Worcester Festival Launch/Henry Sandon Hall, Worcester


CRASH, bang wallop and plenty of fizz…Worcester Festival once again launched down the slipway with the promise that this year’s summer of fun would be the best yet.

Festival director Chris Jaeger is a man with a mission – to provide more than two weeks of entertainment for the citizens of not just the Faithful City, but also the entire county.

Guests and civic dignitaries who attended the champagne launch event at the weekend were greeted at the Henry Sandon Hall by the beautiful folk music of Worcester’s Orchard Band, which provided the perfect ambience for the evening’s proceedings.

Judging by the festival programme, no one will go short. And while there will be no fireworks finale this year, the massive savings have ensured that the spare cash has further boosted an already packed events list.

This year sees a record-breaking 504 events, 54 different venues, 44 organisations taking part, 337 free events and 54 top-class events costing £5 or less.

Jaeger said: “The decision not to have fireworks has not been taken lightly. But we believe that this is the right time for a change, one that will allow us to move the festival forward in a really positive way.

“In recent years, we have become increasingly conscious of the need to consider the bigger impact of the fireworks, and to weigh up whether the amount of money spent on the display can be justified.

“The really positive news is that the money can instead be spent on a whole host of exciting things that everybody can enjoy. More free street theatre, workshops, more free events all round – even some free concerts this year.”

Just a cursory glance at the festival programme guide provides some idea of the profusion of concerts, activities and family-oriented fun. There’s live music, exhibitions, workshops, historical attractions, face-painting, tours of Worcester Cathedral, summer multi-sports activities, talks at the Commandery, wildlife photography exhibitions… these are just a few.

Jaeger added: “The Worcester Festival is not a music festival, nor indeed an arts festival but just… a festival. The festival is for the people of Worcester and Worcestershire and surrounds.

“It is a series of partnerships between large cross-sections of the community, an umbrella for a huge range of activities. It is the coming together of people of all ages, creeds and race.

“It is an opportunity to stage an event, or to attend a large selection of both professional and community events. It is a celebration of life and Worcester, Worcestershire and its people.”

This year marks the 17th Worcester Festival and, despite the inclement weather, successfully got underway on Saturday with a packed programme of both indoor and outdoor events.

The festival runs until Monday, August 26, and – if previous years are anything to go by – will be attended by many thousands of happy people for miles around.

John Phillpott