Jesmond Community Festival

Jesmond Community Festival 2022

Planning for a 2022 Jesmond Community Festival began in the autumn of 2021, but at that stage there was still a lot of uncertainty as to what the prevailing restrictions would be in May 2022. This meant that a small number of Jesmond Community Forum’s member organisations felt that they would be unable to commit to taking part in the 2022 festival, and some events were not fixed before the festival programme went to print. (Where possible, “late” events were added to the online version of the festival programme.)

In the end the 2022 Festival was not only able to take place, but in many ways succeeded beyond our expectations, partly (but not entirely) due to a spell of excellent weather. Comments made by festival participants made it clear how pleased many Jesmond residents were to be able to take part in community events again, attend concerts and talks, meet friends or just socialise.

There was nonetheless still a certain degree of caution in taking part in crowded indoor events and on the whole the outdoor events were particularly successful this year.

The final version of the festival programme contained 79 events, spread throughout just over 4 weeks, with the final few days coinciding with the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations. This was very slightly less than the 85 events held in 2019, but many more than the number held in 2021 (55).

On the other hand the approximate total participation in all the 2022 events was around 12,000, compared with 7,800 in 2019. (These totals will include substantial double counting, ie numerous people attending two or more events.)

Many of the events forming part of the festival cost little or nothing, either to those attending or to the festival organisers, due to the huge amount of “help in kind”. Few festival venues charge room hire fees for festival events, and the vast majority of performers and event organisers are amateurs who do not charge for their services.

A number of the events do ask for donations, which make a welcome addition to the funding available for community organisations in Jesmond.

Even before the pandemic we had taken steps to reduce the overall direct cost of the festival, such as by dropping the much-loved (but expensive) festival parade. Moving much of the publicity online has also allowed some economies to be made in printing.

Nonetheless the availability of a generous supply of printed festival programmes, and some banners, printed posters and fliers, do make a welcome addition to raising awareness of the festival, especially for older people and others who may not have such ready access to online information.

This year the direct costs of printing, website maintenance and other publicity came to just under £2,200, which was more than covered by the generous grants that we received from the South Jesmond, North Jesmond, and Dene and South Gosforth Ward Committees of Newcastle City Council.

Other donations received this year, including from Pegasus Jesmond Assembly, part of the Lifestory Group, Jesmond Community Orchard, West Jesmond Allotment Association, the Friends of Jesmond Library (mainly from a share of the ticket sales for the Axum concert) and from collections made at the Guided Walks, will be reserved to help fund future festivals.

Another long list of organisations helped by providing prizes, such as for the Teddy Bear Trail.




2022 ​Events

The individual events which together make up Jesmond Community Festival are very varied, and cater for nearly all age groups and interests. Nonetheless we would be keen to involve more local students, if we can.

Some very successful events cater for a relatively small special interest group, such as the nature lovers who assembled in the Dene at 4:30 am to listen to the Dawn Chorus with the Friends of Jesmond Dene. Other events are much bigger, such as the ever-popular Jesmond Food Markets, the two open air events on St George’s Church Green, the Fete at the beginning of this year’s festival and the “Big Friendly Jubilee Gathering” near its end, and the Model Train rides in Exhibition Park.

Music lovers were particularly well catered for this year, with Jesmond Choral Group and friends performing the Brahms German Requiem, Axum Folk Ensemble and guests Still Awake, the West Jesmond School Festival of Music, Semitones, a whole series of Organ Recitals in St George’s Church, and (a late entry to the programme) the Newcastle University Student Orchestra and Choir.

Besides the West Jesmond Music Festival, mentioned above, children were catered for by the popular Teddy Bear Trail, Bells Yard Fun and Games, the Open Day at the West Jesmond School Allotment, a Disco upstairs at the Pool, and several Crafts sessions, while older people could take part in a Songwriting Workshop, a Poetry Club or a visit to the new Pegasus Jesmond Assembly.

The Guided Walks led by John North, Julie Jacques and the Friends of Jesmond Old Cemetery were all just about fully booked, while other open-air events such as the Tour de Jesmond cycle rally, and Open Days at Jesmond Community Orchard and West Jesmond Allotment Association were also very enjoyable.

Topics covered by talks included A Low Traffic Neighbourhood in Jesmond, ShelterBox, and Women and Radio, while Jesmond Library also hosted the first showing of a new film about Jesmond Community Orchard, and there were quizzes at St George’s and The British Legion Club. A number of free fitness tasters were offered at Jesmond Pool and Gym, while there were exhibitions in Holy Trinity Church and the Library.

Competitions included the awards made for Glorious Gardens and initiatives aimed at promoting a Plastic Free Jesmond and Sandyford, the Teddy Bear Trail, a competition to write a new Song for Jesmond Community Orchard, the Community Forum’s annual photographic competition, and Oxfam’s book collections at West Jesmond School.