Organisers of the Belper Arts Trail say this year’s event promises to be the ‘best so far’ as preparations enter their final stages.
The popular event, which is now in its third year, will take place on Sunday 1 and Bank Holiday Monday May 2 and will feature 107 artists in 48 venues all over the town.
They hope the paintings, sculpture, photography, glass and jewellery on display will help them build on the estimated 2,000 people who visited in 2015, making it one of the most popular trails in the Midlands.
Organiser, Suzanne Parnell, said: “We just keep growing each year. We start our planning in September when we issue a ‘call out’ to artists and they register to take part.
“Each year we are getting more and more - we prepare a brochure and then they come and set up their ‘stalls’.
“We put them anywhere we can - we have a lot in small independent shops which Belper has a lot of and we can fit about half a dozen in each church.
“And there are even a couple of buildings that we have entirely taken over including one in which we have 11 artists this year.
“It has taken a little while for some of the traders to get on board with it but when the artists are bringing people into their shop they feel the benefit.”
The trail was created to promote the growth of local artists, engage with the community and enhance Belper’s reputation as a beautiful and inspiring place to visit.
It now attracts artists from across the country while still keeping the work of local artists at the forefront.
“We get the artists who come to take up residence in the shops, cafes, churches and halls - basically whatever venues that we can get.
“And many shop and cafe windows will have art on display as well,” Suzanne said.
“This year we will also be setting up a focal area for the trail at the Memorial Gardens where there will be food and drink stalls as well as local bands and children’s entertainers.”
Entertainment includes Captain Dan and his pirate show, who take children and adults alike on a journey of ‘discovery, buried treasure and mutiny’, Messy Moss with his alternative juggling, street magic from Lord Illusion and vintage singer and tap dancer, Rebecca Jayne.
For children they have Twistin’ Tots with dance and music, Jumping Clay with pirate based workshops and Book Magic with interactive play sessions.
The Arts Trail guides which can be bought for £3 contain a map identifying venues and artists as well as times of events during the two days.
However, there are even trails within the trail and organisers are keen for people to look out for the OxyMoron Trail and Arts and Heritage Walks as well.
One of the trail’s undoubted centrepieces this year is a ceramic nail installation where six hundred nails will be placed onto the Heritage Centre’s internal steps and laid out to represent the height of the industry in Belper.
“Belper has certainly got more arty in recent years but until the festival and trail started the artists had never been brought together.
“But it isn’t just local artists - the lady who has done the nails is from Norfolk and yet she has done something that really focuses on the history of Belper.”
The trail kicks off the month long festival on May 1 but the festivities will actually start on April 30 with a charity concert.
Over the following two days there will be three music stages, with a full music programme from 12-4pm on each day.
Finally, from 5pm on Monday May 1 there will be the After Trail Party in the Memorial Gardens with live music until 9pm.
Trail brochures are available now from Time and Again on King Street or from the Market Place, Memorial Gardens or the Lion Hotel on the weekend itself.