New audiences will be key to success at this year’s Chichester Festivities

The final pieces are now in place for a packed Chichester Festivities programme intent on reaching out to new audiences.

After a tough few years, the Festivities are determined to broaden their appeal - while still offering plenty to please their traditional audiences (June 24-July 10).

Among the events confirmed this week are a gig from Chichester duo The Smoke Fairies; an evening with comedian Simon Munnery; a talk by BBC presenter and economics expert Evan Davis; a return to Chichester by veteran broadcaster John Simpson; and a talk by Mark Logue, whose speech therapist grandfather Lionel so famously coached The King’s Speech.

Also added to the programme is Fiona Phillips who will discuss her painful journey, following her resignation from GMTV, to nurse her father and her mother diagnosed with Alzheimer’s a year apart. This year’s speakers will also include the actor Peter Bowles who will discuss his autobiography.

Festivities director Amanda Sharp said: “There is a lot of stuff that should appeal to a younger audience. We are certainly looking for different audiences. We are trying to expand the appeal.”

Key to the new focus will be ChiFest which will run during the first half of the Festivities, offering performances and dance on the Cathedral Green in partnership with Chichester College.

“Hopefully it will feel a slightly different festival. Hopefully it will feel exciting. We are keeping the traditional popular events, the candlelit concerts, the orchestral concerts and the chamber music, but at the same time there is going to be a different focus. There is going to be a great variety - something for absolutely everyone.

“We have diversified more than usual, but we have cut back in certain areas. There will be two fewer concerts in the Cathedral than usual.”

Partly the reasoning is that in the past the Festivities had competed with itself with clashing events on the same nights. Overall, the Festivities will be slightly smaller this year, Amanda confirmed.

As always, the opening fireworks concert (Friday, June 24 from 6.30pm) at Goodwood Racecourse will be crucial to the overall success of the Festival. On the back of two excellent years for attendance, the concert will feature The Magic Of Soul And Motown plus Abba Magic.

Other newly-announced events include: John Standing, Matthew Parris, Waxing Lyrical, Uri & Me, Prue Leith, Hugo Vickers, Radio Daze, and The Minerva Ensemble.

Already announced are events including: Melvyn Bragg, Elaine Paige, Central Band of the RAF, Blake, Zic Zazou, Kate Rusby, Warsaw Village Band, Jacqui Dankworth, Classic Buskers, Gigspanner, Crooked Fiddle Band, Humphrey Lyttelton Band and Andy Hamilton, Two Halves of Guinness and The Living World: A Photographer’s Journey (Steve Bloom).

Tickets on 01243 528356; more details on www.chifest.org.uk.