Many happy returns to the Bury Festival

Bury Festival Gandini

Bury Festival Gandini - Credit: Archant

. . . and several new things too. The Bury Festival turns 30 this year so Andrew Clarke spoke to director Nick Wells about the treats in store at this annual cultural fiesta

Bury Festival Gandini

Bury Festival Gandini - Credit: Archant

The Bury Festival’s 30th anniversary is a mix of new events and the return of some old favourites.

It makes a feature of celebrating local talent and involving arts organisations across the community, and brings to Suffolk leading creative talents from around the country.

As always the Apex will be the focus of the festival, but Bury Theatre Royal and The Abbeygate Cinema will have a major role to play.

Festival manager Nick Wells said to mark this milestone anniversary the aim is to make sure the whole town is swept up in the festival spirit, and to celebrate the origins of the event by adopting a words and music theme.

Bury Festival 1960s Songbook Joanna Eden

Bury Festival 1960s Songbook Joanna Eden - Credit: Archant

“The origins of the Bury Festival can be found in the literary lunches held at The Angel Hotel in the early 1980s. These were three-day weekends which were all about good food and some great authors coming along and talking about their life and their work. There were some music events put on to complement the talks.

“The Angel had jazz in the cellars and after a few years some concerts were staged in the cathedral over the weekend. It was at that time the decision was taken to formalise the event and turn it into a proper festival and involve the whole town, and expand the range of events on offer.

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“What I have always loved about the festival has been the juxtaposition of different art forms.

“I love the fact that you can put seemingly disparate performers together and something new and exciting emerges. It’s the sort of the thing that really only happens in a festival situation.

“A glorious example of that is food writer and TV presenter Jay Rayner’s appearance at this year’s festival.

He’s performing his one man show My Dining Hell but, for the first time, he will also be playing piano with his jazz ensemble. So we’re calling that part of the show My Jazz Heaven.”

So, combining art-forms will be a highly visible feature of the event, bringing together exciting pairings of words, music, film, dance, art and juggling in ways that will surprise and capture the imagination of audiences.

The festival also offers an opportunity for local performers – amateur and professional – to get involved.

Singers will get a chance to perform in a 200-strong choir with Global Folk – successor to the popular Mbawula township chorus – while West Suffolk Youth Jazz Orchestra and Bury Busk provide a stage for talented local musicians.