Lincoln Drill Hall

Thursday, 24 September 2015

This summer of Lincoln Festivals: how has it been for you?

April seems a distant memory with that first chance to see the new home of Magna Carta and the breathtaking castle wall walk which has since attracted record numbers of visitors. Then June and the Magna Carta weekend; July and Jools Holland in the Castle; Jesus Christ Superstar in the Cathedral. But then other festivals: the Chamber Music Festival visiting different parts of the county with world class music; the Film society programme with its Magna Carta flavour. What a summer!

By the end of August I truly thought I was ‘festivaled out’, certainly ‘Magna Carta’d out’; but then came David Starkey at the Drill Hall as part of Festival 800. The controversial Question Time panelist put on his history hat and drew a vibrant picture of the politics of Magna Carta with modern day references and resonance. Billy Bragg and the Levellers provided music and Hillel Steiner much food for thought on human rights and migration.

An old friend who runs one of the famous Lincoln restaurants told me that her daughter, returning this summer from a time away, had noticed a much stronger cultural vibe in the city. Another friend said how he used always to go to Edinburgh for their festival and this year hadn’t, but hadn’t needed to since there were so many quality events in Lincoln on his doorstep.

Yet there is more to come.

I admit it. I love history, so much so that I am now spending my time writing it. The Lincoln Book Festival at the end of September has, as it says in its blurb, ‘History at its heart’. It is after all held in a city where over two thousand years of history seep from every stone. This year’s festival has very nearly the same time span, running as it does from an exploration of Islam, through a snapshot of the women of Lincolnshire in the 13th century, through ages of revolution, to previously unpublished material surrounding the abdication crisis and up to the 21st century’s wrestles with press freedom.

We then have, in true Monty Python fashion, something completely different: Frequency. You know the one that ‘other people seem to like, not really my thing’.

A few weeks ago I had a conversation with one of the organisers and this helped me understand it better. It’s not loud, atonal music; it is far more subtle. It is all about the digital age we now live in, and we do, all of us even if we don’t do ‘Facebook’. News broadcasts carry images taken by ordinary people on their phones; everything is more immediate; we can all have our say. The Frequency Festival explores what this means in our lives and uses digital technology to complement the more traditional art forms.

This year’s Festival has as its theme: Liberation. I asked what were the events for those of us new to it all. She listed them: ‘Cosmic Birds’ a quiet, meditative, kinetic piece playing with light at Chad Varah House; ‘Enlightenment’  at Waterside Shopping Centre; 'The One The Few The Many’ - an installation piece is going into Cobb Hall at Lincoln Castle, representing Lincoln’s history and its future; and Through the Fourth Wall’ - a magical, theatrical, projection piece in the Roman Postern Gate site. I would add at the Drill Hall, Compagnia TPO: Bleu, a combination of ‘sumptuous visual imagery, movement, dance and music’.

When it is all over please let me know what you thought of it all.    

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