Wirral Festival of Firsts gets underway this weekend. It’s an annual arts extravaganza that’s been getting bigger and more diverse each year, expanding beyond its original Hoylake base to incorporate events in West Kirby, New Brighton and Meols. High profile participants this year include Willy Russell, Mike McCartney, Ian McMillan and Radio Merseyside’s Frankie Connor, but there’s a huge amount of lesser known creative talent to enjoy, plus plenty of opportunities to participate if you’ve got artistic leanings yourself.
Here’s a selection from what’s on offer, but check out the festival website for the full programme, as well as for information on ticketed events (much of the festival is free) – there’s a link below.
Art will be on display at various locations along Hoylake’s Market Street. You can also enjoy a special exhibition of paintings by comedian Harry Hill at Holiday Inn, Hoylake, with the same venue also exhibiting photographs by Mike McCartney. Sunday 13 July is Art on the Promenade day in Hoylake, with artworks to admire, alongside workshops and demonstrations.
Melrose Hall has a full week of theatre from 5 – 12 July, with a variety of dramatic performances, including evenings when the audience can participate in discussions about the show and cast their vote in the finals of the Radio Script Competition. Among the plays premiering at the festival is Rosa by Hyacinth Sweeney-Dixon, with Perri Alleyne-Hughes as the famous American civil rights activist Rosa Parks.
Poetry lovers can enjoy a Poetry Day Out at New Brighton’s Floral Pavilion, and Literally…A Bookshop’s Wild Words Street Safari. Again participation from keen local wordsmiths is welcomed. Ian McMillan, the celebrated Bard of Barnsley, appears at the festival on 10 July.
There’s music throughout the festival, with a performance from the Wirral Co-operative Orchestra and a Young Musician’s Concert on 5 July, and a big day of music on Saturday 12 July, when there’ll be open stages at Chantilly Tearooms and Flavours Café and much else besides. On 9 July celebrated classical guitarist Craig Ogden will be giving a recital and leading a workshop.
Spoken Word events include talks from Mike McCartney (8 July) and Willy Russell (9 July). The Wro in West Kirby hosts an afternoon of talks on Saturday 5 July, given by Radio Merseyside’s Frankie Connor and Spencer Leigh, well known local columnist David Charters and former Marvel Comics editor Tim Quinn. For budding writers there are talks and workshops at Melrose Hall on the same day, led by authors Fiona Campbell and Suzanne Christian, and language expert David Crystal.
There’s a day of films at Hoylake Community centre on Sunday 6 July, and two Willy Russell classics (including the rarely seen Our Day Out) at the Holiday Inn, Hoylake on 8 July.
As you can see, there’s a lot going on – including of course much that hasn’t been mentioned. The official website has the full lowdown (click HERE).