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It’s festival time in Frome!

f608 Frome Festival Brochure Cover with WordsFROME is gearing up for the biggest and best ever Frome Festival which gets under way this Friday, 4th July.

Organisers have signed up some of the best comedy acts and live musical talents the country has to offer, alongside fascinating talks, exhibitions and workshops. And in a jam-packed programme of over 200 events, there is something for everyone.

Frome Festival creative director Martin Dimery said, “Ticket sales have been excellent so far and it seems like interest is even greater than before. We were always hopeful that top acts like The Levellers and Paul Merton would sell out, but it’s good to see interest in some brilliant but less well known acts too.

“It’s always easy to pick the famous names as Festival highlights, but, as director, I get the greatest pleasure from booking acts who are less well known and giving them a platform.

“This year I’m particularly keen to see Albare the Moroccan/Australian guitarist, who is well known in other countries and trying to build an audience here. Also Snowapple from Holland are a superb female folk trio who are selling well already at the Granary. Also I’m expecting comedian Paul Chowdhry to be a sensation. He’s been on TV a lot, but is yet to become a household name. His material turns political correctness on its head. I think he can impress just as much as Reginald D Hunter did a couple of years ago.

“The opera at Cooper Hall, Hansel and Gretel, will be stunning. I’ve seen a little of the rehearsals and Morag McLaren is directing it brilliantly. It will be a wonderful, accessible performance that all lovers of opera or musical theatre should see.

“It’s good to be working alongside the newly established Frome Children’s Festival, who are presenting workshops in the Frome Festival, prior to their own event peaking later in the month. It has helped us offer more for all age groups. We have just over 200 events in the 10 days this year, of which more than 50 are free.

“I hope people who don’t think the Frome Festival is for them, will pick up a brochure and check out some of the talks and workshops available. The historical walks, craft events and the ever popular Hidden Gardens tour are just as important to us as the performances. We really want the people of Frome to participate and enjoy the Festival, whilst inviting visitors to experience the wonderful history, culture and arts we offer in Frome.”

What not to miss during Frome Festival 

If you’re still trying to decide what to do during the festival, 3rd to 13th July, there are still tickets for many events, with many free events on offer too.

Although some workshops have now sold out at time of going to press there are still a few places on the Jane Austen Dance workshop, Making a Felt Hat, Hula Hooping Skills, Perfume Making, Drumming, Blues Harmonica, Patchwork Paper Piecing and Poetry workshops.

The World Food Feast on Saturday 5th July will be bigger and better than ever this year. Bring a flag or make your own banner to wave and join the Frome Street Bandits outside St John’s Church at 5.30pm for a celebratory procession to the Food Feast with music from Acoustic Plus.

Eat, drink and enjoy live music in Frome’s riverside setting, with an exciting mix of world food stalls offering a range of cuisines. There will be plenty of space to stand and dance, or sit and relax, with a dedicated area for children’s activities put on by the Frome Children’s Festival.

A+ will present live music with bluegrass from the Festival Sessions, the captivating singer-songwriter Daisy Chapman, pop-pickers The Pigeons and a grand funky Afrobeat finale from The Sea Slugs. Also this year the festival is happy to announce inclusion of a Travelling Market, and limited edition festival bags, with this year’s poppy design, on sale.

The Festival has an exciting line-up of emerging and well known favourites at The Granary (The hidden venue behind the George).  After the Food Feast why not head over for an evening of Blues with Eddie Martin?

And later on in the week …….

on Monday enjoy John Law’s electric project ‘BOINK!’, Tuesday an evening of folk with Ange Hardy, Wednesday an evening of Bengali folk-fusion with KHIYO, Friday 11th ‘Clayson sings Clayson’ a crazy evening of ballads and prog rock, and to finish up the week on Saturday a Dutch Folk band Snowapple.

There are many unusual and eclectic events this year. If you’re free during the week, Bonhams of Bath are offering valuations at Frome’s very own Antiques Roadshow at the Cheese and Grain on Tuesday and a Vintage Bike Ride will be held in Victoria Park on Thursday.

On Sunday 6th violin virtuoso Billy Thompson is bringing his immensely popular Gypsy Jazz style to the Rook Lane Arts, promising a night of high energy, soulful musicianship and panache. Men in General, a five- piece force of male vocal antics will perform on Saturday 12th.  Described as: “The Goons of Harmony, A cappella at its best- and much more, Droll, witty chat and lovely, uplifting music.” Fake Thackray closes the festival on Sunday 13th at Rook Lane.  John Watterson performs the songs of the great Jake Thackray. Exquisitely funny, satirical, incisive, irreverent, witty and gloriously un-PC – and sometimes all of these at the same time.

If it’s Art you’re into, the Open Studios will be open both festival weekends, with some opening during the week as well. Please see Open Studios booklet, available at the box office or the library, or you can download a trail map at: www.fromefestival.co.uk/event/frome-open-studio-map.

There are many independent art exhibitions going on during the week at La Strada, Divas Café, the Cheese & Grain, Christina Oswin Jewellery. Frome Museum, Black Swan Arts, The Silk Mill and St John’s Church.

This year above the Grace Gallery (The Old Pound Stretcher Shop) you can also catch the evening opening on Saturday 5th from 6.00pm till 8.00pm of ‘Substances’ (Raw materials re imagined), which will continue during the week. At the Edventure Welshmill Hub, Frome Artists Thomas Lynn and Mr Sleven present a live art performance show/exhibition OWTCIDER JREEMTYME with visuals provided by VJ Ultra. The event is free of charge and BYO.

The Blue House Open Garden, with entertainment and refreshments, will be open both Saturday and Sunday from 11.00am the first weekend of the Festival. It’s a mini festival and it’s free, with the bands such as the Frukes (Frome’s Ukulele band) and a Hog Roast.

This year The Hidden Gardens will be open on the 2nd weekend for three days, from Friday 11th-Sunday 13th, with maps available from the Cheese & Grain Box Office and Enigma Pottery. A unique opportunity to explore the town and peek into private gardens normally hidden from view.

For comedy this year festival punters are spoilt for choice, with the New Act Competition Final kicking off at the Old Bath Arms, the winner will take home a trophy, cash prize and win a spot at the Submarine Comedy Club on Thursday 10th. If it’s top comedy you’re after, tickets are also still available for Paul Chowdhry on Thursday 10th and Seann Walsh on Saturday 12th.

There are tough decisions to be made on Saturday 12th with Madchester legends the Inspiral Carpets playing the Cheese and Grain, Folk award winners Salt House at Cooper Hall, or dance your socks off at Sensonic at the Silk Mill, which now has a 2.00am licence confirmed.

Of course it’s not possible to mention everything here, from literary events, to classical music, opera, health walks, yoga ….. Please see full line-up and events listings: www.fromefestival.co.uk/line-up – Box office: 01373 455420.