What’s on in Wells this summer

There's plenty to look forward to this summer at Bishop's Palace in Wells (c) travellinglight / Gett

There's plenty to look forward to this summer at Bishop's Palace in Wells (c) travellinglight / Getty Images - Credit: Getty Images

Here are some reasons why Wells is our summer capital of culture

The cathedral city of Wells, undoubtedly a popular year-round visitor destination, always comes alive in the summer with a wealth of arts events, exhibitions and performances, many taking advantage of the city's splendid gardens and historic buildings. From outdoor theatre and film screenings to classical and contemporary concerts, not to mention exhibitions, workshops and family activities, there are bound to be arts, crafts and cultural events for all ages to enjoy in Wells this summer. And while our list is far from exhaustive, it proves that Wells is the place for culture vultures to flock to this summer.

Theatre al fresco

Wells' picturesque surroundings make it the perfect place to stage outdoor theatre, so it's no surprise that the magnificent Bishop's Palace becomes the backdrop for a range of fantastic theatrical performances during the summer. This year's programme kicks off with a visit from Palace favourites The Pantaloons.

On July 28, The Lord Chamberlain's Men present A Midsummer Night's Dream, performing Shakespeare's sparkling comedy as he intended it to be seen - in the open air, in full Elizabethan costume and with traditional music and dance.

Two further productions follow soon after, with Boxtree Productions' The Legend of King Arthur on August 4 promising to be a magical performance in front of the 13th century Palace, and on August 16 the season finale is a wonderful adaptation of Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights.

All productions begin at 6.30pm and audiences are invited to bring a picnic blanket or seating along with a picnic and drinks.

Outdoor family events

The Bishop's Palace is another place to keep little ones entertained throughout the holidays. The fun begins on July 24, when the first of the summer trails will be created - each week of the holidays a different trail will encourage children to explore the gardens.

Every Tuesday from July 30 until August 20, children can join in with the Crafty Cats family activity sessions from 10.30am-3pm in the Undercroft. The sessions will follow a weekly theme and kids can make their own mini hot air balloon.

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On Thursdays (August 1, 8, 15) from 11am-3pm there's a chance to enjoy the popular Nature Ninjas family garden fun sessions with a range of garden and nature-based activities.

One of the highlights of the summer at the Palace is the Midsummer Mayhem Family Fun Day on August 4 from 10am-4pm. This year, there will be an Alice in Wonderland theme, with inflatable castles, crazy croquet, face painting and plenty of games and crafts. All activities included in standard admission

Get creative

A venue worth seeking out for those who love arts and crafts is the Somerset Guild of Craftsmen shop on Broad Street. The hub of activities of the guild, established in 1933, the shop always has a wonderful array of artistic craftsmanship on display by Guild members, as well as a changing programme of exhibitions by guest artists and designers.

As well as a variety of workshops held at the Guild shop, members hold workshops at their own studios including mosaics, jewellery, enamelling, wood turning, stone carving, glass blowing, letter cutting, linocut printing, stained glass making, embroidery and quilting.

Summer exhibitions

Heritage Courtyard Gallery and Studios in Sadler St is worth a visit, not only to see the fine work on display but also to find out about a wealth of classes and workshops run here.

This year the gallery is also curating a contemporary fine art exhibition at the Bishops Palace, entitled Re-Formation. Running from July 22 until October 6 the show promotes work by artists of all ages, many of whom have begun creating art in later life. An intriguing array of media make up this hugely varied exhibition, including collage, mosaic, performance, monotype, moving image, drawing, ceramic and installation. Entry is included with standard admission to the Bishop's Palace.

From July 16-27 the Wells and Mendip Museum will be displaying a free exhibition entitled Somer Inspirations.

Exhibitors include textile artist Alicia Merrett, surrealist landscape artist Caroline Walsh-Waring, painter and sculptor Charlotte Moore and acrylic and oil painter Cliff Mylchreest - each of whom has a unique way of depicting the local landscape.

Meanwhile renowned artists will also be showing their work at the Wells Art Contemporary from July 19 until August 11.

This free exhibition of some of the world's finest contemporary art will be on display within Wells Cathedral's magnificent cloisters, in the contemplative Camery Gardens and the Cathedral itself.

Music will become the focus at the cathedral on July 27 for the Somerset Chamber Choir's performance of Bach's St John Passion, a dramatic and moving work that will feature world class performer James Gilchrist in the key solo role. The performance, which starts at 7pm, will be accompanied by specialist baroque ensemble the Musical and Amicable Society, playing authentic contemporary instruments.

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