New Mills Festival serves up a double dose of fun

THERE’S twice the fun to be had at this year’s bumper New Mills Community Festival.

The annual autumn celebration, which runs from Thursday September 8 until Sunday September 25, has doubled in size over recent years.

This 2011 festival theme is ‘nature’, and organisers hope the wonderful natural environment which surrounds New Mills will inspire people to create their special lanterns for the annual lantern procession, which takes place on Saturday September 24.

As always, there will be a wide range of new events and old favourites, hosted by local community groups, including music, magic, poetry, exhibitions, arts events, open days, talks, walks, sports and lantern-making workshops.

A fabulous concert ‘The King and Us’ gets the first week of the festival underway on Friday September 9 at the Art Theatre, with James Ruffell and the Pontiacs (with a tribute to Elvis), Kathy’s Band and White Van Man, plus special guests Michael Gilbourne (10CC) and Pete Salisbury (The Verve) who will perform with John Patterson.

On Saturday September 10, New Mills Allotment Society is hosting an open afternoon at their Ollersett Avenue site, when visitors can go along and be inspired and pick up some handy tips. Entrance is free.

Also on September 10, and continuing on the following two Saturdays, people will have a chance to view an inspiring installation entitled ‘Waste’ by artist Lyn Bannister, in St George’s Church. Created in response to Jason Singh’s other-worldly music, this will be a ceiling of thousands of white feathers representing the essence of the individuals who have passed through the church, suspended high above the main aisle. This event is free.

On the Saturday evening, Low Leighton Methodist Church host a performance by Burbage Brass Band - the current Midland Brass Band Champions - shortly before they go to compete in the National Brass Band Finals.

Sunday September 11 has three outdoor events – a Fun Run from New Mills Leisure Centre starting at 10.30am with prizes and medals, and a sponsored abseil organised by New Mills Volunteer Centre at Millers Dale to raise funds for the centre.

In the afternoon, join New Mills and Swedish Mushroom advisor Bengt Saxmark on a local Fungi Foray. Early booking is advised.

In the evening , the Friends of St James’ will be holding ‘Making Music’, a concert with the excellent musicians and media celebrities Colin and Janette Sykes, in St George’s Hall.

On Monday September 12, Indian Head Massage treatments will be on offer for half price at New Mills Alternative Health Clinic (appointments must be booked in advance), and in the evening New Mills Wives Group is hosting a festival talk about ‘Wildlife in the Peak District’ by Derek Alsop, in the Library Lecture Room at New Mills Town Hall.

New Mills Library Bookchat group warmly invites people to join them on Tuesday September 13 to meet the Derbyshire Poet Laureate Ann Atkinson. This event is free.

Wednesday September 14 sees a second opportunity to join a dusk walk led by the Derbyshire Countryside Rangers and look for bats, moths and wildlife in the Torrs Gorge and Mouseley Bottom Nature Reserve.

The following day, Thursday September 15 sees the first of the very popular themed evenings at Ali’s Café with Syrian and Lebanese food and music. Booking is essential.

For art lovers, September 15 is also the launch of a new exciting contemporary exhibition ‘Big Bang’ at the Art Lounge, upstairs at the Beehive from 7pm onwards. Entrance is free.

Week one culminates on Friday September 16 with a fascinating presentation by Nick Moyes entitled ‘Of Peregrines and People’, for the New Mills Natural History Society at New Mills Town Hall Library Lecture Room.

Those who prefer live music can enjoy ‘Live @ New Mills’ – an evening of live music from excellent bands performing in most of the pubs in New Mills. The evening begins at 7.15pm when Thornsett Brass Band will be playing at Central Station to welcome a Folk Train Special with Darren Poyzer that departs Manchester at 6.45pm.

The second week of New Mills Community Festival begins on Saturday September 17 with a free daytime event for children and adults organised by High Peak Community Arts in High Lea Park - ‘Tales in a Tent’ - featuring environmental stories with storyteller Gordon MacLellan as Creeping Toad.

Choose from three very different musical events in the evening: a concert with popular Swedish musicians Rita Saxmark and Sabina Agnas at Providence Church, a music night at the Revival Church with talented local artists, and ‘The Soul’s Reward’ at St George’s Church - a performance by vocal sculptor and human beatboxer Jason Singh of his own beautiful and ethereal music.

A festival sports day - featuring cricket, tennis and bowls - will take place at New Mills Sports Club Ground, Church Road, from 11am on Sunday September 18, followed in the evening by a special concert at New Mills Art Theatre by Whaley Bridge Brass Band, in aid of Blythe House Hospice.

On Monday September 19, there will be another opportunity to visit New Mills Alternative Health Clinic, this time to enjoy a half-price reflexology treatment. Again, appointments must be booked in advance.

In the evening there will be another very popular festival talk by Derek Brumhead entitled ‘Lost Railways of New Mills’ – an event hosted by the New Mills Local History Society. New Mills Town Council is generously providing and serving cheese and wine and there will be an opportunity to buy local history society publications. This event is free, with donations invited to the Festival.

New Mills and District U3A will host a talk on Tuesday September 20, at 10.30am, by David Frith entitled ‘The River Goyt from Source to Mersey’, at New Mills Town Hall. Entrance is free and refreshments will be available. In the evening is a festival quiz night at the Royal Oak with prizes and a raffle.

New Mills Volunteer Centre will be holding another of its popular Whist Drives at the centre on Wednesday September 21, and on Thursday September 22 is the second of the popular themed evenings at Ali’s Café, with British food and music. Booking is essential.

Also on September 22, hear ‘The Miller’s Tale – 125 years of New Mills Football Club’ – a talk by Allan Jones about the fascinating history of the club. This will be held in the clubhouse - admission free - and copies of Allan’s new book about the history of the club will be on sale.

The final weekend of the festival includes a Feast of Organ Music on Friday September 23 with renowned international concert organist Gordon Stewart at Providence Church, and another great comedy night at Chalkers.

A bumper day of events on Saturday September 24 includes a further opportunity to visit New Mills Alternative Health Clinic - this time to enjoy a Swedish Back Massage treatment at half price.

Also on September 24, at the Revival Church at 11am, there will be a chance to experience an entertaining and inspiring event Exploding Custard – described as ‘awesome do-it-yourself science experiments you can annoy your parents with afterwards’. This event is free, suitable for children, families and adults. Refreshments will be on sale with donations invited to the Uganda Orphan appeal.

Throughout Saturday, the ‘Made in New Mills’ event at Providence Church and at the New Mills Original Gallery will offer wonderful work to view and buy, created by local artists and craftspeople. Entrance to both events is free.

And in the afternoon there will be another opportunity to learn more about Torrs Hydro, with a guided tour of the first community-owned hydropower scheme in the Torrs Riverside Park.

Saturday evening sees the famous magical lantern procession which starts below New Mills Central station at 7.30pm and passes over the Millennium Walkway, through the Torrs and up to Newtown Recreation Ground, where there will be live music and a firework display.

The final day of the festival takes place on Sunday September 25 with a chance to enjoy an apple-focused, free family-fun afternoon at New Mills Community Orchard, next to High Lea Park. In the evening, New Mills Churches will hold their Songs of Praise event at St George’s Church.

For full details, visit www.newmillsfestival.com or telephone 01663 744907.