Literature and ideas delight
Poet Ian McMillan and his son Andrew, accompanied by two choirs brought the curtain down on a record breaking festival last night, in the magnificent setting of the Church of St Mary in the Baum. Crowds turned out in their thousands over the 6 days to watch top names including Jenny Eclair, Owen Jones, Simon Callow, Alastair Campbell, Mark Steel and Joanne Harris take part in our 4th annual festival.
More than 3,200 tickets were sold, the most in our history, with over 1,500 more attending un-ticketed events throughout the festival and earlier in October 2016.
The festival proved a big hit, across all ages, with sold out performances every day.
Councillor Janet Emsley, Cabinet Member for Culture, Health and Wellbeing at Rochdale Borough Council, said:
“I attended many inspiring events throughout the last few days and this was definitely our best year yet. We’ve had a real julietta casino online mix of well-known international names, prolific writers and also some less celebrated acts all playing to capacity audiences. The number of positive comments we have received from far and wide is fabulous. We also introduced some great new venues and improved many aspects of the festival, which is some achievement when you consider how good last year was. This festival has provided visitors with plenty of food for thought and the atmosphere has been so vibrant. To attract such big names and have BBC6 Music broadcast live for three hours is a great coup for our borough, and many performers have told me how they love the audiences in Rochdale. I’d like to thank all the festival staff, volunteers and partners, who all helped to put together this celebration of culture, arts and ideas.”
The festival kicked off last week with an afternoon with Ann Cleeves at Rochdale Town Hall – one of Britain’s most successful crime writers.
Barrister, rhetoric coach and authority on Shakespeare Benet Brandreth talked about his debut novel, The Spy of Venice.
Political activist and author Owen Jones spoke for well over an hour to a capacity crowd at the Curtain Theatre, putting forward his passionate arguments for re-examining the British political system.
One man human beatbox Testament took the crowd at Hopwood Hall College Theatre in Middleton on a journey of lyrical flavour, using beatbox, rap, spoken word and song to create worlds of past and present.
Multiple award winning crime authors Mark Billingham and John Connolly ‘In Conversation,’ chatted about their best-selling novels and the murky world of crime fiction, and the writer, communicator, commentator and strategist Alastair Campbell provided a fascinating look into his life in politics, coinciding with the launch of his new diaries – Outside, Inside, 2003-2005.
On Friday BBC Radio 6 Music broadcast live from Rochdale Central Library, including live performances with festival guests Mark Steel and Testament. Singer/songwriter Billie Marten, last year nominated for the BBC Sound of 2016 Award also took to the stage for a captivating set, with the show presented by DJ and television personality Lauren Laverne.
Other highlights included the ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral,’ ‘Room with a View’ and ‘Shakespeare in Love’ star Simon Callow CBE, talking about his life and work.
Comedians Mark Steel and Jenny Eclair performed hilarious and thought provoking shows at Middleton Arena. Chocolat author Joanne Harris MBE, and writer Elizabeth Chadwick were also big draws.
A packed Roald Dahl themed children’s programme saw scores of youngsters taking part in a trail around the town centre, and the Wheatsheaf Shopping Centre hosted ‘Tales from the Giant Peach,’ with a giant inflatable and magical adventures all day on Saturday.
Children’s entertainer John Piper returned with his timeless puppet show and Ellenroad Engine House held ‘Spells and Smells’- wacky science experiments for kids inspired by George’s Marvellous Medicine.
Playwright Ian Townsend, authors Nikesh Shukla and Ursula Holden Gill also made appearances, alongside Amani Creatives – a collective of artists who showcased African music, storytelling, spoken word and dance.
The Fringe Festival, organised by All Across the Art saw local authors and performers enjoy 4 hours of creativity in Rochdale’s Bar Vibe.