The 2010 Exeter Summer Festival will provide more free events and performances than in any previous year in its 16-day festival – taking place June 25 – July 10.
The arts extravaganza will light up the city’s streets, venues, parks and public spaces with star performances from across the arts and heritage worlds
The council’s decision to include so many free events builds on the festival’s ethos to make art performances and general events accessible for a wide audience.
Internationally-renowned Dutch artist Theo Jansen’s magnificent kinetic creature is one of the most dramatic free festival events. Produced by the Spacex, Exeter’s contemporary arts gallery, it will go walkabout on the streets of Exeter’s Princesshay between July 2 – 4. Theo has been developing mechanical, skeletal like sculptures for the last 20 years and will unveil his latest work at the Festival and on Exmouth Beach. Powered by the wind, the self-propelled 40-metre creature, will take its place at the creative heart of the Summer Festival experience. The Spacex will showcase Theo’s first UK exhibition at the same time.
Other free events include mesmerising daytime flash-opera excerpts, family friendly historical re-enactments, a military parade to celebrate National Armed Forces Day and a party on the streets culminating with show-stopping finale fireworks.
Ancient Exeter comes alive in the opening days with the Living History Weekend (June 25-27) – a chance to chat with a centurion, lock horns with a Viking or keep the peace between the Roundheads and the Royalists. The event celebrates Exeter’s 2,000 year-old history with a traditional military procession (June 26).
Other family highlights include the opening day Lammas Parade (June 25), a lively procession led by the Lord Mayor and the City’s Alderman, historical re-enactors and Exeter schoolchildren, celebrating the ancient Lammas tradition, as well as the chance to raise Exeter’s Cathedral roof by joining the hundreds of young voices taking part in a vast choir celebrating living in Exeter (June 28).
Craft afficionados will be in for a treat with artists from all over Devon gathering on the Cathedral Green for the annual Exeter Craft Festival spread over two days (July 2-3), and for pottery lovers a similar event will take place on the quayside (July 2).
In keeping with the key festival aim to make performance art accessible for a wide audience the city council will bring opera into the 21st Century with Flash Opera performances of excerpts from La Traviata, performed by the New Devon Opera Company. Impromptu 25-minute bursts of gorgeous arias will be sung by costumed opera singers – surprising city shoppers on Saturday, July 10 with key scenes performed in front of the gathering crowds.
The festival takes to the river Exe in the closing days with boat racing leading the way on the closing weekend. Spectators will be able to watch the thrills and spills of the City of Exeter Regatta – where rowing teams compete to race a 400-metre course (July 10). On Sunday, July, 11 the gruelling sport of dragon boat racing takes place – 18-man teams compete in this national league event.
Finishing the festival with a bang will be a lively free afternoon/evening of music, and partying on the city’s streets. A free tea dance kicks off proceedings at the dance stage on Princesshay at 4pm (July 10), followed by up-tempo salsa and jive with Dance in Devon. As the rhythm begins to flow, street entertainers will be drawing gasps from the crowd as live music, DJ’s and children’s activity areas in Rougemont Gardens and Exeter Castle, bring the centre to life. A spectacular firework finale will close the festival with the skies of the city lit-up as the dancing continues into the night.