Old cinema reopens its doors for town festival

Performers at a previous Banbury Presents event in April
Performers at a previous Banbury Presents event in April

Banbury town centre will host a Drama and Heritage Festival from today (Thursday) until Saturday.

The event aims to celebrate Banbury’s unique heritage with a three-day event of street theatre, poetry, historical drama, tours, spoken word, choral music and storytelling that will illuminate everyday history and celebrate the town’s nature.

Cherwell District Council’s lead member for ‘brighter futures’, Cllr Kieron Mallon, said: “Cherwell District Council has been working hard to enhance the centre of Banbury as a lively and fun place for shoppers and visitors. This festival is set to attract still more people to explore and enjoy the town’s unique character.”

The event reaches its climax on Saturday when the doors to the former Grand cinema - more recently Wonderlounge - at 60-62 Broad Street will reopen, at 5pm, for the festival’s concluding dramatic performance.

Local heritage walks will tour Old Town, Market Place and High Street today between 9am and 12 noon. Meet at the bandstand on the hour. The tour costs £1 per person.

Tomorrow (Friday) there will be ‘on-the-spot’ dramatic performances in Old Town from 12 noon by Cherwell Theatre Company and choral music by Songthreads Choir.

On Saturday there will be street theatre, poetry, storytelling and hsitorical drama in Old Town and High Street by 12 noon.

An evening performance at the Grand starts at 5pm, with a show by Meg Harper Youth Theatre, storytelling by authors and poets, talks from various speakers and drama from Cherwell Theatre Company, as well as a post-show tour and discussion. Admission costs £2 for adults, with children under 16 admitted free of charge.

The festival is part of ‘Banbury Presents...’, which has been running weekly since April with backing from Cherwell District Council.

The authority recently announced it was extending the work of Banbury’s ‘town-team coordinators’ into a second year.

The district council first appointed town-team co-ordinators Neil Wild and Iain Nicholson in April 2014 to focus on attracting more shoppers, work with landlords and agents to reduce the number of empty shops, promote Banbury to new businesses and help develop schemes to encourage people p spend money in Banbury rather than other towns nearby.