CHESTER Performs, the city’s leading cultural producer, has announced a summer packed with festivals and new events running from June to August.
The season is now sponsored by MBNA under the terms of a major new agreement, and the city-based credit card lender is to put its name to a new unified cultural what’s on guide, titled the MBNA Guide to the Summer.
The guide itself will feature a season of music and theatre events happening across the city’s many parks and public spaces.
From virtuoso violinists, supersized papier-maché parades, outdoor cinema screenings and Shakespearean delights, there is a huge range of exciting and often free shows and activities on offer for all ages.
June gets off to a musical start with the launch of a new classical music festival, now produced by Chester Performs.
Running from June 1-16, the 2013 MBNA Chester Music Festival is a vibrant and new classical music festival.
The festival includes the creation of a new world class chamber ensemble, Ensemble Deva, produced here in Chester but featuring some of Europe’s finest chamber musicians.
Former Catatonia singer Cerys Matthews also makes an appearance. Chester’s Town Hall is to be transformed with new seating for the event.
The music festival also features a 60th anniversary celebration, in the cathedral and featuring the Chester Festival Chorus, of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, who was crowned on June 2, 1953.
Celebrations continue throughout the day (Sunday, June 2) when Chester Giants bring Bugs Royale to the city’s streets.
A procession of huge 12ft papier mâché giants stomp through the heart of Chester’s Tudor centre, in the annual Giant parade.
With Chester Rocks (June 15-16), the Midsummer Watch Parade (June 21-22) and the Chester Mystery Plays (June 26–July 13), June looks to be one of the busiest months the city has seen.
Chester Performs’ own celebrated season of Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre returns to the park from July 5-August 25, with a programme which is already selling extremely fast.
The nationally renowned ‘picnic theatre’ – the only full-time professional open air theatre outside of London – is the ideal trip out for family and friends.
Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Othello and a new adaptation of the swashbuckling adventure story, Cyrano de Bergerac, are performed in rep, regarded as the among the best open-air theatre available in the UK.
On every Saturday throughout July and August, Chester Performs are staging free attractions aimed largely at young audiences and running in the city’s Roman Amphitheatre.
Highlights include Mad Hatters tea parties, a weekend of giant board games, science experiments and bicycle bingo.
Even tiny tots can join in the fun with dressing up, dancing and storytelling sessions on offer.
Chester Performs have also announced the return of open-air cinema to the city centre, with a new season to be staged in the Roman Garden.
Titled Moonlight Flicks, the twilight cinema will screen a selection of family and more grown up movies.
The films’ audio will be streamed through headphones and the season will run Thursdays to Saturdays throughout July and August.
Cllr Stuart Parker, Cheshire West and Chester’s portfolio holder for culture, believes the city is make major strides in both quality and quantity.
He said: “We are absolutely delighted to see such a summer packed with such a wide range of wonderful, quality events and festivals.
“It’s brilliant to see such productions all made in Chester – the Mystery Plays, the open air theatre, the music festival. It just shows how far we have come in just a few years.
“It is exactly these kind of innovative and accessible initiatives that make us such a strong candidate for City of Culture 2017, and which will ensure our new theatre is a great success when it opens.”
John Greaves, director of corporate affairs at MBNA, added: “We believe that arts and culture are important to the vibrancy of our communities.
“The MBNA Guide to the Summer is intended to give people all the information they need to know about this year’s wide programme of events that we hope are enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of people, from Chester and wider afield, this year.
“We are proud to be involved in a programme of activities that will showcase all that is special and unique about this city.”
Andrew Bentley of Chester Performs said: “The city’s hoteliers have said to us on a number of occasions that they feel visitors need better information on events, and more to do in July and August.
“Having one co-ordinated and simple guide to major events is a fantastic way of communicating better with our customers.
“We asked MBNA to help with this and we are delighted they are on board. For July and August, we have extended the open air theatre to eight weeks and three productions, created new family Saturdays in the amphitheatre and a new open air cinema during the same time.”
Copies of the free guide will be distributed throughout the region and full details of all of the above events will be available at www.mbnaguide.co.uk from May 2013. Further details on Chester Performs’ programme are available at www.chesterperforms.com.