Proceeding into the festival

Coming up East Street

Rye Arts Festival will kick off this Friday morning (September 11) with a carnival procession of students, schoolchildren, drummers and costumes from Rye’s schools and around the town followed by a free Cajun band concert by the Hotfoot Specials (with all the tickets already claimed) at the Community Centre in Conduit Hill Friday evening.

Tickets for a number of events have already sold out including the Oldie Literary Lunch, the Romney Marshes Churches Tour, and former Mayor Jo Kirkham’s guided tours around town. For the latest information, tickets and event details go to A highlight of this year’s festival will be two performances of Mozart’s Don Giovanni in the Milligan Theatre.

Tickets for these and other events can be bought online, or at the box office at Phillips & Stubbs in Cinque Ports Street. It is open 9:30am-12:30pm Monday-Saturday, or phone 01797 224442. The Studio School has again been playing an active part in the opera performances, helping out with sets, costumes, publicity and back-stage work; and the first performance of Don Giovanni is this Saturday, September 12.

On Sunday, Martin Wimbush features in a play about Wellington, the Prime Minister and soldier, in the Community Centre at 6pm and the East Street Museum is featuring an exciting exhibition, during the festival, about Wellington and the Battle of Waterloo, exactly 200 years ago . Fans of toy soldiers should not miss out on this! For something lighter Sunday evening, guitarist Marcus Noble features in Beer and Bach in the Queens Head from 8pm, and on Monday he is more serious in concert at St Michael’s, Playden from 7:30pm. See here for other classical events.

For something lighter, but classic in a different way (think Richard Stilgoe, Noel Coward, and Flanders and Swann), the Flood Trio at the Rye Creative Centre in New Road on Saturday September 19 at 7:30pm may be more up your street.

One of the classical highlights (7:30pm, next Wednesday, September 16, St Mary’s) will be Alexander Panfilov, winner of February’s International Piano Concerto Competition – who has also been doing very well in this week’s Leeds International Piano Competition. Earlier the same day Maya Irgalina (pictured), also in St Mary’s but at 1pm, will be performing Chopin and Angela Hewitt is there Tuesday night at 7:30pm. With three pianists in two days the piano hire and moving costs should be minimised, but St Mary’s volunteers may be keyboarded off.

Folk fans should not miss The Rails (this Saturday, September 12 at 8pm in the Community Centre) and Irish band Altan (Milligan Theatre, Saturday September 19 at 8pm). For other events see here.

Artist, illustrator and film director Dave McKean is at the new festival venue, the Kino cinema, to talk us through The Gospel of Us on Friday September 18 at 8:15 pm ; and also features in the Right here, right now exhibition at the Studio School. Rye Art Gallery features three exhibitions during the festival; the New Road Artists at the Rye Creative Centre have open studios, and artist Luke Hannam has a pop-up studio in McCully & Crane’s in Cinque Ports Street with three meet the artist sessions. Full details may be found on the festival website.

And, last but not least, on the art front, artist in residence Charlie Cobb will be running master classes, introducing Mr Turner (whose paintings he faked), and will have a pop-up studio in Sweet Memories of Rye in the High Street, opposite the new bookshop and on “loan” from Glenn Croucher of Rye Bakery.

Finally, a whole string of literary events is kick-started this Saturday (at the Mermaid Inn, 3pm) by national journalist Jamie Doward from the Sunday Observer talking about his new book Toxic which starts with a dead banker on the beach on Dungeness. A cheerful thought!


Photo from Rye Arts Festival