The walk-in box office for the 43rd Rye Arts Festival opened at Phillips & Stubbs in Cinque Ports Street this week with some events already sold out. The festival takes over the town and many surrounding venues from September 12-28, but Friends of the festival have been able to book since July 14, and general postal and on-line bookings since July 28. So tickets are moving fast.
A guided walk round medieval Rye on September 24 with former mayor and historian Jo Kirkham sold out so fast that the festival had to add an extra date, September 17 – now also virtually sold out. TV commentator Peter Snow’s talk about “When Britain burned the White House” on September 25 was already sold out according to the festival’s new on-line booking service – but a few seats were left at the box office, which is open Monday to Saturday, 9:30am-1pm.
The festival features a wide range of concerts, talks, events and walks, including both classical, operatic and contemporary music; and literary, theatrical and historic “performances” as well as exhibitions and workshops. Art plays a larger part in this year’s festival and there are exhibitions at many locations:
- Rye Art Gallery, High Street, “A Celebration of Light”, paintings by Andrew Blyth and Andy Wood (September 6-October 19)
- Milligan Theatre foyer, Love Lane, “Fine Art Show” by Rye Academy Trust artists (September 12-28)
- Plaristo, 55 The Mint, “Glowing Glass competition” (September 13-28)
- Avocet Gallery, Rye Harbour “Seaside Special” including local artists (September 13-November 1)
- School Creative Centre, New Road, “New Works” (September 15-26)
The School Creative Centre is home to more than 30 professional artists and events there during the festival and include talks on September 13, 20 and 27 at 2pm, the exhibition September 15-26 (weekdays 11am-2pm) and open studios on Saturday September 20 (10am-5pm). More details on its website.
If the “paid for” tickets are no longer available, there are also a number of free events. The festival kicks off on Friday September 12 with Country & Western music and The Hallelujah Trails. There is free admission to the concert in Rye Community Centre, but you must pre-book and collect tickets from the walk-in box office.
If your taste is more “Beer & Beethoven” the Piatti Quartet in Residence are at the Queens Head from 8pm Sunday September 21, or will be rehearsing (soberly) in the Methodist Church the morning after between 11:00 and 12:30. They also do a master class with local students, again in the Methodist Church, Friday September 26, 11am-1pm.
Free performances also include funk at the William the Conqueror, Rye Harbour (September 14 at 3pm), blues at The George (September 21 at 4pm) and rock and roll at the Queens Head (September 28 at 5pm).
Other varied events include:
- East Street’s Rye Museum exhibition about the town’s links with France over six centuries (September 13-28, 10am-4pm daily)
- Learning to tango or visiting the historic Winchelsea cellars, or the Marsh’s historic churches
- Learning about saving historic buildings or the origins of D.H.Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley
- Or listening to cricket commentator Henry Blofeld or broadcaster/politician Gyles Brandreth.
But be quick if you want a ticket. Full details can be found at the festival website and printed programmes are available in many locations around Rye.