Love Ludlow? Love our festivals

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Written byLucy Cook

Ludlow festivals embodies local values and showcases the best of local tradition, highlights our agricultural abundance and cultural riches and thankfully, our annual calendar is filled with them. Festivals burnishes our image as a tourist destination, and are attractions for visitors. This year many are returning to physical events having either gone digital or having to cancel last year, and it’s a good time to take stock of what the ‘new normal’ means for our festivals and events.

The most immediate of our festivals is the Ludlow Fringe Festival which delivers a month-long programme of around 100 arts and cultural events taking place from 19 June – 18 July suitable for a diverse age range. Thanks to a grant from the Arts Council, the event is helping performers to do what they do best in putting on a show in front of live audiences. This year, the Fringe also welcomes two patrons, well-known actor and comedian, Alistair McGowan and John Challis both of whom are supporting the festival and see it as an important conduit to helping a sector that suffered badly during lockdown as well as economically important to the town, local businesses and those in hospitality.

Anita Bigsby, director of the Ludlow Fringe Festival, is excited for her event this year and said: “The Ludlow Fringe Festival is an annual pilgrimage for both visitors and performers alike and after a year with limited opportunities to perform in front of live audiences, many are simply looking forward to bringing their art to the world be it live or digital.”

Much of it will take place in and around the town including comedy and music scheduled at Ludlow Brewery, The Blue Boar and the Feathers. This year festival organisers are also utilising the magnificent grounds and atmosphere at Stokesay Court for its Shakespeare plays and for the Film Orchestra. Tickets are on sale now and although many events are free, you may need to book to reserve a spot as required by Test and Trace guidelines.

LGL speaks to the organisers of other cultural events to find out how they are responding to the new normal of living with the pandemic.

Ludlow’s Green Festival, 11 July 2021

Kim Holroyd, member of the team of festival planning volunteers

Describe your event…

Ludlow Green Festival, the county’s largest event that brings environmental issues to the forefront through interactive and entertaining ways, is back on Sunday July 11th in Castle Square. This will be the 24th festival, after skipping last year due to Covid. The organisers, the local environmental community group Ludlow 21, promise another fun packed festival with engaging stalls, talks, a green tour, music, sustainable food and drink on the day.  This year’s theme for the festival will be ‘Build back – Greener’ which will touch upon the need for people, communities, businesses, councils and governments all to alter their approach to reducing carbon emissions, building resilience and instigating change to mitigate climate emergency.

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Is it going live?

We are planning for a ‘live’ event but keeping abreast of changes that might affect the festival. Our decisions are being made to be compliant with national and town guidelines. We are fortunate that the town council encourages a vibrant festival culture in Ludlow balanced with having strong measures in place to ensure the safety of all. Being able to consult with the Town gives us confidence in our planning

How are you feeling about reopening?

The planning committee is quite excited to be back planning another festival- cautiously excited. We also want to ensure everything is in place to maximize the safety of all. The excitement seems to be shared by those on the planning committee, returning stall holders, and regular attendees.

What kind of factors will impact the festival this year and how are you managing it?

The Green Festival has always been a hive of activity, sustainable food, ethical goods, demonstrations, talks, and music using the 43 market stalls and two Squares. This year, the activities on the Squares will be spaced further apart so there will be slightly fewer activities. Even so, we’ll still have a rich programme, the market and the music stage.

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What should potential attendees expect from your event this year?

I think the festival is about possibilities. Each of us is in a different place in our evolutionary journey towards sustainable living and must make our own choices about how to move forward. The Green Festival offers information and inspiration so we can choose our own ‘next steps’. The event also gives us glimpses into a future where our lives can be richer and fuller living in close community and in balance with the natural world.

Ludlow Food Festival, 10, 11, 12 September, 2021

Hannah James – Events Manager

Describe your event…   

Ludlow Food Festival is a celebration of the fantastic independent food and drink producers from the Marches region.

 Is it going live?

Yes, we will be live! We are taking advice early and will be keeping a watchful eye on developments, but we are optimistic the Festival will be taking place this year — tickets are selling fast which is a really positive sign.

How are you feeling about reopening? 

We are so looking forward to getting our Festival Family back together and welcoming everyone along to three jam-packed days of food and drink fun, all in the spectacular surroundings of Ludlow Castle.


What kind of factors will impact of the festival this year and how are you managing it? 

The safety and security of our visitors, exhibitors and volunteers is always our number one priority — and this year is no exception. We will take advice from our Health & Safety team as always, but at the moment particularly in terms of covid, this is changing all the time, so we are keeping a watchful eye on developments and whatever happens will do our best to ensure everyone has a great time, safely.

What would you like potential attendees to expect with your festival/event this year?

We will be offering our usual high quality event — a real celebration of the fantastic food and drink producers of the Marches region. A chance for everyone to get together and enjoy some delicious food and raise a glass to brighter times ahead.

Ludlow English Song Weekend, 29 & 30 October

Steve Catanach, Festival Manager

Describe your event…

The Ludlow English Song Weekend 2021 has been postponed from April to 29/30 October 2021. As ever, we will celebrate the best of English Song and prose and this year we have an amazing lineup who can’t wait to pack their bags and head for Ludlow and live music performance.

Is it going live?

We want to keep it live, no Zooming or streaming, so we’ve pushed it back by six months to allow the situation to continue to improve and hopefully allow even more people to come along.

How are you feeling about reopening?

We continue to plan for restricted numbers and a socially distanced layout in the medieval airy splendour of St Laurence’s and will keep all our events there to avoid unnecessary movement of people. In addition to our own Iain Burnside, acting as both Artistic Director and principal accompanist, we have internationally acclaimed baritone Roderick Williams kicking us off in style, with the wonderful mezzo Kathryn Rudge, pride of Liverpool and first-time Ludlow visitor, rounding us off. Natalya Romaniw was recently crowned RPS Singer of the Year and is the UK’s hottest vocal property. Any prizes left over by Natalya have been hoovered up by Benson Wilson, New Zealand-born Samoan baritone. As ever, new compositions and pieces will feature and, even allowing for a compressed program this year, we’re still squeezing in a discussion panel looking at the effect of the pandemic on live music and festivals such as ours.

What kind of factors will impact the festival this year and how are you managing it?

We look forward to returning some events to the refurbished Ludlow Assembly Rooms in the future. We have also removed in-house catering from our programme, allowing attendees instead to sample the best of Ludlow’s restaurants, eateries and hostelries — it’s important that we all support each other and spread the goodwill of our return to a new normality.

What should potential attendees expect from your event this year?

Tickets will go on sale around July once we know for sure what any remaining restrictions are likely to be and the venue can confirm the final layout and numbers. With the support of Arts Council England (and various other organisations) and without the burden of being a venue ourselves, we are able to look forward and plan this delayed 2021 festival and start work on the 2022 festival with confidence. Look for full 2021 programme details and purchase tickets from the LESW website.

Ludlow Medieval Fayre, 27 & 28 November 2021

Abigail Dakin, Events Director

Describe your event…

On the 27 & 28 November, Ludlow Medieval Christmas Fayre will be kicking off the festive season in Ludlow in true medieval style as the stunning setting of Ludlow Castle is transformed into an immersive medieval spectacle brimming with fighting knights, fire jugglers, wassailers and shows to delight all ages. Explore the stalls and workshops to find (or make!) the perfect gift or indulge in a unique treat. As you explore, follow your nose to find delicious festive fare, from hot chestnuts and welsh oggies to mulled wine and spiced hot chocolates. Grab your friends and a warming drink, and step back in time with us for a unique weekend of festive medieval revelry.


Is it going live?

While we loved being able to bring a virtual celebration to the comfort of people’s homes for the online Fayre in 2020, we can’t wait to welcome visitors back to the castle in person! Government guidance will help shape some of the details of the event in terms of visitor flow and layout, but we’re working hard to make sure that everyone’s favourites are in the mix and that we have all the ingredients of the Medieval Christmas Fayre that people love.

How are you feeling about reopening?

We love that the Fayre is such a highlight of people’s year, it is for us as well! We missed having everyone with us in person in 2020, from the visitors to the crew and stewards who help bring the Fayre to life. We’re extremely excited to celebrate with everyone again, and to share some of the magic that makes the event so special to us. We always know we can start feeling festive once the Medieval Christmas Fayre has arrived, and it’s being able to share that with the people you love that brings it to life.

What kind of factors will impact of the festival this year and how are you managing it?

While we wait for more guidance from government, the details of the format of the Fayre are still being worked on. We’re hopeful that, come November and with the success of the vaccine roll-out, the Fayre will be close to its usual format, but we’re working hard to make sure there are measures in place to keep people safe, comfortable, and able to immerse themselves in the event. One way or another, we’re going to make sure everyone gets the chance to enjoy their Medieval Christmas Fayre favourites!


What would you like potential attendees to expect with your festival/event this year?

While the situation is still in flux, the details of what to expect on-site are still to be confirmed, but we’ll be sharing everything that people can expect well in advance of the event, and we’d encourage people to sign up for our newsletter through our website so they have all the latest information as soon as we’re able to share it. It seems not unlikely at this stage that people will need to book their tickets in advance, which over 50% of our audience already do, to guarantee entry and to make getting into the Fayre as easy as possible, and as usual people will be able to do this through our website. As soon as tickets are available, we’ll announce this through our social media and newsletter, so keep your eyes peeled!

Other festivals and key events

Ludlow Fringe Festival – 19 June – 18 July 2021

Ludlow 10k – 10 July 2021

Ludlow Magnalonga – 08 August 2021 (tickets on sale end of June and sell out FAST)

This story was recently updated


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