Live music, comedy, theatre and much more at Ely Arts Festival

Suitcase Shakespeare Romeo & Juliet show.

On Sunday June 27, Babylon ARTS are bringing Lamphouse Theatre to Jubilee Gardens with two, free performances of their Suitcase Shakespeare Romeo & Juliet show. - Credit: Maciek Platek

Live music, comedy and theatre are among the highlights of Ely Arts Festival which returns next month after a Covid-enforced hiatus.

Taking place from June 12 and 27, the festival (renamed from Isle of Ely Arts Festival) includes events organised by local groups and the festival's volunteer-run committee.

Opening the festival period, Britten Sinfonia will be presenting Surround Sound: Ely Playlist at Ely Cathedral on June 12.

Britten Sinfonia will be presenting Surround Sound: Ely Playlist at Ely Cathedral on Saturday June 12.

Britten Sinfonia will be presenting Surround Sound: Ely Playlist at Ely Cathedral on Saturday June 12. - Credit: Benjamin Ealovega 2019

Then, the festival’s title event, Spirit of the Fens, takes place on June 19.

It will bring together live music from the Lantivet Duo with recorded performances from local school and community choirs and a unique view over Ely thanks to drone footage accompanied by music.

Improvised Book Club will perform live comedy in the grounds of St Mary's Church on Saturday June 19

Improvised Book Club will perform live comedy in the grounds of St Mary's Church on Saturday June 19 - Credit: ELY ARTS FESTIVAL

On June 26, the festival will present Jubilee Jamboree - a free family day of drop-in craft activities, a teddy bears’ picnic with ‘Shake-Rattle and Roll’ and music from the bandstand in Jubilee Gardens.


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On the final day of the festival, June 27, Babylon ARTS are bringing Lamphouse Theatre to Jubilee Gardens with two free family-friendly performances of their Suitcase Shakespeare Romeo & Juliet show.

The events programme also includes live comedy at St Mary’s Church from The Library Presents and a Fen Speak online open-mic poetry night.

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Chris Parsons, festival committee chairman, said: "We are delighted to present a refreshed and relaunched Ely Arts Festival this 2021.

River by Lory Beat (for use on Spirit of the Fens event)

The Spirit of the Fens concert takes place at Ely Cathedral on Saturday June 19. River by artist Lory Beat - Credit: LORY BEAT

"A small team of volunteers have been working tirelessly to bring an exciting series of wide-ranging events that are accessible, engaging and feature a range of different art forms.

"To ensure the safety of all our audience members, all COVID-19 requirements will be adhered to.

“We believe that the arts are needed more than ever before to bring communities back together to enjoy the vibrant arts scene of East Cambridgeshire.

"We are especially keen to engage with families and young people and we hope that our festival offers something for everyone.

"Whether it’s enjoying a children’s Teddy Bears Tea Picnic concert in Jubilee Gardens, being part of the ‘Fen Stitch Together’ quilt or enjoying an afternoon of outdoor Shakespeare, we’re determined to showcase the wealth of local creativity this area has to offer.

Shake Rattle and Roll Band will play a free drop-in event at Jubilee Gardens on June 26.

Shake Rattle and Roll Band will play a free drop-in event at Jubilee Gardens on June 26. - Credit: ELY ARTS FESTIVAL

"The festival will also shine a light on some amazing projects that have taken place during lockdown from local groups who showed that the arts didn’t stop.

"We want to celebrate the enduring, creative spirit of the fens.

“We want to take this opportunity of relaunching the festival to thank members of the original festival committee who worked tirelessly to organise the event each year; particularly former chairperson Shelia Friend-Smith and former treasurer Jackie Moakes.

"Without their determination over many years of involvement, the festival wouldn’t be here today.”

The Ely Arts Festival 2021 is sponsored by Lovewell Blake Chartered Accountants, Busy Bee Recruitment, Poet’s House and Silver Oak Coffee.

The festival committee will also be launching a crowdfunding campaign in the coming weeks. 

Everyone is invited to enjoy this years’ festival, with opportunities for all ages. People can begin now, by participating in the ‘Fen Stitch Together’ community quilt project, led by festival committee member and artist Louise Beale.

Everyone is welcome to contribute to a quilt project that would act as a memorial to the shared positive experiences of the pandemic.

Louise will work with local schools to give children an opportunity to make their own textiles square to be included on the quilt.

For more information click here.

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