Chichester Gala offers day of free family fun and togetherness

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Chichester Gala will once again put the emphasis firmly on free, family entertainment in a day of fun for the Festival of Chichester in Priory Park on Saturday, June 29 from 11am-9pm.

Community will be key to a day which is all about bringing people together – all organised by Chichester City Council who revived the great Chichester gala tradition a couple of years ago for the Queen’s platinum jubilee. It went so well that the City Council decided to make it an annual event and have expanded the budget.

Town Clerk Sam Tate is delighted at the way the revival has been embraced: “It is hugely important. It is a historic thing. I can remember when I was a child the gala being a massive thing and looking forward to it for a long time. There is certainly the tradition to it but it's so important these days that there is something that is free for the whole community to come together to enjoy and that it is something that is right in the middle of the city, absolutely for everyone. At the moment people are struggling with the cost of living which makes it so important to offer people something that they can come and enjoy at no outlay, something where no one should feel excluded. The council have given us a bigger budget this year for putting it all together which recognises how important the gala has become. We've extended it and we have upped the quality of what we're offering and we're investing quite a lot more money in the entertainment this year and it really is great entertainment. It is all about the shared experience and about creating the collective memories.”

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Claire Adams, front of house supervisor at Chichester City Council, has been key to putting it all together: “As Sam says, it is a fun day that people can enjoy without having to spend anything. This is our third consecutive gala”

Chichester Gala last year (contributed pic)Chichester Gala last year (contributed pic)
Chichester Gala last year (contributed pic)

The family fun day begins at 11am. Performers on the stage include Chichester Community Choir, Sarah Moore Dance, Arabesque School, Sea Shantymen, Fit Joy – Zumba, T S Sturdy, RBA Dance School, Stagecoach Performing Arts and Mark Anstead Choir. The attractions include alpacas, reptiles, a magician, Punch & Judy, a bubbleologist, Circus have a go, a ventriloquist, a classic car display, vintage market, refreshment stalls, funfair and dozens of community groups and more. Chichester Model Engineers are coming out of retirement for a one-day special with their ride-on train, and there will be a grand raffle draw at 4.30pm along with the Cuckoo Trail competition which has already begun with participating shops. Forms can be found in the Gala brochure. At 5pm, live music will begin with Sarah Collins and Friends, followed by The Bluetones (acoustic), then the day’s headline performance by Sandi Thom. Day finishes at 9pm.

As Sam says, how difficult it is to empty the park at 9pm will be one of the measures of the day's success: “We will also be able to judge by the feedback, how many people came, how many people stayed. We've got something like 36 community groups having stalls and talking to those community groups will give us a good idea about the day as well. This is something that's got to work for everyone and hopefully it’ll be really busy all the time with great weather.”