Arts and culture are at the heart of the revamped website VisitCheshire.com, which officially launches today. Visitors can browse a dynamic programme of performances, exhibitions and festivals entitled Slant, Cheshire’s angle on Arts & Culture, then add their choices to a simple planner to create a handy itinerary.
Slant has been created to showcase the bumper offering of arts and culture across Cheshire taking place in out-of-the-way rural areas and urban centres alike. An opera hall in a farmer’s field, a children’s theatrical romp around the grounds of a stately home, and an international festival of music and science in the shadow of the giant Lovell Telescope are among the inspiring events to be found in unexpected places across the county.
For 2018, Slant will place a special emphasis on the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage, as well as female endeavour in general. Ada Ada Ada, an interactive one-woman show performed in an LED-illuminated costume goes on tour in June, telling the story of Ada Lovelace, who wrote the world’s first complex algorithm in 1843.
The Sandstone Ridge Festival in May, celebrated by villages in Cheshire’s sandstone hills, includes a one-woman show entitled Grasping the Nettle, based on the music and letters of composer and suffragette Dame Ethel Smyth. And Cheshire is also celebrating contemporary female creatives: this year’s Chester Mystery Plays, for example, will be written by Deborah McAndrew, a British playwright and actor well known for playing Angie Freeman in Coronation Street in the 1990s.
Users browsing the programme online can add Slant events alongside other sights and activities to an editable itinerary. Each itinerary comes with a handy map and advice on journey times and distances, which can be downloaded, printed and shared.
Themed highlights from the 2018 Slant programme include:
- Child-friendly theatrical performances, as well as cinema and a dedicated library with activities laid on, take place year-round at Storyhouse, the new arts centre in Chester.
- An innovative and interactive outdoor family adventure, the Just So Festival, fuses theatre, dance, music and comedy in the grounds of the historic Rode Hall, near Congleton, 17-19 August.
- The forest comes alive with sound and light at the audiovisual spectacular the Magical Woodland at Blakemere Village, 20 October-2 November.
- Salt, a new virtual-reality dance experience about the gruelling life of the Cheshire salt workers, is showing at the Lion Salt Works Museum, near Northwich, until 31 March.
- Warrington Contemporary Arts Festival continues year-round, celebrating art in all its modern forms at venues across the town.
- Bluedot at the Jodrell Bank observatory near Holmes Chapel, 19-22 July, combines music and science with performances by international names such as The Chemical Brothers and expert talks by the likes of Professor Alice Roberts.
- Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing and The Tempest are on the programme at Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre in Grosvenor Park, Chester, 6 July-26 August.
- Despite its name, the Clonter Opera Theatre showcases music across the genres in the unlikely venue of a farm near Congleton. Jazz in June, 9 June, and La Bohème, 20-28 July, are just two of the picks of this year’s programme.
- Moonlight Flicks hosts open-air movie shows in Chester’s Roman Gardens in July and August.
- Delamere Forest provides the spectacular backdrop for this year’s line-up of Forest Live concerts, including Paloma Faith on 10 June.
- Villages across Cheshire’s sandstone hills will celebrate their surroundings at The Sandstone Ridge Festival, 17-20 May, with music, theatre and spoken word. Women’s suffrage will be one of this year’s themes.
- The canal is at the heart of the Middlewich FAB Festival (folk and boats), where musician Peter Hook, formerly of Joy Division and New Order, is this year’s headline act and other attractions include a floating market, from 15-17 June.
- War, environmental disasters and other concerns of the modern age will be reflected in the 2018 Chester Mystery Plays, which return to the city’s Cathedral on their five-year cycle from 27 June-14 July.
- The Year of Women at National Trust is a year-round programme taking place at venues across the county, including Tatton Park, Lyme Park, Little Moreton Hall and Arley Hall.
- The Barnaby Festival, a get-together for the Macclesfield community that dates back to the 13th century, will take place from 15-24 June. Shops, cafés and disused buildings will double as venues for this celebration of the arts.