May 2023

Jesmond Community Festival

The 2019 Jesmond Community Festival was the fifteenth to take place since the tradition of festivals in Jesmond was revived in 2005. The 2020 Festival had to be cancelled as a result of the COVID lockdown, but a limited festival was able to take place in 2021. The 2022 Festival was almost “back to normal” and by 2013 we were once again “firing on all cylinders”!


Festival History

Jesmond Community Festivals aim to make Jesmond a better place to live, attract more supporters and participants to all the organisations taking part, cater for people of all ages and backgrounds, and strengthen joint working between organisations, as well as entertaining residents and visitors, and showcasing local culture and vibrant community life.

The 2005 and 2006 events were fairly modest affairs, held in the Winter, while the 2007 – 2012 festivals took place in March and April. In 2013 the festival took place in May, for the first time. A much-loved feature of many of the early festivals was a Grand Festival Parade from St George’s Church, down Osborne Road and Acorn Road, and ending up in West Jesmond School. However a combination of increasing concerns for Health and Safety, and the reducing availability of grants, meant that by 2017 the Festival Parade had had to be shelved.

The 2020 Festival was cancelled at the last minute, as a result of the COVID pandemic. By 2021 a limited festival was able to be held, largely online or in the open air, but by 2022 most restrictions had been lifted and the 2022 Festival was largely “back to normal”. The 2023 Festival was even better than 2022!

A symbol of all the Jesmond Community Festivals held so far has been Marjorie Dodds, our very own Town Crier. Some of the most popular festival events have repeated every year since the early days, but each year has also seen a handful of innovations and experiments. Some events attract large numbers of participants, but others rate themselves as highly successful in their own terms if they attract two or three extra visitors to a regularly occurring group activity.

Each year every effort is made to ensure that there are events likely to appeal to all ages, such as the Teddy Bear Trail and Model Steam Train Rides for children and families, and events organised with the help of the Elders Council of Newcastle, to cater for older people.

The venues are also very varied, normally including most of Jesmond’s Churches and Church Halls, Jesmond Library, Jesmond Pool and Gym, Jesmond Old Cemetery, Jesmond Dene, Exhibition Park and several of Jesmond’s residential homes.

Most individual festival events are organised by the host organisation or venue and are self-financing and either free or at low cost for attendees. Some raise money for specified charities. Jesmond Community Forum, the coordinating body for the festival, covers the costs of printing the festival programmes, other publicity, insurance and incidental expenses from grants, donations and collections at festival events.

The Council’s Ward Committees have been major sources of funding, but in recent years, as they themselves have been hit by budget cuts, other local businesses and organisations have come forward with offers of funding. Many of the local community organisations organising festival events also contribute to central costs or organise collections of voluntary donations to support future festivals.