Organisers promise “something for everyone” at New Mills festival

The Torrs Gorge lantern procession
The Torrs Gorge lantern procession

The annual New Mills Festival returns this Friday and organisers say it will be “bigger and better than ever.”

Over the course of the next two weeks the High Peak town will be throwing open its doors to more than 15,000 visitors and over 70 events.

Toyah Willcox (Photo: Dean Stockings)

Toyah Willcox (Photo: Dean Stockings)

This year’s programme’s theme of toys and games seeks to aim the festival’s programme at a younger audience but the presence of acts such as Toyah Willcox will ensure the festival has something for everyone.

Committee chair, Lyn Bannister, who has worked on the festival for the last seven years, said: “It is just getting bigger and bigger every year.

“Everybody gets really involved and it is a great way of promoting New Mills.”

In terms of particular highlights from this year’s programme, Lyn is keen to stress the varied and eclectic nature of the lineup but admits that a certain flame haired 80s hitmaker will dominate at least the early part of the fortnight.

Artwork by Clare Allan

Artwork by Clare Allan

“Obviously Toyah will be a big draw but the folk night will also be very popular and the visual arts elements of the programme are now a big part as well with the arts trail and the big weekend on the final two days.

“She is such a great showman and we know people in New Mills like their rock music so I think it will be a really lovely way to start the festival off.”

Also featured in the musical programme are local bands The Gally Canters, Lazlo Baby, The Dave Evans Gypsy Jazz Ensemble and The Hayes Sisters plus the ever popular New Mills Band who are this year accompanied by the Ladybrook Singers at New Mills Town Hall.

In addition, the festival will also feature a “teenage” market, a children’s community cinema, a family fun day and a comedy night as well as a diverse mix of walks, talks, plays, poetry, talent shows and open days.

The Galley Canters

The Galley Canters

Over the last twenty years, the festival has become a really important part of Derbyshire’s late summer calendar, bringing people into the area from far and wide and showcasing the usually quiet High Peak town to the outside world.

And the increasingly popular lantern parade, added to celebrate the millennium in the year 2000, means the festival always ends on a spectacular note, with 8000 people taking part last year alone.

“This year we’re very pleased to announce that we will be working with the internationally renowned Walk The Plank who will be providing creative input for the fantastic fire effects that line the procession route down in The Torrs,” Lyn added.

“It’s going to be a magical experience!”

The Hayes Sisters

The Hayes Sisters

When it comes to the future, Lyn says the festival has now become so big it has become difficult to run as a purely volunteer based event.

“What we really need is for some more volunteers to do some admin or possibly a big pot of grant money so we can employ some temporary staff!”

You could say that the festival, or at least its organisers, have become victims of their own success.

Full details of all the events, printable art trail maps, festival programmes and dates and times for lantern making workshops can be found on the festival’s dedicated website at www.newmillsfestival.com.

Fire breather (Photo: Dagomir Oniwenko)

Fire breather (Photo: Dagomir Oniwenko)

Bubble man (Photo: Dagomir Oniwenko)

Bubble man (Photo: Dagomir Oniwenko)