Despite many events being cancelled this year due to coronavirus, “The Festival of Imagination” will return to the Ironbridge Gorge this autumn with a new and exciting mix of online and interactive outdoor activities, including specialist talks, poetry, micro events, walks and trails. People will be able to indulge in the rich heritage, arts and landscape of the gorge either online or in person, while also staying safe.
The “Festival of Imagination”, facilitated by Telford & Wrekin Council in partnership with community groups and local businesses, will run between 12-27 September.
The Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Site will once again be showcasing wonderful arts, crafts, culture, music, landscape and literature with the perfect backdrop – plus a new opportunity this year to ‘taste the gorge’, with an additional focus on local food, inviting local food producers to join.
The Council’s Culture and Events Team, with the support of the Festival Steering Group and many partner organisations have been working hard to ensure this year’s popular event can return safely, in line with government’s guidelines.
All online elements will be free of charge, while socially distanced workshops and live performances will be ticketed.
The programme is now coming together for 2020, with exciting ideas, ‘join in at home’ and live streaming events planned – to ensure social distancing.
The festival’s approach echoes visitors’ feedback (on currently staying closer to home) as well as “Love your Home” campaign, recently launched for the summer holidays by Discover Shropshire and Telford, inviting families to continue to explore, appreciate and enjoy what is on their doorstep.
Carolyn Healy, Telford & Wrekin Council’s cabinet member for Visitor Economy & The World Heritage site said: “We are delighted to announce the return of “The Festival of Imagination”.
“The Festival was a huge success last year and in order to host it safely this year, our teams and partners have been working hard to ensure social distancing measures are in place and some of the events are being streamed online, so more people can take part from the comfort of their own home.
“We have a wide range of interactive activities planned, including a new ‘taste the gorge’ locally sourced food element but also many activities from last year, such as art, poetry, local history workshops, local walks and trails and many others.”
Local celebrity chef, Shropshire Lad, Adam Purnell, is already on board and said: ‘I am super excited to be working with Festival of Imagination, after the strangest summer I’ve ever known.
“It’s great to put on some entertainment and great food for people once again! “Ironbridge had been my stomping ground since I was a kid, and I’m incredibly passionate about the area and our incredible local products, so this one is right up my street and I can’t wait to get stuck in!’
Marion Blockley, from Ironbridge Coracle Trust said: “The Ironbridge Coracle Trust is delighted to be part of the Ironbridge Festival Steering Group once again.
“Sadly this year the ever popular Coracle Regatta can’t take place due to coronavirus restrictions.
“But with the help of the Festival Team we will be celebrating happy memories from last year via a Twitter Storm.
“We will also be sharing stories online of the Ironbridge Coracle tradition and Coracle Heritage from around the world.”
Rod Sheppard’s, Chair of Secret Severn Arts, said: “It is great to know that the Festival of Imagination is going ahead this year and that it is linked to the Secret Severn Art Trail, which starts on 3 September.
“It is so important that, after all the pain and frustrations of the “lock-down”, we involve the public in this exciting cocktail of activity all linked to the arts, history and local culture.
“I can’t think of a better way of promoting a spirit of optimism and creativity across our community.”