Festival Fever with Fiona Allan

Birmingham Hippodrome CEO, Fiona Allan

It’s nearly summer, and with it comes what was traditionally termed ‘the season’. For some people this now means festivals in all shapes of sizes, from the full camping and muddy welly experience, to boutique specialist festivals for connoisseurs of all types of culture. For others, this means wearing one’s finest, picnics in the park and Pimms.

Words: Fiona Allen

I started my festival season with two very different experiences back-to-back. One weekend had me judging the experimental hip-hop dance battles at Birmingham Hippodrome’s second B-Side Hip-Hop festival, and then two days later in a hat, sensible shift dress and court shoes at a Royal Garden Party. Both very different and equally fabulous examples of British culture – though I was much more comfortable in trainers than heels.

Whatever your festival preference, people like to celebrate by coming together- experiences are magnified and spirits lifted when in a crowd of others having an equally great time. Our extraordinary range of festivals help identify us as people and a nation, uniting diverse interests and cultures. It’s where we discover new talent, taste new food, meet new people and experience the joy of just being together.

There’s much to look forward to over the coming months, so I’ve been mapping out my plans. Next stop for me will be Supersonic, the best and boldest experimental music festival in the country by far- and so lucky we are to have it on our doorstep.

July brings BE festival to Birmingham REP; smashing art-forms and expectations with some great UK and European theatre, interval dinners on the REP mainstage, and DJs into the night. Personally I’m looking forward to ‘Aerobics! A Ballet in 3 Acts’ on Tuesday 4 July, but there is a wide selection of performances to choose from across the week.

Aerobics! A Ballet in 3 Acts, BE Festival

August for me means an annual pilgrimage to Edinburgh, not just to look for shows for the Hippodrome’s main stage, but also smaller and edgier productions for our studio space, The Patrick Centre. I love how manic Edinburgh is at that time of year, though the pace is so crazy, after a few days I start longing for solitude.

Saving one of the best for last – it’s just been announced that Birmingham Weekender will return this year, from 22 – 24 September. A huge celebration of our wonderful city, with the streets and squares of the city centre brought alive by musicians, dancers and artists. And almost all of it is free! Of all Birmingham’s festivals, this one unites so many cultural organisations, big and small, coming together to show this city’s exceptional, world-class culture. Put it in your diaries now and hopefully I’ll see you there!

Follow Fiona on Twitter @Fiona_Allen!