Ray Dawe: What are you doing this summer?

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One of our priorities for Horsham District is to build and help support an arts, leisure and cultural reputation. With visitors to our District’s leisure centres now topping one million and a full and varied programme of events throughout summer, we are clearly having some success.

Horsham’s Museum and Art Gallery in the Causeway has been recognised as the 13th most visited free attraction in the South East of England and has a variety of exhibitions for all tastes and age groups. In 2013/14 it received 77,505 visitors - a record high.

We have an increasing number of special District events and they are ever growing in popularity. Our annual ‘Piazza Italia’ event (now in its eighth year)continues to attract tens of thousands of visitors to Horsham town each year.

The Shipley Arts and Music Festival has moved beyond its original home and is becoming a wider district event.

It continues throughout July and attracts international performers (see www.bmglive.com/shipley-arts-festival for details).

In our District villages we have events ranging from garden visits to full village days and festivals. Horsham will be hosting ‘Sparks in the Park’ - a summer spectacular in Horsham Park this Sunday 13 July, guaranteeing plenty of sporting fun, live music, dance, displays, stalls a funfair and tasty refreshments.

There is free entry and free parking across the town centre.

There will also be free children’s entertainment including clowns, games and magic from 2pm at Horsham Park Podium every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday during the school summer holidays.

A wide range of sporting and arts activities will be provided across the District during this summer where children can try a variety of different sports and apply their creative talents to different crafts and arts.

A list of these can be found at Horshamleisurelink.co.uk. For those with a keen interest in nature or who are aspiring Bear Grylls adventurers, a programme of events for all the family will be held throughout the summer until the end of September at our countryside sites, including Southwater Country Park, Warnham Nature Reserve, Leechpool and Owlbeech Woods and Chesworth Farm (see http://www.horsham.gov.uk/leisure/15774.aspx).

If you love food and drink and are particularly passionate about local produce then the district council’s Big Nibble event coming up on the 6 and 7 September is a must.

This two-day event launches our 12th annual, month-long Horsham District Food and Drink Festival running from 6 September to 5 October.

There will also be a varied programme of films and live shows over the summer at the Capitol Theatre, including live screenings of National Theatre productions (see www.thecapitolhorsham.com).

Two highlights this year will be the Horsham Festival of Cricket from 21-24 and 27 July (www.horshamsportsclub.com) and the Tour of Britain coming through the district in September.

On Saturday 13 September, the 7th stage of the ‘Tour of Britain’ will see the world’s top riders racing through some of our villages and towns.

This is just a small sample of the diverse range of activities taking place and there are doubtless many more.

Looking to the future, the district council is undertaking a major review of its website and as part of this we will be improving the existing events area of the site pulling all the arts, leisure and cultural experiences together in one place for easy access – just go to the ‘Events in the district’ section on the home page of www.horsham.gov.uk

Have a great summer!