Freedom was the theme for this year’s Portsmouth Festivities and with ten days of events in beautiful sunshine, thousands of people had the freedom to engage in a variety of activities across the City. The highlights of the festival included RURA, The Tallis Scholars, Peter Tatchell and Simo Lagnawi.
The main commission, this year, was the creation of The World’s Smallest Escape Room that went on display in Gunwharf Quays for the ten days. The record breaking room was inspired by local schools who created the idea of “The Haunted Library” and devised some of the puzzles inside the room. Over 500 people played the room which measured 1.5m square; clocking up an average time of 11 minutes 30 seconds. The winning team managed to solve the room in just 5 mins 43 seconds.
The Opening Gala Concert drew in a huge crowd to see an electric performance from percussionists, O Duo, as they performed at Portsmouth Cathedral, stunning the audience with their innovative percussive interpretations. Students from The Portsmouth Grammar School joined the artists for various pieces and gave a superb performance.
A smoke breathing dragon appeared at Southsea Castle and thrilled children and adults of all ages as Circo Rum Ba Ba brought Dragon Quest to the Castle. Croshare brought together the community at Aspex Gallery with ‘Ball and Ch*’, celebrating women’s freedom and special events for Father’s Day encouraged families to explore culture within the City.
There were plenty of talks on offer during the 10 days with Peter Tatchell, only days from his detainment in Russia, giving a heated discussion on Free Speech. Picking up this theme, The Young People’s Debate discussed issues concerning refugees during Refugee Week. Philip Hoare gave an inspirational talk on our relationship with the sea, while Dr Diane Atkinson reflected on Women’s Suffrage and Abigail Coppins gave an intimate tour of Portchester Castle explaining the life of Black Prisoners of War.
Celebrating the 100th anniversary of the birth of Nelson Mandela, No. 6 Cinema and the African Women’s Forum showed the film Mandela; The Long Walk to Freedom. While the Portsmouth Cathedral hosted the magnificent Tallis Scholars, St George’s Chapel saw the Scottish Folk band, RURA, thrill an excited audience with their Celtic blend of music. A testament to the fact that acoustic music is still as popular as ever with two venues selling out on the same night.
The weather remained beautiful for all of the outdoor events and the music reflected the heat. Simo Lagnawi gave ‘a standing-room only’ performance of sounds from Morocco, and Carlos Bonell, closed the Festivities period with the soothing Spanish Guitar in the Square Tower.
“We always aim to offer an inspiring programme of events during Portsmouth Festivities,” commented Chairman Mr James Priory. “The audience feedback was very positive and, just as importantly, the artists and performers also had a great time. We now look forward to celebrating the Festivities’ 20th birthday in 2019!”
Portsmouth Festivities are extremely grateful to all who came to support our festival this year, and to our creative partner and community platform events that help to make up our huge variety of events and activities across our 10 day festival. We look forward to seeing everyone again next year.
The dates for next year’s Portsmouth Festivities are 14-23 June 2019.
Image Credits: Ross Young Photographers