Founded in 1995, Bishop’s Waltham Festival has been presenting exciting and creative performances in Bishop’s Waltham for 20 years. Managed and run entirely by volunteers from the community, past festivals have included music performances by household names such as The Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, George Melly, Show of Hands, The Albion Band, Kenny Ball, Humphrey Littleton and many many more. Outdoor classic productions have always proved a popular feature, with audiences of over 300 on occasions enjoying a picnic and excellent professional plays by the best national touring companies. Festivals have also featured plays for children, workshops, story telling, stand-up comedy, poetry, restaurant concerts, and vibrant Battle of the Bands events.
In addition to professional productions the Festival features drama, arts and music created within the village through schools work in arts and music, community choirs, drama nights and community art projects. Whenever possible much of the community work has come together on “A Festival Day” either in Bishop’s Waltham Palace or latterly in The High Street.
Throughout its life, the Festival has evolved to meet new circumstances. Plans for the next 3 – 5 years will see the Festival focussing on the village heritage interpreted through a wide range of creative projects. In 2015 we worked in partnership with The Town Team to commemorate the role of the village in the build up to Henry V’s Agincourt campaign. Festival events within this medieval extravaganza included a professional production of Shakespeare’s The Tempest and an outdoor film showing of Henry V, Both in the stunning setting of the Bishop’s Waltham Palace. Other 2015 projects included a drama collaboration with Now Heritage Theatre Company featuring exciting new writing, a community choir concert, Battle of the Bands, a community art project and a literature and short story project. In future years the festival intends to focus on different aspects of the village’s rich and exciting history and heritage. Work has already started on a collaborative project to illustrate aspects of village history through new technology and tapestry.