Festival organisers join forces to boost the town's 'brilliant cultural offer'

Morris Men on the seafront during Sidmouth Folk Festival celebration event

Morris dancers at Sidmouth Folk Festival - Credit: Mark Eburne

The organisers of Sidmouth’s many festivals are to explore ways of working more closely together to maximise the benefits to the town’s economy. 

The Jazz and Blues Festival in early June is the latest to be added to the calendar, and its arrival has been welcomed by both the town council and the people behind Sidmouth’s longer-established events; not only festivals, but also the Air Show and the various other events run by the council and Chamber of Commerce.  

This year it coincides with the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, with the Chamber of Commerce Street Party on June 2 and other celebration events taking place locally. Later in June there is the Literary Festival, featuring well-known writers talking about their work. 

Cllr Deirdre Hounsom, who takes the lead on festivals with the town council’s Tourism and Economy working group, said: “The council is pleased to welcome this new festival to our portfolio of festivals, all of which contribute greatly to the vitality and the economy of Sidmouth.  

“It is particularly gratifying to see new festivals being attracted to Sidmouth. which sit perfectly within the aspirations of the Sid Valley Neighbourhood Plan, where ‘the development of a festival identity helps support the diversification of our tourism offer’.  

Most Read

“This is happening before our eyes with festivals like the Science Festival, Walking Festival, Literary Festival, Sea Fest, the Vintage Car Festival and of course the Folk Festival, the largest and oldest of them all.” 

A special reception will take place during the jazz festival, hosted jointly by its director Ian Bowden and the town council, to bring all the other festival organisers together and discuss collaborative ways of working together. Ian said: “The focus is to enhance the creative and artistic offering that collectively all these events provide which in turn assist the Sidmouth economy.” 

The president of Sidmouth Chamber of Commerce, Richard Eley, said: “Ian already runs a similar and very successful event at the lovely town of Rye in Sussex, and we are sure his Sidmouth venture will be a great success. We are keenly anticipating the Jazz Festival, and we look forward to it becoming a regular feature in the expanding Sidmouth calendar.” 

“The Chamber understands the role that festivals can play in supporting local businesses and the wider Sidmouth economy. We also organise other successful events like the Classic Car Show, late night shopping and our hugely popular street parties.” 

Louise Cole, one of the organisers of the Sea Fest and chair of Tourism and Economy at Sidmouth Town Council, said: “Sidmouth Sea Fest 2022 is about to kick off the Sidmouth festival season with its ‘Kelp Our Oceans’ theme.  People say you know summer has started when its Sea Fest time!  It is good to be back with our shared community platform.  Working together with all the other festivals and events across the year is such a positive thing as collectively we make a brilliant cultural offer for both residents and visitors to enjoy and the town as a whole to benefit from.” 

John Braithwaite, director of Sidmouth Folk Festival, said: “As the oldest festival in Sidmouth, we would like to take the opportunity to celebrate the wide variety of other festivals that take place during the year and help to make the town such a special place to live and visit.  

“In particular, we would like to welcome the new Jazz Festival and extend our best wishes for a successful event during the Queen's Platinum Jubilee Celebrations.” 

John Arnatt, organiser of Sidmouth Walking Festival which takes place in September, said the jazz festival ‘adds yet another cultural dimension to our celebrated visitor hotspot’, while town councillor Chris Lockyear, speaking for Sidmouth Science Festival in October, said: “We are delighted to welcome the new Jazz Festival to the Sidmouth calendar. It broadens the offer we as a town can make to entertain and educate residents and visitors alike.”