Canterbury Festival: What’s NOT to Love?

A look at some of the most dynamic cultural explorations over the course of Canterbury Festival...

Canterbury Festival is well and truly underway as the international arts festival nears its centenary – having first been started by George Bell, then Dean of Canterbury, all the way back in 1920. Guests over the first editions included the likes of T.S. Eliot, Gustav Holst and Dorothy L. Sayers but now the festival lasts a grand two weeks with over 200 events and in excess of 65,000 festival attendees marking it out as a one-stop shop for culture.

Among the more diverse explorations of culture you can find will be the wonderful Melvyn Tan’s performances of Schubert and Beethoven at Shirley Hall, The King’s School, on October 29th. Born in Singapore, the British classical pianist has hit the top of his game with a reputation for his study of historical performance and his incredible dedication to the practise and refining of his skills.

Internationally acclaimed from as far back as the 1980s, the fortepiano maestro continues to astound audiences the world over to this very day and embarked on a multi-country tour in 2016, marking his 60th birthday.

Known for his pioneering performances with insight, imagination and artistic brilliance, Tan will apply all of his knowledge to provide a unique show with delicate articulation and a subtle vibrance of colours and melodic wonder.

If stage performances are more your thing then we’d strongly recommend paying a visit to the Marlowe Theatre this Tuesday (October 23rd) to catch a glimpse of “Slapstick”.

Presented by Wereldband, this Dutch music-theatre group went down to rave reviews at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and are bringing their eclectic performance to Canterbury for one night only.

With a nod to the past and comedians such as Charlie Chaplin, Spike Jones and Grock, Slapstick takes inspiration from their predecessors to showcase a spectacular collection of musical comedy turns. Tradition steeped with a modern twist, the show is a musical virtuosity packed with emotion and humour.

Of course it wouldn’t be a performance fit for the Canterbury Festival if there weren’t, say, speed-skating ballet dancers of flying violins well, guess what? Slapstick gives you both of those and plenty more head-scratching combinations that will tickle your belly along the way.

De Volkskrant describe the show as, “A phenomenal production. The five performers refer to rich traditions whilst being unbelievably innovative.”

And even if THAT doesn’t tickle your fancy it isn’t a problem because throughout the festival an array of notable speakers will be visiting the city with tales of their own to bestow upon you;

October 24th at the Cathedral Lodge sees leading newscaster Mark Austin discussing his career in television – spanning 30 years and still counting – and his journey from “general reporter” on the Bournemouth Daily Echo to Sports Correspondent for ITN, main anchor on ITV News at 10 and, now, the U.S. Correspondent for Sky News at the most crucial period in U.S history.

Lifting the lid on television secrets, Austin feeds you the inside line with anecdotes from his time in Iraq, South Africa, America and various other locations as an eye-witness to some of the most memorable stories worldwide.

A week later it is Pierre-Emmanuel Taittinger’s turn to discuss and dissect his career in the winery business. Three years ago Taittinger purchased a slither of farmland in Kent – Chilham, to be precise – and in that duration has been responsible for thrusting English Sparkling wine at the forefront of every connoisseur’s palate.

Join Taittinger for a frank discussion on the history of his family’s champagne house, their affection for Kent and why the combination of chalk soil, climate and topography here is ideal for producing quality sparkling wine.

Two weeks of simply stunning events across the city, you really are spoilt for choice!

Oliver McManus

Special Guest

Hello! I'm currently studying at Canterbury College, in my second year of a journalism course and when I'm not studying or serving pizzas at Pizza Hut you'll often find me either writing or asleep!