May to June 2020

Jesmond Community Festival

Jesmond Community Festival 2019

The 2019 Jesmond Community Festival comprised 85 events spread over 23 days, from 11 May to 2 June. Over 7,800 people attended or took part in festival events, although this total will include a lot of double counting, ie the same people attending two or more events. This success is largely the result of the huge amount of voluntary time and effort which goes into the events, by performers, organisers and host organisations.

In 2019 we tried out a new approach to launch the festival: the St George’s Spring Fair on 11 May was the first large event of the festival proper, but this was preceded on the previous Saturday by an expanded Street Launch in and around Acorn Road. This approach was not a complete success, causing a certain amount of confusion, and there will be further discussion before next year.

Jesmond Community Festival comprises a mix of successful events repeated from previous years and a number of experiments. While there are always some event organisers who are disappointed not to attract larger audiences, the overwhelming majority welcome the extra publicity that taking part in the festival gives them.


2019 Festival

Innovations in 2019 included a number of events held at the Star and Shadow, a very welcome new venue in South Jesmond, which combines a cinema, music venue, café and other facilities, and a performance by “Sax on the Tyne” at St George’s Church Hall. St George’s Church Hall was also the venue for the very funny “Woman of the Year”, featuring Anna Nicholson. Also new to the festival were the Empty Vessel Theatre Company, at St Hilda’s with a show based on memories from local residents, Scottish Country Dancing, also at St Hilda’s, and a number of impromptu street interventions by Newcastle University students.

As usual, the standard and variety of musical performances was particularly high, including three “Music for St Oswald’s” concerts organised by Les Hodgson at the Royal Grammar School and the United Reformed Church, Jesmond Choral Group performing “The Mikado”, also at the United Reformed Church, and children from West Jesmond School, the folk group (Axum) and members of the Newcastle University Jazz Orchestra, all in Jesmond Library.

​The instrumental group Semitones gave informal concerts in three residential homes for elderly people, there was an opportunity to join a Gospel Choir in Jesmond Parish Church, a Young Bands Night at the Star and Shadow, Jazz in the Afternoon at the Royal British Legion, and a very well received classical music evening in the 1901 Caffe Bistro.

Other particularly popular events included the Teddy Bear Trail, organised by volunteers from Jesmond Library, a cluster of events in Exhibition and Brandling Parks, including model train rides, bandstand concerts, a treasure hunt and a brewery tour, the St George’s Church Spring Fair, the Food Fair on Armstrong Bridge and Fun Days in Jesmond Nursery, Jesmond Community Orchard and Bells Yard.

There were a number of excellent lectures in Jesmond Library and elsewhere, including a particularly successful one in the library given by Susan Wood, who assisted the television programme “A House through Time”. There were also opportunities to take part in poetry reading, watch films, join walks of various lengths, cycle, swim, tour the People’s Theatre or Jesmond Old Cemetery, and visit Portland Bowling Green Club, West Jesmond Allotments or the Jesmond Dene Real Tennis Club.

Some events target particular audiences, such as Teatime for Teddy Bears, for small children, or Fun a Fitness for the Over 50’s and Put a Song in Your Heart, for an older audience. The Jesmond Dementia Action Alliance celebrated Dementia Awareness Week by inviting residents’ views on how to make our area more supportive for folk with dementia. To mark the festival, Jesmond Women’s Institute welcomed men to an Open Meeting about police dog handling.

A number of competitions were also linked to the festival, including one for Handkerchief Gardens and one for Children’s Book Reviews.
The 2019 Festival Press Launch was held at 97 and Social in Osborne Road. We are very grateful for their hospitality.