Impromptu ABBA and glorious sunshine as Festival of Chichester launches

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
Five weeks of fun began with the launch of the Festival of Chichester 2024 on the Cathedral green on Saturday morning.

The sun burst through threatening skies for a glorious hour of entertainment to mark the start of more than 100 events in, around and across the city.

The festival runs from Saturday, June 15 to Sunday, July 21. Tickets online:; email: [email protected]; box office: 01243 816525.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Saturday’s launch saw Chichester Festival Youth Theatre in action and also a couple of sets from Chichester’s very own vintage entertainer Dawn Gracie who encouraged an impromptu ABBA revival featuring Chichester District Council chairman Clare Apel, Chichester City Councillor Rhys Chant and Chichester deputy mayor Councillor Stuart Loxton (see video). Earlier deputy mayor Stuart and Chichester-based best-selling novelist Kate Mosse declared the festival open.

Chichester Festival Youth Theatre help launch the Festival (pic by Phil Hewitt)Chichester Festival Youth Theatre help launch the Festival (pic by Phil Hewitt)
Chichester Festival Youth Theatre help launch the Festival (pic by Phil Hewitt)

Among the musical highlights this year, The Chichester Singers summer concert will be in Chichester Cathedral; Pzazz Singers take to the stage in the Assembly Room, North Street; Ensemble Reza will be celebrating women in music; and Underground Blues offers Will Johns live. The Mera Horn Trio offer a programme of Brahms & Smyth in Christ Church; Plastikes Karekles will delight with a Greek serenade in St Paul’s Church; and Chichester Pride will offer a Summer Late at Pallant House Gallery. At this year's Poetry & Jazz Café poets Maura Dooley and Jeremy Page link with Mike Carey’s Big House and there will be a festival Last Night Of The Proms concert in St Paul’s Church from The Southdowns Concert Band. The Hampshire Recorder Sinfonia will be returning; and Flowers and Flirtations in Christ Church will feature Tamzin Barnett (soprano) and Birgit Rohowsky Miller (piano)

Your Ideas For Our City in the Assembly Room will offer a special forum as Chichester looks to the future.

Meanwhile, Festival of Chichester president Kate Mosse will launch The Ghost Ship paperback at Waterstones in West Street. Her husband Greg Mosse will lead a day at West Dean College entitled How To Write A Mystery Novel. West Dean head gardener Tom Brown will be in conversation with festival chairman Phil Hewitt; and actor and playwright Steven Berkoff reads from Lord Byron’s classic poem Don Juan.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Best-selling Chichester author Isabel Ashdown returns to her home town to launch her latest suspense novel Weathering; and Chichester Cabaret Club will be in session in Oaklands Pavilion, Oaklands Park. New Theatre Productions will return to West Dean Gardens with Tom Jones and with Mixed Doubles, an entertainment on Marriage by Alan Ayckbourn, George Melly, James Saunders, Harold Pinter, Alun Owen, Fay Weldon, David Campton, Lyndon Brook and John Bowen.

Festival of Chichester chairman Phil Hewitt said he was thrilled with the programme for this year: “There is a terrific amount of work that goes into putting the Festival of Chichester together, but every year one of the great rewards is when we can finally say to everyone ‘This is what we have got coming this year and it’s all about to start!’ And goodness, what a relief after staring at gloomy weather forecasts all week. The sun shone this morning. It was fabulous! Why did we worry!”

•The Festival of Chichester is generously supported by Chichester City and Chichester District Councils. Kenton Budd Estate Agents is the Festival’s principal sponsor this year. Tickets from the Festival box office.

Related topics:

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.