Canterbury Festival 2013

Lesley Garrett

2013 marks the 30th anniversary of the Canterbury Festival in its current form (the original Festival started in the 1920s) and will see over 200 events take place across two weeks in a wide variety of genres including world music, theatre, dance, literature, comedy and visual arts. This year’s programme is packed full of exciting events for all tastes, including the Tallis Scholars in Canterbury Cathedral, The Faulty Towers Dining Experience at the Abode Hotel and folk legends Oysterband at the Marlowe Theatre.

For the first time, the Festival is using the new Colyer-Fergusson Hall at the University of Kent for three events, including a unique concert with pianist Mikhail Rudy based around the works of Kandinsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition and Stravinsky’s Petrushka and Nova Music Opera presenting a UK premiere of a new opera by Sally Beamish, Hagar in the Wilderness in a brilliant double bill with Britten’s Curlew River.

The Festival is also returning to the King’s School again this year, with the UKs favourite soprano, Lesley Garrett, who will be joined by clarinettist Emma Johnson for a superb programme of traditional and contemporary songs at the Shirley Hall. Other classical highlights include the culmination of cellist Matthew Barley’s ‘Around Britten’ tour in the Cathedral Transept. Following the Britten theme, Mid Wales Opera are performing Albert Herring at the Theatre Royal Margate and the Canterbury Choral Society is performing his War Requiem in the Cathedral Nave.

This year will also see the Festival bring a Spiegeltent to Canterbury for the two weeks. A Spiegeltent is a highly decorative, 1920s travelling dance hall and it will host a packed programme of theatre, music and cabaret. One of the highlights will be four nights with Australian circus company Casus who will be presenting their new show Knee Deep, a breathtaking display of incredible skill and performed with raw emotion.

The Spiegeltent will also host a variety of music events as it becomes the new home for the Festival Club. From young folk and country talent like ahab and Feral Mouth to established musicians like Sammy Rimington and Lúnasa, there really will be something for every taste.  

Finally, this year also sees an increased number of family-friendly shows throughout the second week of the Festival, taking place daily at 2pm. Kicking off the family programme is children’s script writer Andrew Barnett Jones with The Story Game, where he will use techniques and ideas from the audience to create entirely new stories. There will also be Baby Loves Disco, a party for the under 7s (and their parents!) and two shows with Squashbox Theatre combining puppetry, cabaret, music and natural history!

The Tent will be sited at The Spitfire Ground, St Lawrence and will play host to up to four events a day, including morning concerts and afternoon family shows. There is ample parking available and there will be a variety of food and drink options available to visitors, so don’t miss your chance to experience the Spiegeltent in Canterbury!  
The full programme is available to view at

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