VIDEO: Visitors flock to the town to see arts festival events

Organisers of Belper Arts Festival say visitor numbers are up on expectations as the celebration prepares to enter its third week.

Between 1,100 and 1,200 people are thought to have enjoyed the variety of events going off across the town since the beginning of May.

Belper Art in the Park: Karen Williams with her recycled garden sculptures.

Belper Art in the Park: Karen Williams with her recycled garden sculptures.

Belper Arts Festival co-ordinator George Gunby said: “It’s better than we thought - it’s great that so many have interacted with the festival. It’s in front of the numbers we expected and we hope it can only build over the next fortnight.

“People have come from places such as Halifax, Baslow, Nottingham, Long Eaton and Ashbourne to attend the events. Hopefully the cafes and shops have benefited from the extra people coming into town.”

Among the highlights this week was Art in the Park (pictured), which saw a diverse group of artists showcase their talents in the Memorial Gardens on Saturday.

Mr Gunby continued: “Before the rain came it was really popular with lots of people wandering in to have a look. There was a wide variety of creative folk with all sorts of talents.

“On Sunday an art auction at Lion Hotel raised £550 for Alfreton Special Needs School.The art sold was created by Belper artists and we were thrilled to bits with the total.

“We have also had a lot of positive comments about the concert at Helix Ensemble on Saturday. It was terrific night with quality musicians playing fantastic music.”

This week Pete Castle is celebrating 35 years of singing his songs and telling his stories with a special concert on Thursday at the Market Place venue No28.

In his 35 years on the road, Pete has performed all over the world. His relaxed style has endeared him to audiences at folk clubs, concert halls and festivals. His storytelling began in the 1980s.

He said: “It’s something of a landmark for me and what better way to celebrate than with a concert in the town I live in and love. It will be a typical Pete Castle concert with traditional English songs and storytelling but much of it will be new to Belper audiences.

“The arts festival is a great innovation and I am thrilled to be part of it.”

On Saturday night there is also a theatre night taking place in the basement of North Mill. There is also a Festival of Song at St Peter’s and a “pop up choir” which anyobody can join on the day will be practising from 2pm ready for a performance in the evening. For full listings, see page 23.

Entries are also being sought for the ‘Beast Of Belper’ Short Story Competition. Youngsters aged under 10 and 10-13 should send their name, age, adress, email and phone number along with a story of up to 500 words about the beast to J Hardy, 54 Sisley Avenue, Stapleford, Nottingham, NG9 7HT by May 21.

There will be prizes for winners and an anthology of beast drawings and stories produced after the festival.