A look ahead to Scarborough’s Coastival 2014 and other Yorkshire coastal events

Giant sea monsters prepare for battle in Orpheus © Tony Bartholomew

Giant sea monsters prepare for battle in Orpheus © Tony Bartholomew - Credit: Tony Bartholomew

A guide to events at the seaside compiled by Janet Deacon

Coastival 2014 is THE festival by the sea. And if all goes according to plan, the three-day event will help to take Scarborough into the record books as the home of the world’s largest puppet. A towering 26 metre-high Hades, Lord of the Underworld, will rise in the town’s Valley Road at the culmination of Orpheus the Mariner, a two-night extravaganza at the festival featuring over 750 local performers including 100 drummers, who will provide a stirring soundtrack for an epic battle of giant sea creatures. The performances, on the evenings of February 14th and 15th, are the inspired creation of the Animated Objects Theatre Company, run by Lee Threadgold and Dawn Dyson-Threadgold. Lee has a master’s degree in puppetry, and Dawn was for many years company stage manager to Alan Ayckbourn at the Stephen Joseph Theatre.

In 2012, the couple produced giant puppets for the York 800 celebrations and Lee was artistic director of the London 2012 Inspire Mark Sporting Giants project, which brought 23 York primary schools together to build huge puppets to celebrate the Olympic Torch visit to the city. Fired up by the success of these projects, they dreamed up Orpheus, a spectacular story of love, loss and adventure based on the Greek myth. It’s a truly community event: not just those 750 volunteers on the night, but a year’s worth of workshops with schools, colleges, organisations and individuals in the town making lanterns, musical instruments and, of course, the puppets themselves.

It will all come together along the glorious sweep of Scarborough’s South Bay, starting at 5.45pm with the lantern procession on Friday, and at 5.30pm on the Saturday with the Gathering of the Heroes. Each performance will last around 90 minutes, and it’s free – what are you waiting for?

Music during the festival which runs from February 14th-16th includes the Brand New Heavies, Yorkshire jazz favourite Clare Teal, and The Lock in Dance Show - a unique mix of folk and hip-hop, set in a traditional English pub and featuring the Demon Barbers.

But there’s more to Coastival than just music. Shadow Encounters (Friday and Sunday, morning and afternoon) promises ‘a unique theatrical experience in a darkened alleyway’ in the town centre.

Acclaimed company Tavaziva Dance, this year celebrating its 10th anniversary, holds a workshop at the Stephen Joseph Theatre on Saturday, and performs there on the Sunday.

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There are two literary lunches at the Crescent Hotel, hosted by Deborah Moggach, author of the novel behind the hit film The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, on Saturday, and prolific crime writer and After Henry creator Simon Brett on Sunday.

Rollercoastival, running alongside the main festival, offers creative stuff for kids, including lantern making, a comedy club for children under-six, art and comedy workshops, and enough storytelling sessions to keep any adventure-hungry youngster happy.

And so far, I’ve just scratched the surface: there are dance workshops, art exhibitions, installations and open studios, family-friendly street theatre, workshops, movies from Bollywood and Hollywood, and so much more. In a nutshell – Coastival is a must-visit festival which will brighten the dreariest month of the year!

Also in Scarborough in February, four headline events at the Spa: Irish comedian Ed Byrne (February 12th); legendary Queen guitarist Brian May together with singer Kerry Ellis in The Candlelight Concerts (February 21st); One Night Only, a charity gala featuring the town’s very own Matt Flint, winner of So You Think You Can Dance 2011, and with proceeds going to charities including the Yorkshire Air Ambulance (February 22nd) and Pink Floyd tribute act Think Floyd (February 28th).

At the town’s Stephen Joseph Theatre, the live streamings of theatre and opera in the cinema are proving hugely popular – this month’s is the National Theatre’s War Horse (February 27th).

And Saltburn Arts Centre marks St Valentine’s Day with the Happy Cats: a drop of Irish, a shot of Cajun, a little country, some folk, a spoonful of salsa, a twist of tamla and 30 years of rock ‘n’ roll experience from former Lindisfarne vocalist Marty Craggs.

Janet Deacon is North Yorkshire area director of Welcome to Yorkshire

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