Welcome to the King's Lynn Festival Blog
Big birthday coming our way!
As we head towards the end of our current year it’s difficult not to be distracted by thoughts of the coming celebrations when we mark our 70th anniversary.
We are looking forward to a very special year and already working on ideas and projects to ensure it is one to remember, and is a true celebration of all that King’s Lynn Festival was created for.
First on the agenda will be our early programme, from January to May, which is taking shape now and promising to offer a broad spectrum of events – film, live performance and talks – which will lead us on to the main event in July.
There has never been a better time to become a sponsor, friend or volunteer and join the Festival family which has been bringing high-quality performers to King’s Lynn for seven decades. Take a look at the Support Us section on this website to find out more.
The anniversary festival is going to be a tremendous event for King’s Lynn, West Norfolk and the wider area and we look forward to welcoming familiar faces and new friends to our venues.
Keep an eye on our social media and website for regular updates and, if you’re looking for a great Christmas gift, why not buy a Friend or Patron package? Have a look here for all the details.
Life at the King's Lynn Festival!
Posted on 13/07/19 by Gabrielle, Work Experience
I started my work experience at the King’s Lynn Festival on Monday and straight away I was put into a role of responsibility and work order, I spent the day getting rooms ready for workshops for primary schools and being in charge of locking and unlocking doors and creating a safe space for young children, I really enjoyed the responsibility as I felt like I was being treated as a grown-up and got to help out in seeing what really happens in this profession. Throughout the week I got to take part in helping out in workshops with young children which was a lot of fun and a new experience.
I also took part in doing office work such as creating questionnaires and helping with marketing by creating posters for upcoming events and putting together leaflets. This taught me a lot about media in this type of industry and how important it is to help the event run smoothly. I also got to speak to Ema about how to manage events which is what I am interested in doing in my future and was incredibly helpful.
I also learnt about Gustav Metzger an incredibly talented artist and although I am not interested in art I have come to enjoy learning about him and the arts. Lastly the best part of the experience where the team they were welcoming treated us like adults and created a friendly and fun working atmosphere and without them I wouldn’t have enjoyed it as much as I have, overall I have really enjoyed this week at the King's Lynn Festival and have learnt a lot about work-life and this has made me feel even more positive about doing event management in my future.
Posted on 16/10/18 by Kate Francis, Marketing Officer
The long hot summer held on for the entire two weeks of our main festival in July, and for two of the three days of our first EXTRA festival weekend in October. Over the last few years, we have been increasing the number and variety of events we hold outside of the July festival fortnight. This year, supported by a grant from the New Anglia LEP, we staged the first of three EXTRA festivals, to be held in the "shoulder months" of the main tourist season. Twenty events crammed into 3 days created quite a buzz in the town, and if you missed it, you can still catch the excellent Place exhibition in the Fermoy Gallery until 3 November. The next EXTRA festival will be in April, with a 'Shakespeare flavour' - the new brochure will be out in January.
Rounding Up Our Year-Round & Our New Office
Posted on 09/05/18 by Kate Francis, Marketing Officer
Next week sees the last of our 11 year-round events, an early music quartet put together by our Artistic Director to celebrate the start of King's Lynn's Hanse Festival. The box office for the 68th King's Lynn Festival opened a couple of weeks ago and tickets are selling well for many of the 33 events we have on offer this year, with 4 already sold out.
Since writing my last blog entry, we've moved offices to the historic Guildhall complex - the road through the archway on King Street has just been named St George's Courtyard - we've also ramped up our education work and have just started working on delivering mini-festivals with a new funding stream. Additionally, the new office affords us the use of 3 terrific spaces which can be hired from us - the Fermoy Gallery, the Shakespeare Barn and the Red Barn. So its all go at the moment!
Posted on 11/08/17 by Kate Francis, Marketing Officer
So the 67th annual festival (and my fourth) is done and dusted and there's just enough time to relax for a summer holiday (a bit of sunshine would be nice though!) before our Financial Year end when we start all over again! The feedback from this year's festival has been very encouraging and we look like we are on target to break even - which doesn't sound great, but as a charity, we want to put all our income back into bringing great concerts to King's Lynn rather than paying dividends to shareholders.
I managed to catch 11 concerts this year, as well as having great fun with Vladimir & Anton at our day of free music on Sunday 16 July, when the guys wore Tennis Whites in honour of the Wimbledon final being played the same time they were on stage. As usual, I loved every event I was able to see, but there were three events which were especially memorable.
Minima's live score to the silent classic film Cabinet of Dr Caligari was a fantastic evening. I hadn't seen the film in full before, and to see it on the big screen in the medieval guildhall with such accomplished musicians was terrific. I would love to see them at the festival again soon.
The Demon Barbers XL Disco at the Tavern show in the Corn Exchange on Friday 28 July was certainly the most energetic. It may have taken us 67 years to get break dancing and hip hop into the King's Lynn Festival but it was certainly worth the wait! The combined showmanship of front-man Damien Barber and the vocal talent and wit of fiddler Bryony Griffith (great harmonies guys!), this was a cracking evening of funky folk like I'd never heard before. It was great to see all ages enjoying the show.
My absolute favourite event was pianist Luka Okros' coffee concert on Wednesday 26 July. With a programme of Schubert and Rachmaninov, it was bound to be good, but Luka's stunning playing was emotional, precise, gentle and commanding in perfect balance. If he can do that to Schubert, I definitely want him back for some Chopin! I bought his CD and have played it every day to remind me of this truly outstanding performance of this young pianist from Georgia.
Box Office Opens
Posted on 28/04/17 by Kate Francis, Marketing Officer
Following several months of frantic activity to launch the 67th annual festival and administer the membership scheme, I am catching breath as (some of!) the workload shifts to the box office. We are still in our first week of tickets going on general sale as I write this, but we've already sold more than half of all seats for the BBC Concert Orchestra and 3 other events at the Corn Exchange aren't far behind. The weekly sale figures come out on a Monday and we have a little competition in the office to see if we can guess the figure. The person who guesses worst has to make the tea for the rest of the week!
If you haven't seen a brochure yet - do let me know and I will post you one. They are also available at key venues in town and further afield.
Posted on 10/10/16 by Kate Francis, Marketing Officer
The first of four Coffee Concerts took place on Friday 7 October. The super-talented 19-year-old pianist Yuanfan Yang wowed a full house at the Town Hall with a programme which included his own composition, Waves. The piece was beautifully evocative of the motion of the sea from calm to swell, both relaxing and exhilarating at the same time. His programme also included Rachmaninoff Moments Musicaux No.4 and Chopin Etude in A minor (Winter Wind) - fiendish challenges for the left hand which he made seem effortless. Let me make it clear I am no music critic and certainly no expert, but I think that it was obvious to everyone on Friday that Yuanfan is an exceptional talent with a bright future as a performer and composer. I hope we can book him for the Festival again soon - if we do, I predict we will sell out quickly.
Jo's last week...
Posted on 02/09/16 by Jo Jones, Communication and Events Intern
It is my last week here at the King’s Lynn Festival and the six months have absolutely flown by! I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here, exploring Norfolk and the surrounding areas. It was a great insight to work with such a great team to create a festival with such world-class performances. I loved seeing all our hard work come together and hearing all the great feedback from the audience.
I have just finished archiving all the old posters and brochures from the previous years- all the way back from 1951! It was amazing to see all the historic information and all the fantastic acts we’ve had over the years.
I’ve also been busy scheduling all of the stewards for the winter season, it is so fantastic to have so many willing volunteers that help support the festival. I have learnt so much in these short months, which will help me greatly in the future. I would like to thank King’s Lynn Festival for the great opportunity they have given me to learn the behind-the-scenes of such an incredible arts organisation.
The King’s Lynn Festival is a very special festival that brings such culture and variety to the town, I was very honoured to be part of it. I hope you all have a great winter season and a fantastic summer programme - which I know you will! I will greatly miss everyone and would love to come back and visit next year!
Team of 2016 L-R: Jo, Alexis, Kate, Ema
Post Festival Blues
Posted on 08/08/16 by Jo Jones, Communication and Events Intern
The festival kicked off with a day of free events to promote the festival and have some fun. As I had had a big part in organising this, it was incredible, (and a relief!) to see it all come together so smoothly. We were very lucky with the weather and all our acts and supporters were brilliant throughout. We had tubas trumping their stuff in town as well the Hoofbeat street band. We were also lucky enough to have Cube Café, an amazing little car with an espresso machine in the boot and Tim Love’s fantastic ice cream bike. The highlight of the day was watching Ema and Kate dancing like crazy with the silent disco headphones on. The Norfolk Knitters also provided a whole lot of atmosphere with their 1940’s tunes and wool workshops. All in all the day was a great success and a great way to start the festival.
I thoroughly enjoyed looking after the artists and making sure they had everything they needed backstage. I loved meeting all the stewards as I knew all their names from organising the steward’s schedules but meeting them face to face and getting to know them was a lovely experience.
Another part of the festival I enjoyed was helping set up the Susan Bacon exhibition in the Fermoy Gallery with our star gallery manager Zoe.
A big highlight for me was the Hands on Harps sessions run by Morwenna and Creag with their little son Django. Watching everyone learning to play the harp together, from all different ages, was a great event.
Although I am now very sad the festival is over we are already busy preparing for the winter season and trying to bring some order back to the office!
What a scorcher!
Posted on 19/07/16 by Kate Francis, Marketing Officer
Thanks to everyone who came along to our free outdoor events on Saturday in King's Lynn town centre. The weather was perfect and the mix of jazz, classical, folk, disco and knitting certainly entertained! We handed out 1,000 brochures and hopefully encouraged a few people who haven't attended one of our events before to come along over the next fortnight.
We've had a fantastic variety of music already - the first night's Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra performance of popular classics and movie music received a standing ovation. Conductor Tim Redmond's interaction with the audience was highly entertaining - and I've never seen a conductor jump so much! My personal favourite piece of the evening was Dukas' Sorcerer's Apprentice, usually played by a much larger orchestra, the arrangement lost none of the appeal and was inventive and quirky in producing the required 'big sound'.
Last night we had back-to-back performances from Contemporary Consort and Lau. Our featured composer was Toby Young and the consort's wonderful musicians played to an appreciative (if rather hot!) audience. I always enjoy listening to new and unfamiliar music and thought the programme ably demonstrated the breadth of Toby's considerable composing talent. Then after washing up 80 glasses and bundling everything into the back of the Festival car (thanks to Mercedes-Benz of King's Lynn!) I caught up with Lau, who played at Latitude Festival at the weekend. I've listened to some of their music on SoundCloud but I wasn't prepared for their amazing, atmospheric and intimate live set. I'd put in the brochure that The Guardian had said they were "The UK's best live band" and I would have to agree they are definitely up there! I bought their latest CD after the gig and got them to sign it for me (had to be done!) and have been playing Ghosts on repeat ever since...
So, only 3 days into the 66th Festival, and so many riches already discovered - what comes next is going to be great - and very hot!
Posted on 10/05/16 by Jo Jones, Communications & Events Intern
Hello, I’m Jo the new Communication and Events Intern at King’s Lynn Festival. I am a recent graduate from Arts University Bournemouth in Costume with Performance Design where I had the honour of winning the Scenography Design Prize. I have worked in set and costume design for Winchester Youth Theatre, in opera with Dorset Opera Company and as AsOne Theatre company, while also creating and producing my own performance pieces.
I have had a variety of roles from creating a Halloween Ball in the Barbican Vaults to working as a stitcher on-board a cruise ship in Mexico! I'm an enthusiastic individual who enjoys turning stories and characters of the imagination from novels and scripts into designs for the stage. I am also interested in the unlimited ways in which materials can be transformed through textiles, and narratives told through masks and puppetry.
The opportunity of being part of such a fantastic programme of arts while learning the ‘behind the scenes’ of how such a company works is an incredible experience - one I look forward to greatly!
Halfway there already
Posted on 22/01/16 by Kate Francis, Marketing Officer
An awful ordeal for a lovely lady
Posted on 04/12/15 by Kate Francis, Marketing Officer
Posted on 23/09/15 by Kate Francis, Marketing Officer
Posted on 21/08/15 by Dan Brown, Communications & Events Intern
It’s been a while since my last blog post (over 2 months I believe), lots has been happening! The King’s Lynn Festival from 12th-25th July was a great success! All the prep-work and busy July schedule seemed to pay off. I personally got to see two fantastic performances.
Viva Vivaldi on the 12th July exposed me to the fantastic European Union Chamber Orchestra - got to sit near the front and soak in their brilliant string ensemble performances. The King’s Lynn Festival Chorus joining on the ‘Gloria, Vivaldi’ performance was particularly memorable; amazing how they can all fit on stage!
Benjamin Grosvenor on the 23rd July was musically inspiring. I helped to steward before the event started and watch him rehearse in St. Margaret’s Church venue. The combination of an amazing performance situated in a grand church with dusk setting in proved to be an atmospheric event. The crowd gave a standing ovation at the end; well deserved to someone with such a bright musical future.
The tasks I’ve been involved with during my internship have been varied. Working with the Lynn Museum and their intern Morgan was an interesting balance of learning the rich history of the Festival and getting the displays done for the deadlines. I’ve visited many of the historic buildings around King’s Lynn now for one reason or another, mainly to distribute the variety of brochures and leaflets we produce or to relay important info across to them. I spent a lot of time scheduling and planning the town events for the 25th July, and apart from an early morning cancellation due to bad weather, it seemed to run successfully (balloons went down a treat for the kids).
All the Festival banners around King’s Lynn town were put up and taken down by me throughout the festival. Now the festival’s over, it seems we’re looking ahead to the new Year-Round events starting on 17th October. I’ve already processed a lot of ticket sales in the office for the Fairey Band concert, it seems the festival has a loyal fan base who are willing to get involved in the events our festival has to offer.
I would encourage others to see what King’s Lynn Festival is about, as between their small but hardworking team organising it all, they bring a great level of culture and music to the area that perhaps locals may take for granted.
In Full Swing!
Posted on 21/07/15 by Kate Francis, Marketing Officer
I can't believe we are already more than halfway through the 65th Festival! We've had some truly remarkable performances so far. I've managed to catch a few of the events this year and have loved the variety and the professionalism of everything I've seen.
I had the pleasure of meeting many of the artists including Andrew Graham-Dixon, and listening to his art appreciation masterclass. I guess I was expecting him to mention Caravaggio, which he did, but I wasn't expecting such a great story about modern art collecting and ham sandwiches!
The Contemporary Consort on Monday 13 July again exceeded my expectations - I am not a classical music buff by any means, but I was absolutely enthralled by Howard Skempton's Lullaby for clarinet and cello - it really was one of the most enchanting pieces of music I have ever heard.
I really enjoyed Swinging at the Cotton Club - it sadly wasn't a sell-out, so I grabbed a seat near the back of the Corn Exchange, but I think I got one of the best seats as you could really appreciate the Jiving Lindy Hoppers' choreography from up there.
Yesterday was the first of our free pop-up concerts. After their two sell-out concerts (at Westacre Theatre and the Town Hall) I had the pleasure of taking the lovely Solem Quartet to play a short informal concert at Rathskeller Bar on the South Quay. When I happened to mention that I used to run a rock music festival, in my honour they did a great version of a Guns n Roses song.... wasn't expecting that!!! Those guys can literally play anything... they are amazing...
This year we are handing out postcards as a different way to collect audience comments, so come and find me at one of the events and say hi!
Second blog post from Festival Intern
Posted on 07/05/15 by Dan Brown, Communications & Events Intern
From the opening of general public Festival booking on 27th April, ticket sales for events I’m monitoring such as the ‘Hanseatic Walk’ in July and the ‘Francis Bacon Exhibition’ in June have taken off. Hopefully, this trend continues throughout May. My involvement in brochure distribution has also increased a lot. The 28th and 29th April saw me going around areas such as Spalding, Wisbech and Long Sutton delivering our Festival brochures to various shops, offices and Tourist info centres. The 5th May also provided a chance for me and Kate to go to the Norwich Forum with a stall to let passers-by take our brochure.
As the time has gone by new jobs have been arising for me, ranging from getting Festival T-Shirts printed with our Logo, helping to organise a charity shop window display competition and also contacting the museum’s intern in King’s Lynn to help with a Festival Museum display showing off old pictures, programmes and documents of the Festival. One of my long term projects right now is to co-organise the free pop-up events that will take place in King’s Lynn town centre on the 25th July. These will be 5 events happening throughout the day, ranging from a children’s cushion theatre event to a whole choir performing in the town! Doing this is helping me to learn about all the pre-planning that goes into making this happen, from scheduling, health & safety, budgeting, as well as simply getting permission for the area or from the artist(s). Hopefully, all goes well on the day, (as long as the rain stays away).
I expect May will continue the trend of odd jobs popping up for me to do, as well as planning/monitoring the existing things that are in the works right now. The Festival seems to be slowly creeping up on us now, I’ve reserved my ‘Viva Vivaldi’ tickets already!
Our first sell-out for 2015 already...
Posted on 29/04/15 by Kate Francis, Marketing Officer
Proof that we weren't over-stating in our brochure when we said that
Andrew Graham-Dixon was "hugely popular" arrived this morning with a phone call from our Box Office to say we have very nearly SOLD OUT only 2 days after tickets went on general sale!
Could it be because Andrew has been described as "the most gifted art critic of his generation", or his broadcasting achievements, or his many female fans in King's Lynn... I'm not sure, but after watching his BBC series Italy Unpacked with chef Giorgio Locatelli, I'm glad he is coming back to the Festival and I'm looking forward to his talk on the Art of the Low Countries.
First blog post from Festival Intern
Posted on 08/04/15 by Dan Brown, Communications & Events Intern
Since starting my placement at King’s Lynn Festival on the 9th March 2015 as a ‘Communications & Events Intern’ I’ve been tasked with a variety of duties, from updating databases, updating websites, proof-reading material, sorting and franking mail, editing ticket/poster imagery and info, as well as handing out our members leaflets to various companies and buildings around King’s Lynn town. The inevitable solving of office equipment issues through phone calls or manuals has also occurred. I’ve also been given a tour of the various venue locations in use at the festival, as I am fairly new to the town of King’s Lynn.
It’s been an interesting first 4 weeks on the job, getting to know the office processes and learning where things are. I can say that I’ve set up an internet Franking Machine, something I have never done (or used) before. The festival events are becoming ingrained into my head, as the amount of proofreading and website updating has exposed me to all the details of the acts involved. From being here I have learned of the historic weight this festival carries, with certain festival members or locals seeing the festival develop over many years. As it states on the website, this will be the 65th festival! I’ve also learned of the high culture calibre of events in this festival, with classical artists and educational/academic talks on offer. This style of act has also been a tradition of the festival.
April time onwards should prove to be busy as tickets go on sale, it shall be interesting to see what acts sell faster than others. I believe new tasks and jobs will occur for me as time gets closer to the actual events in July, which should also be a busy period indeed. For now I say roll on the next 4 weeks (and roll on the good weather)…
A milestone - the 65th Festival brochure is finished!
Posted on 13/03/15 by Kate Francis, Marketing Officer
I'm delighted that I have recently completed my first 12 months in post! This week has also seen us complete the main Festival brochure - to be printed in full colour for the first time in the Festival's history - and our intern, Dan Brown has started. Friends and Patrons are signing up for the 2015 season, and local businesses have been generous in giving us members discounts to improve our membership offer this year. The team are very busy as there are only 120 days before our opening concert, Viva Vivaldi!, featuring the European Union Chamber Orchestra and the King's Lynn Festival Chorus, with two award-winning sopranos Keri Fuge and Sarah-Jane Lewis. The brochure will be out soon - but meanwhile lookout for our colourful diary leaflet in venues around town, or download a complete programme here.
Samuel Lane (1780 - 1859) Portraits Exhibition
Posted on 17/12/14 by Kate Francis, Marketing Officer
I recently received a rather unusual request - and another chance to dive into our archives. Malcolm Dunkeld, Lecturer and Researcher at South Bank University is looking for a copy of the catalogue for the Centenary Exhibition of portrait artist Samuel Lane held at the 1959 King's Lynn Festival. It was apparently the only exhibition of Lane's work ever held in his home town.
Although I couldn't find a copy of the catalogue for Malcolm, our 1959 festival programme says of Lane's portraits "all are 'speaking likenesses' and take our minds forcefully back to the days when Parliament had yet to be reformed, slaves to be emancipated, the French and the Americans to be driven off the seas and the poor to be provided with schools."
I found some of Lane's works in the National Portrait Gallery archives and thought about what life was like for Lane, who although deafened and speech impaired from a childhood accident, achieved considerable success as an artist in his own lifetime, and whose paintings now fetch six-figures at auction. If anyone knows where Malcolm might find a copy of the 1959 exhibition catalogue, then please get in touch!
In conversation with Festival Board Member Sue Burge
Posted on 12/11/14 by Kate Francis, Marketing Officer
I have been getting to know some of our Directors a little better, in preparation for updating our About Us page. Poet and Tutor Sue Burge was kind enough to answer some of my slightly off-the-wall questions...
Q: “Sue, how did you first become involved in the Festival?”
A: “I've been coming to Festival events since around 1987 when I married a Linnet and heard about the Festival.”
Q: “What do you most like about King’s Lynn and West Norfolk?”
A: “It's a very friendly town and the buildings are incredible. I went on as many of Paul Richards' walks as I could whenever I came to King's Lynn and he really opened my eyes to the history of the town and made we want to be a guide myself so I could pass on this enthusiasm. I love how accessible the Norfolk coast is from King's Lynn and, as I don't drive, having great rail access to London, Cambridge and Ely is a fantastic bonus.”
Q: “So what’s your favourite Norfolk Day Out, Sue?”
A: “My favourite Norfolk day out would be to jump on the Coasthopper bus for a coastal walk - maybe Burnham Overy Staithe to Wells. Then a lunch of chips and mushy peas, a look at all the great bookshops and small independent shops in Wells and perhaps a half-pint on the Albatross before catching the last Coasthopper home.”
Q: “What about your favourite Norfolk Night Out?”
A: “That would be going to one of the King's Lynn Community Cinema Club's great film nights. It's like having an art house cinema in King's Lynn, but much cheaper and with a very eclectic choice of films and in a superb heritage venue, St George's Guildhall in King Street.”
Q: “I know you are a classical music lover, but can you recall what first got you hooked?”
A: “Well, Kate, all my early memories of classical music are from ballet, which I loved. Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake was probably the first piece I noticed.”
Q: “So who would you say was your favourite composer?”
A: “I am very drawn to Russian composers, particularly Rachmaninov, perhaps because one of my favourite films is Brief Encounter. I also love Wagner's music, particularly the Ring Cycle, those amazingly primeval opening chords of Das Rheingold always move me however many times I hear them.”
Q: “One last question Sue – what is your favourite musical instrument and why?”
A: “That’s almost impossible to answer, Kate, as it changes with my mood! I would have to say I love the deep, emotional resonance of the cello.”
Who would you like to hear from next? Let me know on Twitter @KLFestival
Do You Remember 1974?
Posted on 01/10/14 by Kate Francis, Marketing Officer
We are having new IT equipment soon, as our old PCs are whirring and groaning and sometimes refusing to work at all! Wednesday was one of those days so I landed up shutting down the computer and found myself wondering how offices functioned at all before we became slaves to IT systems. So after several phone calls, tidying up the office and having a cuppa, I opened the archive where the old programmes are kept. Choosing the 1974 programme almost randomly (the programme cover matched my skirt!) I found these absolute gems... Hope you enjoy them. If you do, please help me choose another year: Tweet to @KLFestival
Advertisers included a "coiffeur for ladies and their daughters", and some cars you might remember.
But some things don't change...
The varied programme included Chopin on one page, George Melly on the other, plus a few faces I recognised including Joyce Grenfell.