Wells October Festivals 2016

View of the Cathedral from the Market Place

Wells is England’s smallest city but in October it will punch above its weight and play host to no less than four different cultural Festivals.  Literature is celebrating its 24th year with another strong line up of authors covering subjects as diverse as Shakespeare, the Pope, politics, humour and weather, together with a performance by Austentatious, from 14th to 22nd October.  Chair Emma Craigie welcomed the other Festivals which will bring delicious food, beautiful music and inspirational art to the City.

Liz Hand, Chair of WAC (Wells Art Contemporary), explained that the fifth annual international competition and selling exhibition is showing for the first time in the magnificent Bishop’s Palace. The new venue offers plenty of scope for large two and three dimensional work, as well as smaller, more intimate work.  The exhibition, which is open daily from 8th to 22nd October, always attracts excellent work which is selected by internationally-regarded artists and curators.  First prize is a 10 day exhibition at the prestigious 45 Park Lane Gallery, in Mayfair, London with a press launch and full publicity.  Previous winners sold out all of the work they took to London.

One of the most popular events is the Food Festival which attracts 10,000 visitors to the City.  ‘It is a brilliant showcase of all that is wonderful in the County,’ said organiser Paddy O’Hagan, ‘with farmers, producers and specialist retailers demonstrating that the Land of the Summer People has such excellent and diverse     raw ingredients, which attracts both talented chefs and discerning diners.’  This year, there will be 150 pitches with a wider range of street food.  New attractions include an area exploring how Wells could become a Sustainable City and a photo competition based on farming and the landscape.  It takes place on Sunday 9th October.

New this year is a partnership with Wells Cathedral.  Matthew Owens, Organist and Master of the Choristers said:  ‘Collaboration between the arts and these innovative festivals is a wonderful thing. I am thrilled that, in this first year of the Wells Festivals coming together, we have invited the Master of the Queen’s Music, Judith Weir CBE, in residence to compose ‘Leaf from leaf Christ knows’ for new music wells 76-16.’

The launch will take place in the £10million new community Cedars Hall within the grounds of Wells Cathedral School whose opening coincides with the four Festivals.

So, in 10 minutes, the visitor can walk from the 21st Century Cedars Hall, through Vicars’ Close (believed to be the only complete medieval street left in England), past the magnificent west front of the first English cathedral to be built entirely in the Gothic style from the past with an astonishing variety of modern culture.

Liz Hand sums up the collaboration:  ‘The four festivals joining together to publicise and support the October events is a brilliant way to promote Wells as city of culture in all its rich diversity.’