Jesmond Community Festival
Jesmond Community Festival 2023
The 2023 Jesmond Community Festival comprised 91 events, exhibitions and competitions, slightly more than last year’s 79, and total attendances (around 12,800) were also slightly more than in the previous year (12,000). Once again, the programme lasted for 30 days, with at least one event on every day and up to five on busy Saturdays and seven on one Sunday (21 May).
As last year, outdoor events seemed to be particularly popular, with most Guided Walks being full to capacity and the Teddy Bear Trail being another success, this year with a musical theme. The range of musical events is astonishing, with everything from full-scale orchestral and choral concerts to performances by West Jesmond School pupils in Jesmond Library and by Semitones (a small local instrumental group) in two local care homes, plus folk and jazz events.
It was good to see three of the groups based in Exhibition Park join together for the first time in Jesmond Festival, on one Sunday of events in the park. Other welcome “firsts” were a concert by the North East Recorder Orchestra and a Ceilidh with the Redheughers. St George’s Church is joining the United Reformed Church as a venue for musical events, in the case of St George’s featuring their magnificent organ.
Event organisers tried to cater for a range of ages and interests, including children’s crafts and “Wellbeing for Life”, for older people, both in Jesmond Library, a flexible venue which also hosted musical events, a range of talks and two art exhibitions. Jesmond Pool and Gym and the Northumberland Club both provided free taster exercise sessions of various sorts, and there were also opportunities to take part in croquet and cycling.
Plastic Free Jesmond and Sandyford and the Glorious Gardens Group both organised their annual competitions to conclude during the festival period, while there were also opportunities to take part in Jesmond Community Forum’s annual photographic competition and in the Festival 30-day Cleaner Air Challenge, organised by Climate Action Newcastle.
The main expense incurred by Jesmond Community Forum itself is in the printing of festival programmes and posters, along with maintaining the festival website. While the Forum itself is able to contribute some funding from donations received during previous festivals, we are very grateful for the continuing support of the City Council’s North Jesmond, South Jesmond and Dene and South Gosforth Ward Committees, along with member organisations Jesmond Community Orchard, the Friends of Jesmond Library and West Jesmond Allotment Association. Other organisations and individuals, including Jesmond Choral Group and the Redheughers, collected money during this year’s festival events.
But we know that this cash represents only the tip of an iceberg, compare with the amount of volunteer time and “support in kind” contributed by members of the many event organising organisations and venues taking part in the festival. Thank you to you all! We know that some of you, at least, benefit from giving your organisations and activities a higher profile amongst local residents, which will hopefully benefit you long after this year’s festival is over, and we all start thinking about 2024!