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Bewdley Festival

Starts: 12th Oct 2018

Bewdley Festival is a multi-arts festival that has been run by volunteers for 30 consecutive years and with this year’s Festival being the 31st. Every October in our small, beautiful town on the River Severn, we offer 9 evening events and at least 10 in the daytime. In addition we have an art e


Start Date

12th Oct 2018

End Date

21st Oct 2018


Mercure Bewdley, The Heath Hotel


Evenings: Roland Gift, James Acaster, Jeremy Vine, Alan Johnson, Simon Armitage, Prof Alice Roberts, Eddi Reader, Jo Enwright.


Bewdley Festival 2018:
The line-up for this year’s Bewdley Festival has something to meet everybody’s taste throughout another ten days of music, comedy, drama and spoken word during October. This is the 31st consecutive year for the Festival. Once again the Festival has brought together a collection of international, national and local artists to entertain, enthral and challenge the audiences for the whole of the Festival.

It all begins on Friday 12th October, when our stage at the Mercure Heath Hotel will resound to a performance from Roland Gift and his six piece band.

Roland Gift rose to fame as the charismatic frontman for The Fine Young Cannibals and is one of modern music’s true torchbearers. His distinguished career has expanded in recent years to include critically-lauded film acting and musical score work. A great voice never goes out of style, and Roland’s trademark vocal prowess is both timeless and strikingly ahead of his time.

Opening this Friday evening, we present the acclaimed talent of Black Country wordsmith Liz Berry. Backed at times by the beautiful voice of Mish Maybe, and assisted by some well-known local musicians, this astonishing Black Country poetry princess will enchant and entertain.
Hard to follow our opening night, but try we must!

Saturday 13th October brings a Festival favourite to the stage in the afternoon at Bewdley Baptist Church, when Max Keen will help us decide in his own inimitable style whether Edward 1 was either “A Great or a Terrible King”. Whichever is decided, it is certain to be a very entertaining afternoon.

Our evening show brings a very popular young comedian to the stage at the Mercure. James Acaster will be bringing his irreverent brand of humour that covers the strange, the mundane and everything in between. Join James as he works on his upcoming show 'Cold Lasagne Hate Myself 1999'. James’ last three shows and Recap form the upcoming Netflix four-part series, Repertoire. He is the first UK comic to shoot more than one Netflix Original special. His debut book 'Classic Scrapes' made the Sunday Times bestseller list. A whimsical master, he has received acclaim from around the world, including a record breaking 5 consecutive nominations for ‘Best Comedy Show’ at the 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 & 2016 Edinburgh Fringe Festivals. As seen on Mock the Week, Live at the Apollo, Would I Lie to You, QI and Have I Got News for You.

Sunday 14th October provides a classical afternoon show that brings “Opera in the Afternoon” being performed in St Anne’s Church. Local and national singers, including The Opera Studio - Elgar School of Music, treat us to renditions of many of our best loved pieces. If you are a lover of Opera this is a” must see” concert and if you’ve never heard Opera live, perhaps thinking it is ‘highbrow’, this is a wonderful opportunity to test your theory to destruction.

In the evening, we welcome one of the best known voices at the BBC – broadcaster Jeremy Vine. Twice voted Speech’ Broadcaster of the Year’ his daily programme on Radio 2 is now the most listened-to radio current affairs programme in the UK. He has over 25 years’ experience in journalism, including being ambushed by rebels in Croatia, and has boundless stories to relate as he tells us “What I Learnt”. His new book is at the heart of the evening as Jeremy tells us “what my listeners say and why we should take notice”.

Monday 15th October afternoon brings cartoonist Barry Venning to town. Modern art is often considered difficult, but it is much less so when seen through the eyes of cartoonists over the years. The cartoonists could be funny, cruel and at times extremely perceptive. This afternoon will provide an absorbing, illuminating and, above all, funny, revealing and sidelong view of 150 years of modern art all under the banner of “A Child of Six Could Do It”.

Our evening brings to Bewdley former Home Secretary Alan Johnson. Alan is definitely one of our most popular and respected MPs and as well as being an award-winning author and broadcaster, is a lifelong fan of Queens Park Rangers. As Members of Parliament go, he also has a surprisingly good taste in and obscure knowledge of music.
Regularly appearing on Question Time and This Week, we will find an evening filled with matters such as electoral reform, trade unionists, fairness at work and Jeremy Corbyn as Alan explains to us “In My Life – A Music Memoir”.

Tuesday 16th October brings two Natural History speakers during the daytime. In the morning, the ever popular Brett Westwood brings more of his unique thoughts on our countryside to Festival under “Natural Influences”. Brett is the creator and writer of Radio 4’s Tweet of the Day in addition to being involved in various wildlife and conservation groups in our beautiful county.

Today Brett reveals which people and animals have had the biggest influences on his life and career. Expect slugs and toadstools, snakes and swans and of course a strong showing from the wildlife of north Worcestershire.

In the afternoon we present Chris Baines who is one of the country’s leading independent environmentalists. He is a horticulturalist, landscape architect, naturalist, television presenter and author as well as the chair of the Wyre Forest Landscape Partnership.

In 1985 he inspired a generation of gardeners with his book "How to Make a Wildlife Garden" recently re-issued as an RHS Classic and he fills in the gaps during “Wildlife Gardening”.
Our evening presentation features Simon Armitage relating “Journeys”. A former probation officer, Simon Armitage is an award-winning poet who also writes extensively for television and radio. For this event, he will read prose from his entertaining best-seller, ‘Walking Home’, about trying his luck as a modern-day troubadour along the Pennine Way, and journey poems from several collections.

Making a welcome return to Bewdley Festival, but with a very different show from previous visits, Ian McMillan is joined by Ian Beesley on the afternoon of Wednesday 17th October. Using a genuine magic lantern projector, poet and broadcaster McMillan and documentary photographer Beesley tell a story of the First World War from the point of view of men who survived it and lived on to old age and a changing world. Here too are the tales of women who worked in the factories that oiled the wheels of war.
Our evening presenter sees the welcome return of Dr Alice Roberts presenting “Tamed”: three species that changed our world . . .

Join Alice Roberts, biological anthropologist, author and broadcaster, as she delves into archaeology, history and genetics to reveal the amazing stories of three species that became our allies.
For hundreds of thousands of years, our ancestors depended on wild plants and animals for survival. They were hunter- gatherers, consummate foraging experts, taking the world as they found it. Then a revolution occurred – our ancestors’ interaction with other species changed. They began to tame them. The human population boomed; civilisation began.

Thursday 18th October offers a day for enthusiasts! David Parker spent five years making four programmes for television about the revival of steam locomotives in Britain, some of it shot on the Severn Valley Railway, and including the story of the rebuilding of Flying Scotsman.
In this talk David will use clips from the programmes he made for the BBC to bring to life that remarkable story of ingenuity, perseverance and humour.

Along with rare film of the rebuilding of Flying Scotsman, David will talk about how he made the films and some of the problems, and the joys, he encountered along the way, including what it was like working with the celebrity presenters, Robson Green and Michael Portillo.
“The Archers” are back in Bewdley in the afternoon. In a show that will delight the many fans of the radio institution, Tim Bentink, otherwise known as David Archer, will be speaking and answering questions about “Being David Archer”.

The final performance of the day offers jazz enthusiasts the chance to catch-up with amazing performance of The Clare Teal Trio. Four times winner of the British Jazz Singer of the Year accolade, Clare Teal brings her trio to Bewdley, including the hugely talented Jason Rebello on piano.
Clare continues to surge ahead on her mission to bring big band and swing to music lovers everywhere, to demonstrate that this genre is ever evolving and still relevant in today's world.

Friday 19th October In the 100th anniversary year of Women's Suffrage Professor Maggie Andrews, from the University of Worcester, will be enlightening her audience on the details and importance of the Suffragettes in her talk "Hidden Heroines: The Feisty Women who won the vote’.
An accomplished speaker, Maggie specialises in the social and cultural history of twentieth century Britain and the representation of that history in popular culture.

The evening brings a real Scottish gem to our stage. Eddi Reader is widely considered to be one of Scotland’s greatest singers. Growing up in Glasgow and Irvine, it was in those towns that she first learned to use music as a vehicle for communicating with others whilst busking and performing at the local folk clubs.

In the early 1980s, Eddi’s band Fairground Attraction reached a huge audience when the single ‘Perfect’ and parent album ‘First of a Million Kisses’ both hit number one in the charts.

Throughout the subsequent thirty years, Eddi has consistently released enduring solo albums and played thousands of memorable concerts, travelling the world with her music. Time and again her records and concerts showcase a knack for great songwriting and picking a great song, then making it her own. Eddi’s 2018 concerts offer a chance to witness a live performer at the peak of her powers, with an incredible band and a devotion for great music. Expect new songs, old favourites and a night that will live long in the memory.
Saturday 20th October Lesley Smith is Curator of Tutbury Castle, Staffordshire, where she regularly performs from her repertoire of famous women from history and is a firm favourite of Festival audiences.
This afternoon Lesley appears on the stage at the Mercure Hotel to portray the life of Mary, Queen of Scots in her own entertaining and informative manner.

And finally, the correct way to finish such an eclectic programme seems, to Festival organisers, to be with laughter.
Therefore, Saturday evening offers the chance to do so with Jo Enright Presents: A Comedy Showcase, hosted by the wonderful Midlands comedienne Jo Enright.
Jo has worked for more than a decade with many of the UK’s leading comedy writers – Peter Kay, Steve Coogan, Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant to mention but a few. She is a highly acclaimed stand-up comedienne in her own right but in addition Jo will be introducing some of her Friends throughout the evening.

Other Festival Events:
Sunday 21st October: We close Festival with a special Family Church Service involving local schools and recently formed ‘Festival Voices’ at St Anne’s Church.
Another aspect of Festival is its Visual Arts Exhibition.
29th September to 27th October: Bewdley Museum’s Wyre Forest Gallery showcases the vibrant work of Rob Hamp: author artist constructor.

The outcry from his ditties are presented in a visual format. The mechanics of this identifier systematically allows rob to purge the narrative complexities of his practice chapter by chapter.

It is the truth to material that outweighs whether any selected object is found, previously used or manufactured, allowing for a concise evaluation of what is real, unreal, true and untrue within the make-up of each of the characters and their multi-dimensional plots. The audience is left to decide the outcome with minimal evidence, “on the face of it”.

29th September to 27th October: The Duck House Trail returns to Jubilee Gardens. A repeat of this highly successful and enjoyable Community Arts Project featuring an even bigger and better display of this year’s newly designed Duck Houses.

29th September: Literary Day
Our Literary Day opens with local writer Heather Flack in St Georges Hall.
In the afternoon we welcome Gill Paul, best selling author of “The Secret Wife”, “Another Woman’s Husband”, “The Lost Daughter” and other multi-million best sellers.

We continue with an evening presentation by Stuart Maconie . Stuart is an author, radio presenter on BBC Radio 6, DJ, critic and journalist writing in the field of pop music and popular culture. His work has been compared to Bill Bryson, Alan Bennett and John Peel and has been described by The Times as a “national treasure”.

Disabled Facilities

Yes. Specific spaces available.


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