Canterbury Festival

Canterbury Festival launches this October with three weeks of events, welcoming artists from across the globe to perform music, theatre, dance, comedy, circus, family friendly shows, science inspired events, walks, talks and exhibitions.

Headlining the Festival, Irish rock, blues and soul sensation Imelda May performs at the Marlowe Theatre. Hot on her heels, singer-songwriter Newton Faulkner kicks off his UK tour at the Festival. Ballet Black brings an edgy and powerfully choreographed show to delight dance fans, while author and Michelin-starred chef Tom Kerridge is in conversation with Telegraph food writer Xanthe Clay.

The Festival’s classical offering includes a dash of Russian romance, courtesy of the St Petersburg Symphony Orchestra, with a repertoire of Tchaikovsky, Shostakovich, and Rimsky-Korsakov. Uzbekistan-born French pianist Mikhail Rudy’s programme takes in Russian composer Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition – and a musical interpretation of the art of Chagall; while pianist Freddy Kempf returns to the Festival with a heady rendition of Rachmaninov’s Etudes Tableaux.

The stunning 1920s vintage Spiegeltent graces Canterbury, hosting a sparkling line-up. Catch Australian circus sensation Casus in residence for three nights, and family-friendly circus of a more slap-stick variety, Trash Test Dummies. The Festival hosts hilarious Kiwi comedy act Promise and Promiscuity, as well as cabaret superstar and baritone extraordinaire Le Gateau Chocolat (who this summer featurs in Twelfth Night at the Globe Theatre). The UK’s favourite R&B diva Ruby Turner drops in for one night, Oz Clarke drinks to music, BBC 2 favourite Jo Harman promises to raise the roof, while former Average White Band member Hamish Stuart brings the Spiegeltent to a close. The Tent will return to Kingsmead Car Park

The Festival is proud present two premieres. Tasmin Little – one of the country’s best-loved violinists – premieres Charles Villiers Stanford’s Variations for Violin Solo and Orchestra with the internationally acclaimed English Chamber Orchestra in Canterbury Cathedral, along with Vaughan Williams’ The Lark Ascending. It will also premiere the latest Donnelly & Maltby production, The Masters of Mystery – a Festival-commissioned musical adventure by Canterbury-based composer Ethan Lewis Maltby.

With the spotlight still on local talent, a day is dedicated to Canterbury Sound, the psychedelic and prog rock scene of the 1960s and 1970s that saw the rise of Soft Machine and Caravan. New to the Festival this year, Made in Kent: Dance showcases three Kent-based dancers and choreographers. It joins Made in Kent: Comedy, now in its second year, featuring Kent’s best comedic talent through its annual comedy competition and Made in Kent: Theatre which, in its third year, performs The Lamentable Tragedie of the Canterbury Strangler.

Throughout the Festival, the next generation of young local musicians perform in lunchtime school concerts in the Spiegeltent; while Canterbury Christ Church University presents a series of concerts at St Gregory’s Centre for Music. So much talent right on our doorstep!

And finally, don’t miss the stunning Tapestry of Light by Irene Barberis, a 36m long glowing artwork that lights up Canterbury Cathedral’s Chapter House, promising to immerse the viewer in a neon-coloured story of war, peace and the promise of hope.