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Canterbury Festival 2020 set to go ahead this autumn despite coronavirus pandemic


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Organisers have confirmed Canterbury Festival is still set to go ahead this autumn despite the pandemic.

While many of the city’s major events including its Christmas ice rink, the Marlowe’s pantomime, and Canterbury Pride have been cancelled due to the Covid-19 crisis, those behind the hugely popular annual celebration of the arts have decided the show must go on.

The traditional opening parade through the city will not take place
The traditional opening parade through the city will not take place

They have announced plans to run a reduced festival this October with small-scale events, social distancing and limited capacities.

Director Rosie Turner said: “It’s not exactly business as usual but we are trying to produce the next best thing.

“Of course everything might change, but we are hopeful that Canterbury Festival will be part of our city’s recovery from Covid-19 rather than its casualty.

“Safety comes first, and I expect it will feel strange to be sitting at distance, but we felt it was important not to let down our loyal customers.

“I hope people will take their own precautions - wear a mask - and enjoy some respite from the stress that we’ve all lived with in recent months.”

The Barely Methodical Troupe are set to perform. Picture: Chris Nash
The Barely Methodical Troupe are set to perform. Picture: Chris Nash

Organisers say the small-scale festival is unlikely to break even, but they are determined to push ahead, despite being aware the coronavirus situation could change dramatically before autumn.

Ms Turner added: “We realise that all our efforts may come to nothing, but felt we had to make preparations in the hope live events will be able to go ahead indoors with social distancing.

“We were not ready to give up, nor were our performers.

“So come October, if we get the green light, there will be a festival to enjoy.”

Canterbury Festival has taken place every year since 1984, and this will mark its 37th year in Canterbury. It will run between October 17 and 31.

Vocal ensemble Tenebrae will be performing at the festival's opening event. Picture: Sim Canetty-Clarke
Vocal ensemble Tenebrae will be performing at the festival's opening event. Picture: Sim Canetty-Clarke

Its traditional opening parade through the city’s streets will not take place this year.

Instead, the two-week event will launch at Canterbury Cathedral with a dramatic performance by award-winning vocal ensemble Tenebrae, accompanied by local harpist Camilla Pay.

The festival will also celebrate Beethoven’s 250th birthday, with acclaimed pianist Joanna MacGregor performing all 32 of the composer’s sonatas across eight concerts.

The award-winning Barely Methodical Troupe will perform their hit Bromance, which brings together theatre and “show-stopping” acrobatics.

Meanwhile comedian Hal Cruttenden will delight comedy lovers with a night of stand-up.

An array of speakers will also discuss everything from history to national security.

For those unable to attend in person, some events will also be online.

The full programme will be announced in late August with priority tickets for Festival Friends available from September 3, and general bookings from September 14.

For the latest news and information, visit Canterbury Festival's website, or follow the festival on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @canterburyfest.

Read more: All the latest news from Canterbury

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