Ruben Elbrond-Palmer c.Tim Stubbings

Made In Kent: Track Record 2019 offered musicians and vocalists living in Kent, aged 14-21, the chance to perform at Canterbury Festival, receive feedback from an industry professional, record in a studio environment and develop their creative skills. The 2019 competition prize included:

  • Rehearsal space at Your Music School, Canterbury.
  • Four Hours Recording time with an engineer in a local professional studio.
  • Interview and performance slot on Academy FM.
  • Performance & audition feedback from Industry professionals.
  • Song Writing Masterclass.
  • Tickets to live music at Ramsgate Music Hall.
  • Extended performance opportunities.

The competition was open to all musicians aged between 14-17 (juniors) 18-21 (seniors) and encouraged submission from all genres.

Our 2019 showcase took place on Sunday 27 October at The Ballroom.

Made In Kent Comedy

As part of Canterbury Festival 2019 the Made In Kent: Comedy project showcased new emerging comedic talent. Successful applicants featured as part of the 2019 comedy night, performing their material in front of a festival crowd and facing a panel of judges.

For more information about this year’s events and to find out how you can apply in the future, contact [email protected]