In the inaugural Swindon Spring Festival – built on the legacy of twenty-five years of the Swindon Festival of Literature – there are sixty events across fourteen action-packed days of literature, writing, speaking, ideas, dance, drama, music, film, art and circus skills.
The action-packed first day includes a 5k run followed by a talk by an author on all things running – this year it’s Bella Mackie, author of Jog On. But it’s not just humans and animals at the run – this year they are joined by the Tractor Carnival.
Think Slam, where philosophers do battle to out-think each other, also makes a welcome return.
More braincell-engagement comes in the form of the Spring Festival Quiz, hosted by TV Egghead and six times world quizzing champion Kevin Ashman.
Also new for this year is Festival in the Park, a free day of family fun at Lydiard Park replacing the popular Family Day having outgrown its Lower Shaw Farm home. Families will be treated to circus skills, a poetry jukebox, puppetry, and live music.
BBC Wiltshire listeners will be invited to contribute lines and phrases to A Festival Poem for Swindon, which will be curated by performance poet and festival regular Sara-Jane Arbury and the young voices of Swindon’s Prime Theatre.
Swindon’s most celebrated author gets an event in his honour – 132 years after his death. The first annual Richard Jefferies Lecture will be presented by broadcaster and Victorian literature expert Will Abberley.
Appearances from living authors include former education minister and home secretary Lord Kenneth Baker on the Seven Deadly Sins,Mike Berners-Lee (There is no Planet B) on climate change, Heather Widdows(Perfect Me) on perfection and beauty, and mathematician Marcus Du Sautoy, on whether computers will ever replace artists.
Swindon Arts Centre will host a number of film screenings, among which is Life is Wonderful, a documentary focussing on the legal team who defended Nelson Mandeladuring the Rivonia Trial – a team led by Joel Joffe, a longtime supporter of Swindon Festival of Literature and resident of Liddington, who died in 2017.
In dance, Swindon Dancewill mark its 40th anniversary with The Rising, where dancers and musicians will explore what makes people feel alive.
In theatre, Everybody – a play written and performed by young Swindon actors from Rapport – will explore what it means to be a teenager today, and Emily Cardingasks you if you have answers for Hamlet‘s great questions of life.
There’s too much to fit into one email – watch out for more magnificent missives on the programme and explore swindonspringfestival.co.uk.