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Coventry's New River Festival

The River Festival, Millennium Place, Coventry 17 – 18 June.


Celebrating the River Sherbourne through music, theatre and dance, the brand new River Festival will bring you live music, theatre, DJs, crafts, dance, poetry and all for free, showcasing work from artists from the city and celebrating the River Sherbourne.

The first ever River Festival is delivered by a collective of organisations at the heart of the city, coming together to showcase the city’s creative, digital, cultural, environmental and engineering sectors. River Festival is led by Coventry Cultural River Consortium with a collective of Coventry based organisations funded by Historic England as part of the High Streets Heritage Action Zone, in partnership with the National Heritage Lottery Fund, Arts Council England and DCMS.

On behalf of the Coventry River Cultural Consortium, Craig Ashley, Deputy Head of the School of Art & Design at Coventry University, said: “We’re thrilled to be working with artists, communities and organisations to bring the first River Festival to Coventry. We want to lift the lid on the city’s underground River Sherbourne, celebrating its leading role in the story of Coventry, and championing its relevance in the contemporary city as a site of natural interest and environmental significance.”

Sound artist Indera. Photo courtesy of the River Festival.

While Sarah Allen, Historic Coventry Trust’s Education and Engagement Manager added: “It’s inspiring to see such an ambitious programme from so many interested individuals and organisations. We hope this will be the first of many distinctive cultural events around the River over the coming years.”

Amongst the artists scheduled to appear are:

On Saturday and Sunday, in Millennium Place Ascension Dance present dynamic, river-inspired performances from their senior youth groups SOAR and VERTEX as well as delivering workshops inviting Festival goers to try out moves inspired by parkour, free running and breakdance.

Ludic Rooms will present Half Truths and Sticklebacks capturing watery tales from the people of Coventry. Through archive materials and lost histories, they will encourage Coventry to think once again about the Sherbourne River. They will be inviting audiences to experience their hoard of imagined images and slightly broken whispers of Coventry's watery past. Exploring folk traditions of a mighty river city that never was.

Talking Birds' The Whale. Photo courtesy of Lucy Agius.

Talking Birds’ The Whale will take up residence in Millennium Place across the weekend. Enter through the Whale’s mouth one at a time or in small family groups to experience a witty and charming 3-minute watery themed theatre show, performed by a solo actor just for you.

Indira, an audio-visual artist based in Coventry, will bring field recording, programming, microcontrollers, DIY Electronics and composed sound using various instruments and found objects creating a unique sound installation for the River Festival.

An indoor Digital Gallery space will screen Coventry-based filmmaker Ben Cook’s 2020 documentary made in partnership with Argentinian artist, Mariana Bollati, and South African producer Pierre Heistein on the Atuel River. The documentary builds awareness of the impact of human consumption and climate change on the river and opens up a discussion on possible solutions.

One Moment in Time Theatre will be presenting a heart-warming puppet show of The Enormous Turnip for ages 3+, perfect for families. Booking is available on line.

DJ Raymondo. Photo courtesy of the River Festival.

DJ Raymondo will take to the main stage with his funk, soul house to get the Festival pumping on the Sunday afternoon. Ray has been an integral part of Coventry’s music scene through some of its biggest cultural moments, playing on community radio stations, festival events, including working with Craig Charles at HMV Empire.

Plus, staff from The Sherbourne Valley Project will take groups of people to the river’s edge in Palmer Lane and find out a bit about its history, and the project’s plans to improve it.

Charlotte Ridpath, Warwickshire Wildlife Trust and Sherbourne Valley Project said: “We are incredibly excited to be able to celebrate the River Sherbourne through such a wide range of creative talent. The river and its wildlife have shaped Coventry and supported generations of people. Now it’s our turn to take better care of the waterway, after all it flows right through the city centre! People can discover more about nature, wildlife and experience how many different organisations have been inspired by it. Maybe you will be too.”


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