Wise Words offers you the chance to rediscover the city…
Canterbury may be a small city but there is no question that it boasts a sense of history and culture far greater than its physical size. People travel from all over the country and across the world to marvel at the inescapable beauty of the cobbled streets and historic buildings; to sample the fine foods and get a taste of the still thriving art, music and literary scene that is such a prominent part of its heritage. Despite the obvious draw of the city, it is only natural that after time we start to take for granted the gifts that surround us.
This year’s theme for the Wise Words Festival is love and an important part of that is reigniting the love we hold for this city, encouraging the people that live here to take a moment to stop, breathe and take a moment out of their busy lives to appreciate this quirky place we call home. Wise Words takes place between the 28th April and 8th May with most activity taking place in the Secret Garden just off Stour Street and additional activity spilling out across the city.
Canterbury Culture wanted to take a moment to highlight a few events with the festival’s rich programme, that offer this opportunity to rediscover the city. There will be music and storytelling taking place in punts on the river, guided musical walks and the internationally acclaimed Midnight Run are a few events that should not be missed.
Storytelling and music in Punts on the River
The punts are a staple part of Canterbury’s aesthetic. They offer a unique perspective of Canterbury and what better way to explore, than by drifting down the river, guided along by the steady hands of one of our river boat workers. Yet often it is visitors to the city and not locals who take advantage of this amazing asset. Wise Words wants to encourage people to re-discover the magic of the punts by offering unique experiences – intimate acoustic gigs and storytelling whilst drifting along the water, through the historic heart of the city and out into the beautiful meadows.
On Saturday 29th April and Sunday 30th you can enjoy talented singer songwriters, all of whom have a unique style but share soulful passion in their music, performing forty-five-minute sets to audiences of about 8 people onboard a punt. As you pass between the ancient banks of the River Stour, the rich music played just for you will become part of the cities diverse soundscape. The Saturday also offers storytelling for all ages. The addition of music to the punts has come about through a partnership between Wise Words and the City Sound Project.
The second weekend of the festival, Saturday 6th and Sunday 7th May, brings with it the opportunity to the chance to immerse yourself in stories told by Emily Hennessy. Her folktales, myths and legends weave a tapestry of wonderment appropriate for a city filled with such an abounding and mystical heritage. Whichever remarkable opportunity you choose to take advantage of (tickets are a reasonable five pounds) you will be sure to see life from a new angle from your cosy spot aboard a river boat.
Firewatching – a musical walk through the city
The river is not the only vantage point from which to spy on the forgotten nooks and hidden corners of this time loved city. The winding streets themselves offer a pathway through the ages. Richard Navarro has written a series of songs inspired by places, the culture and history of the city, that can be enjoyed during his hour long show on the Monday bank holiday in the Festival’s stunning Yurt. Earlier that day, accompanied by fellow musicians Nicholas Thurston and Miriam Gould, Richard is inviting people to join him on musical walks through the city, performing these bespoke songs at the locations that inspired their creation. This offers a truly unique insight into the Canterbury’s history. Even if you have walked these streets a thousand times you will encounter a new experience and may even come away with a new favourite spot complete with a song to go with it. Wise Words have co-produced these events in partnership with City Sound Project
The Midnight Run – a walk through the city at night
The Midnight Run embodies the philosophy ‘not all those who wander are lost’. Founded by renowned poet and playwright Inua Ellams, it seeks to encourage a cities’ inhabitants to see the place they live in a new light (or lack of it). This year Wise Words has brought the Midnight Run to the city in collaboration with the Marlowe Theatre.
As the name suggests it occurs at night running between the hours of 7pm – 1am. Over the course of this time participants or ‘runners’, delve into forgotten or unknown areas of the city and at each spot will engage in an artist led intervention designed to help them not only connect with each other but also to reconnect with the city. It gives people the chance to safely explore the streets and beyond under the cover of dark, a chance in this modern age which is too rare to pass up.
The Midnight Run has brought wonder and connectivity to those not afraid to take a risk and to try something new in major cities across Great Britain and Europe; galvanising playfulness and artistic engagement with each other and the world around us.
These are just a few of the events taking place during the ten days of the Wise Words Festival. Other highlights include An Evening with Roger McGough & LiTTLe MACHiNe; comedy with Sophie Willan; lots of incredible children’s shows; Shane Koyczan has made it his first stop on his UK tour and Lemn Sissay will be appearing throughout the festival. You can see the whole programme at www.wisewordsestival.co.uk
Written by Henry Maddicott