Preview: Canterbury Festival 2016 (15 October to 5 November): A mixed bag of delights!


With over 200 events spanning three weeks this autumn, the Canterbury Festival will again bring music, performance, talks, science, visual art and walks to the forefront of this iconic cultural city in the heart of east Kent.  

The popular Spiegeltent is returning for 2016, oozing glamour and vintage charm. With a change of location bringing it closer to the city centre, it’s now just a short stroll along the King’s Mile. Australian circus troop Circa will take over the Spiegeltent for three nights with their beautifully crafted physical feats of daring. If you prefer cabaret, fear not, Mistress of Ceremonies, Lili la Scala, will be in residence along with some of her most beloved cabaret reprobates for two nights.


Circa II. Credit Andy Phillipson

The Olivier award-winning Showstoppers will entertain you with their incredible improvised all-singing, all-dancing production, while the ABode Hotel will host The Wedding Reception, an opportunity to become a guest at one of the most hilarious social events of the year.

The Festival boasts as always a selection of eclectic talks: among the speakers are wine expert Oz Clarke, the blooming marvellous Monty Don, and historians David Starkey, Tracy Borman and Kate Williams, who’ll give us the lowdown on everything from the Magna Carta to the Roaring 20s.

Artists appearing this year include Classic FM favourite, guitarist Miloš with the English Chamber Orchestra Ensemble. En route to the Royal Albert Hall, he’ll perform a programme of music spanning the centuries from Bach to Beatles. If your taste is pop from the 70s – Gilbert O’Sullivan will be taking you on a musical tour of his hits from yesteryear.

Gilbert O’Sullivan

Family activities in October half-term will keep the kids busy, with Marvellous Medicine, Little Monsters and Magic’s Collision with Science ready to spark the imagination. But it’s not just about the children – this year the Festival is delighted to have a family friendly cabaret show, Variety Soup. Stuffed with wondrous antics and lots of laughs, it’s suitable for everyone from 7 to 107.

Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Medicine

The Festival is also giving budding young artists the opportunity to gain an Arts Award Discover Certificate for free, creating a Half Term Hub where kids can get creative. And adults can try their hand at pottery – for free – with the Canterbury Throwdown shop, open for the first two weeks of the festival.

Canterbury Festival aims to fill every available city space with entertainment. Look up high in the Guard Chamber of the Westgate Tower, or down the medieval alleyways and you’ll find a show or exhibition.

The full programme of 2016 events is in the Festival brochure, which is available to download now at

For information on where to stay, eat and discover further entertainment across the city, please see the Festival’s Big Day Out, Big Eat and Big Sleepover pages on the website.