Countdown to Steyning Festival begins

The queue outside Steyning Bookshop for The Sixteen tickets
The queue outside Steyning Bookshop for The Sixteen tickets

THE countdown to the Steyning Festival has begun.

Excitement is growing as news of programme highlights are released and the most popular events are likely to cause a stampede for tickets.

Performances by internationally-renowned choir The Sixteen are already sold out, having been put on sale early by Steyning Music Society. Long, winding queues formed outside Steyning Bookshop, in High Street, with people anxious to snap up the last tickets available.

Festival chairman Christine Aubrey said: “People shouldn’t worry, as there are lots of other entertaining things on offer, like our famous theatre trails.”

The festival runs from May 24 to June 8 and a further big rush for festival tickets is expected at the end of April. Organisers are advising people to become Friends of the Festival to qualify for priority booking.

Ms Aubrey said: “One of my favourites will be Neil Mullarkey and the Comedy Store Players, who brought the house down last time and on May 24 plan to have everyone rocking with laughter again. A couple of surprise other big name guest comics are promising to join Neil on the night, too.”

It promises to be a ‘vintage year’ for Steyning Festival, she added.

“Like a fine wine, the festival has got better and better over the years and again promises an action-packed programme of events to suit everyone’s taste,” she added.

“I want to thank all the volunteers who help make the festival what it is – a gem in the cultural and community life of Sussex.”

For the more serious-minded, Radio 4’s Any Questions? is coming to town for a live broadcast on Friday, May 30, and a foreign affairs lecture will take place on May 28.

Celebrities like James Naughtie, talking about his new book on the first Saturday of the festival, Gruffalo author Julia Donaldson (June 7) and the Archers’ Lillian Bellamy, with her one woman show (June 1), are also likely to prove a big draw to crowds.

Family fun and free events have not been forgotten. The children’s parade will kick off the festival with a colourful procession of giant carnival animals and a family community fun day and picnic is planned for the Bank Holiday Monday.

Anniversaries will also be a big factor, with the first world war centenary commemorated by the much-acclaimed chamber ensemble Troupe, who will perform A Line in the Sand on May 29.

A number of events will link to Steyning Grammar School’s 400-year celebrations, including an evocative theatrical performance, Carvings, Corridors and Timbres, on May 24. Costumes and entertainment from the period will provide an atmospheric finale to festival proceedings as a 1614 dance is staged at Wiston House on June 8.

The full Steyning Festival programme will published in April and copies will be delivered by volunteers to every house in Steyning, Bramber and Upper Beeding in mid-April.

Priority booking for Friends will begin at a special event on Thursday, April 17, and continue on April 18 and 19. Public booking starts on April 22, with tickets available from Steyning Bookshop or the festival website

To volunteer, or for more information, visit and follow the festival on Facebook and Twitter.

Several adults and tall teenagers are needed to help carry the large animals for the children’s parade. Contact Emma Cafferty by email at

For general enquiries, email: or contact Christine Aubrey on 01903 879986.

To become a Friend of the Festival, £10 per person, £15 family, contact Jenny Toomey, email or call 01903 814167.