Belper Arts Trail organisers reveal big plans for Bank Holiday event

The Belper Arts Trail returns over the Bank Holiday weekend, May 6-7.
The Belper Arts Trail returns over the Bank Holiday weekend, May 6-7.

With just two weeks to go, organisers have revealed more details about their plans for another dazzling edition of the Belper Arts Trail.

The fifth annual event is being held at venues throughout the town over the Bank Holiday weekend, May 6-7, and anticipation is building for it to be bigger and better than ever.

Co-founder Suzanne Parnell said: “The team have been very busy thinking up new ideas and approaches to keep the event fresh, with lots of new things happening and places to visit.”

“We have also been conscious this year to try and do something a bit differently while not breaking the format which works well.”

More than 100 artists and 50 venues are set to be involved in pop-up exhibitions, performances and demonstrations over the course of two days, with an estimated 3,000 people attending the event in 2017.

The biggest new addition will be the Strutts centre, which is making its debut as one of the host venues and offered the organisers chance to grow.

Suzanne said: “Strutts have been very keen to get involved and this gives us the chance to expand the trail that bit further.

“It will be quite a hub of activity, with 26 artists in total including demos by Lor Bird. We have a mixture of artists who are old favourites and plenty of newcomers too.”

She added: “We will have live acoustic music between noon and 4pm each day too, and Strutts will also be opening the café area to serve their legendary bacon sandwiches.”

Strutts will be the first point of call on one of two trails outlined in the event brochure, which have been designed to give people more options on how to navigate the town and see more of the artists’ work.

Suzanne said: “We have introduced a bit of a change this year so that venues later in the trail hopefully get earlier footfall, spreading it more evenly between between 10.30am and 4.30pm.

“The lower trail and upper trail will be distinguished in the brochure and on their signs by different colours.”

Also new for this year is Co:Creators, a concept developed by local jeweller Richard Bett.

This will involve a series of craft demonstrations in a marquee in the Market Place where the intricate work of jewellers, felt artists and ceramicists will be displayed on large screens in the marquee so that visitors can get a first-hand close up view of the work unfolding before their eyes.

There will be other demonstrations outside the marquee, while community café Number 28 will host exhibitions and sales of the work by the artists and crafters.

The arts trail will contain a musical trail too, which has been devised and coordinated by Tom Stone and Jake Farrell.

Suzanne said: “Much of our approach is to make sure that people have a good day out as well as taking in the art. Music has always been integral to that, and this year we have even more.”

As well as the traditional main stage, provided by Graham Marriott and Loz Shaw in the Memorial Gardens, there will be a further nine music ‘busk stops’ throughout the town operating from 12noon to 4pm.

Full details of all venues will be in the trail brochure. Some busk stops are at host venues on the main trail, while others are venues which are within the trail boundary, which will be marked by busk stop signs outside.

Suzanne said: “A lot of work goes into getting the town ready and we are now busy designing and printing a lot of signage to assist visitors around the trail.”

Free parking at Babbington Hospital will make the lower trail easily accessible, going from Strutts along Chapel Street and Bridge Street to the North Mill and then back to take in the bottom of King Street. The upper trail will start in the Market Place.

As ever, a brochure and entry badge for all trail venues will cost £3.

For all the latest news about the event programme, visit www.belperarts.org.