Rye Arts Festival 11th-27th Sept 2015
Most small to medium size towns, apart possibly from an annual carnival or fete, have little or no major event in their calendar to unite or inspire the community.
Others, if the community is really fortunate, have one major event that stands out every year!
The medieval walled town of Rye – just three miles from our Camber Sands holiday cottages – is not like most towns!
Having laid claim to superior cultural events with its superb annual International Jazz and Blues Festival at the end of August – and before the vibrations of the tenor sax, trombones and bass guitars have even died away – yet another major headline cultural event comes to Rye – namely the 44th annual Rye Arts Festival 2015 that covers no less than 17 days in September commencing on Friday 11th September.
This blog can only scratch the surface of what is in store and give a mere snapshot of some of the headline events and the people bringing them to you – and what people some of them are!
Following in the footsteps of major names from the world of Jazz and blues on Rye’s cobbled lanes comes an assortment of equally prestigious practitioners from the arts embracing its many facets paintings, music, theatre, dance and the literature.
For example BBC Arts Editor Will Gompertz will discuss the late film maker Derek Jarman – of Super 8 fame – with the producer James Mackay one of the foremost experts on Jarman at the Kino Cinema on Sunday 13th.
Local artist Charlie Cobb – the man who really painted the pictures used in the film Mr Turner – is at the Kino the following day recounting how he got the job and set about faking work by Britain’s greatest artist!
World renowned Canadian pianist Angela Hewitt makes her first visit to Rye at St Mary’s on the 15th and fellow pianist, the award winning Alexander Panfilov, whose solo recitals have enchanted audiences in Moscow, New York, Vienna and Zurich, appears at the same venue the next day.
To make it a hat-trick of events for piano aficionados an extraordinary three days of piano events at St Marys comes to a conclusion on the 17th when Peter Donohoe – Silver Medal Winner at the Moscow Tchaikovsky Competition and Martin Roscoe demonstrate their huge repertoire as a piano duo.
Irish Music, a Magna Carta explanatory lecture and a variety of dance events serve to demonstrate the diversity and range of the Rye Arts Festival.
Pupils of the Rye Dance Centre are sure to delight their followers and newcomers to their routines alike on Sunday 20th September at the Milligan Theatre – named after one of Rye’s most famous, and certainly most eccentric, residents. Former goon Spike Milligan lived in Idimore for 10 years from 1988 until his death in a house that he denounced as “the ugliest house in the world’.
He is now buried in the churchyard at nearby Winchelsea – where his tombstone further demonstrates his unique sense of humour the epitaph reading “Duirt mé leat go raibh mé breoite”, Irish for “I told you I was ill.”
You can see it if you visit Winchelsea for another of the festival events as there are also a superb range of walks and tours not just featuring Rye and but also Winchelsea and another of its fellow Cinque Ports New Romney.
The Romney Marsh Churches Tour includes a pub lunch at the Ship Inn in Dymchurch known for its cask ales. Casks or barrels also feature in the other Cinque Ports visit to Winchelsea where expert local guides will take you to the 13th century barrel-vaulted cellars – in this case almost certainly minus the cask ale!
Closer to home there is a choice of 2 days for just 15 people a time to engage in a walk around the historical sights of Rye with the focus on its Medieval and Tudor eras.
One of the standout events at this year’s Rye Arts Festival is undoubtedly the Oldie Literary Lunch at the George Hotel.
The Oldie Literary Lunches have become a venerable institution on the London literary scene since they were first launched in 1996. Usually held monthly at Simpson’s-in-the-Strand, the lunches feature three speakers who each address the audience for ten minutes.
Having extended in recent years to the Buxton Festival Oldie have this year chosen Rye as another of its first out-of-town venues.
The event features Harry Mount, Robert Douglas-Fairhurst and Times Columnist and self-confessed English Language pedant Oliver Kamm.
Further proof if it were needed that Rye is not just any small English town!
Beside The Sea Holidays, who provide a superior holiday homes letting and management service for home owners in Camber and their guests, believe that the Rye Literary Festival is yet another example of what this beautiful corner of England with it’s history, culture and year round calendar of events – including things to do and places to eat – has to to offer to guests.