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West Sussex Gets into the London 2012 Spirit with Ahead of the Game Festival

  • Date: 10 July 2012
  • Area: London, South East
Dromos at Church Farm, Coombes

Dromos at Church Farm, Coombes. Credit: Courtesy of West Sussex Ahead of the Games

West Sussex is to hold its own celebrations as part of the London 2012 Festival with five unique projects including a Brazilian style carnival, a late night choral performance, a children’s opera, a botanical treasure hunt, and a travelling festival.

The Ahead of the Game Festival takes place from July to September across the county and is part of the London 2012 Festival, a 12 week UK-wide cultural celebration for the Olympic and Paralympic Games showcasing the very best of British creative talent and artistic excellence.

There are heaps of fantastic performances and events, some free, but all appealing to a wide range of audiences. 

On Saturday 14 July and Sunday 15 July, West Dean College Gardens will host a special 60-minute choral performance called Whispering Woods, which begins at twilight and ends in darkness. More than 150 singers will perform four acapella works: Whispering Woods commissions Goro Le by Bulgarian composer Kiril Todorov and White Stars, Green Leaves by award-winning Sussex-born composer Lynne Plowman, and two English folk songs arrangements by Anna Tabbush.

Audiences will wander around beautiful light sculptures amongst the trees that inspired William Blake's Jerusalem and listen to songs inspired by the landscape, polyphonic singing traditions and Estonian’s largest amateur choral event in the world.

On Sunday 15 July, Blue Touch Paper Carnival presents a new Rio-style float and ‘bateria’ created with disabled and non-disabled carnival artists from the UK and Brazil at Sparks in the Park in Horsham Park at 12pm as part of the Olympic Torch celebrations.

The carnival is an internationally pioneering initiative started in West Sussex, to create opportunities for people with disabilities to make top quality carnival in an accessible way. Partners include Blue Hub-bubble, Horsham District Council, Sarah Pickthall from Cusp Inc, and Arts Council England National portfolio organisation The New Carnival Company.

This year’s carnival project – Rio Collaborations - brought together several disability groups from the Isle of Wight, samba partners from Horsham, and Luis Vianna and Paul Davis from Rio’s only disability Samba School (Embaixadores Da Alegria) to create a special St George and the Dragon themed carnival presentation. The collaboration also celebrates the handover of the Olympics from London to Rio for 2016.

On Sunday 15 July, an eclectic travelling festival called Dromos Festival visits Church Farm, nestled in the South Downs, near Lancing, offering families and local people a superb mix of theatre, dance, music, street performance, circus and workshops – free and organised by young people, for young people. The day runs from 12 to 6pm - its lineup includes Gypsy Switch, Bella Music, Talking Birds Theatre Company, Sleeping Trees Theatre, Replica Dance Company, Delve Dance Company, percussion and Bollywood workshops, plus a variety of entertainers. On site, there will also be food and drink for sale, free parking, and toilet facilities.

On Tuesday 17 July, the Dromos Festival is taking part in the East Grinstead Torch Relay event from 12 to 5pm. The free lineup includes a community choir, jazz musician, Olympic stilt walkers and fire performances, Pickled Image theatre group and Etta Ermini Dance Theatre, plus face painting and balloon animals.

Theatre group Goat & Monkey and game producer and writer David Varela present four performances of The Burning Gardens from The Seed, a new immersive theatre piece inspired by the Victorian botanists who collected seeds from around the world for the great gardens of Sussex. They run from Thursday 19 July to Sunday 22 July in Borde Hill Gardens, Haywards Heath, at 8.15pm.

The Seed is also an online interactive treasure hunt - see

On Saturday 21 July, Blue Touch Paper Carnival are taking part in the One Hackney Festival in London as part of the Olympic Torch celebration, and Dromos Festival will run another free event in Horsham Park, from 12-5pm, again offering a range of theatre, dance, storytellers and entertainers.

Lastly in September, Ravel’s 45-minute children’s opera The Child & The Magic comes to life in a circus big-top in Bignor Park in the South Downs National Park. The new production features international professional singers, youth orchestra, aerialists, digital animation and projection, large-scale puppets, mechanical structures, and stunning imagery. The opera runs Wednesday 19 to Sunday 23 September, 7.30pm, with matinees on Saturday and Sunday at 3pm.

The Ahead of the Game Festival runs from July to September 2012. For more information, see Follow them on Twitter and Facebook. Tickets for Whispering Woods, The Seed and The Child & The Magic are available from Chichester Festival Theatre or call 01243 781312.