The Ironbridge Gorge will be a fantastic fiesta of arts, crafts, culture, music, film, poetry, family-friendly events and food and drink when the Festival of Imagination kicks off this September.
The festival, organised by Telford & Wrekin Council, with funding from Arts Council England’s Cultural Destinations Tourism Fund runs between September 14-29.
Presented by the annual Ironbridge World Heritage Festival, this year’s theme is all about creativity and imagination in a fantastical way which will celebrate the past, present and future of the Gorge.
Carolyn Healy, Telford & Wrekin Council’s cabinet member for visitor economy & the world heritage site said: “Things are now starting to take shape for the Festival of Imagination.
“We are delighted to be able to announce just some of the great things coming to the Ironbridge Gorge.
“The film, poetry, walks and art programmes will be a great and engaging part of the festival, but they will be just a part of some of the great things we have going on, so keep your eyes peeled for more exciting news.”
Here is a round-up of the first wave of events which have been organised, with many more to be announced in the coming weeks.
There will be a film programme throughout the festival which will run as part of the Telford Film Festival.
“Let’s go fly a kite” at the Film In The Yurt event at Dale End Park on September 22 where there will be a special screening of Mary Poppins Returns and will include a special family kite making session beforehand.
There will also be a food and film night on September 20 at Maws Crafts Centre where there will be a New York style buffet followed by a special evening showing of Breakfast At Tiffanys.
For those who like trekking there will be plenty of opportunities to lace up those boots for over 80 miles of walks of differing lengths and difficulties around the Gorge showing off some of its historical sites and great views and vantage points.
One of the longest walks is the 20 mile challenge walk which crosses all five bridges of the Gorge on September 22. While a challenge this walk will provide some of the very best sights of the Ironbridge Gorge.
For dog lovers there will also be a leisurely evening walk through the Gorge among other dog walkers on September 18.
Throughout the second week of the festival, the Secret Severn Arts Trail will be in full flow with artists and artisans from across the Gorge throwing open their doors and studios to the public.
The Secret Severn Arts Group was formed in 2016 with the express purpose of promoting art in the Gorge and was the brainchild of two established local printmakers – Hazel McNab and Amanda Hillier.
The group and it now has around 45 members, who are all based within the Ironbridge Gorge area and people will have the opportunity to visit 18 venues to watch artists at work, participate in workshops and purchase a range of art at affordable prices.
Poetry will be running throughout various locations across the Gorge throughout the festival.
Highlights include a Poetry & Tea event with Jane Seabourne, Bert Flitcroft and Marion Cockin at the Moon Gazing Hare tent at the mini-festival village at Dale End Park on September 14.
Comedy poets Bingham & Woodhall will perform on September 20 at the big yurt, Punjabi Poetry will be performed at the same venue on September 22 and there will be a special poetry walk with Simon Fletcher from Madeley to Ironbridge on September 28.
The poetry programme will conclude with a Slam Poetry event hosted by the group poets, Prattlers & Pandemonialists at the big yurt on the night of September 28. If you are a poet who would like to take part in the slam then contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
The Ironbridge Gorge was the birthplace of the first industrial revolution, and throughout the festival the Severn Gorge Countryside Trust is offering visitors the unique chance to experience some of the skills that contributed to that.
This is a rare chance for people to try their hand at unusual skilled crafts such as iron smelting and charcoal making.
There will also be the chance to see some projection and 3D imagery over the first weekend of the festival within the museum of Iron Furnaces.
Some events listed will be free of charge, while others will be ticketed. For a full programme of events and to find out prices visit ironbridgefestival.co.uk