Ironbridge Festival of Imagination to return this autumn

The Festival of Imagination will return to Ironbridge this autumn despite scores of events falling victim to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Festival of Imagination 2019
The Festival of Imagination 2019

The event will feature a new mix of online and interactive outdoor activities, including specialist talks, poetry, micro events, walks and trails when it takes place between September 12 and 27.

The Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Site will once again be showcasing arts, crafts, culture, music, landscape and literature with the perfect backdrop – plus a new opportunity this year to ‘taste the Gorge’, with an additional focus on food, inviting food producers to join.

The council’s culture and events team, with the support of the Festival Steering Group and many partner organisations, has been working hard to ensure this year’s event can return safely, in line with government guidelines.

All online elements will be free of charge, while socially distanced workshops and live performances will be ticketed.

The programme is now coming together for 2020, with join-in-at-home and live streaming events planned to ensure social distancing.

The festival’s approach echoes visitors’ feedback as well as the Love your Home campaign, recently launched for the summer holidays by Discover Shropshire and Telford, inviting families to continue to explore, appreciate and enjoy what is on their doorstep.

Carolyn Healy, Telford & Wrekin Council’s cabinet member for Visitor Economy and the world heritage site said: “We are delighted to announce the return of The Festival of Imagination.

“It was a huge success last year and in order to host it safely this year, our teams and partners have been working hard to ensure social distancing measures are in place and some of the events are being streamed online, so more people can take part from the comfort of their own home.

“We have a wide range of interactive activities planned, including a new ‘taste the Gorge’ locally-sourced food element but also many activities from last year, such as art, poetry, local history workshops, local walks and trails and many others.”

Celebrity chef and 'Shropshire Lad' Adam Purnell is already on board.

He said: "I am super excited to be working with The Festival of Imagination after the strangest summer I've ever known.


“It’s great to put on some entertainment and great food for people once again.

“Ironbridge had been my stomping ground since I was a kid, and I'm incredibly passionate about the area and our incredible local products, so this one is right up my street and I can't wait to get stuck in."

Marion Blockley, from the Ironbridge Coracle Trust, said: “The Ironbridge Coracle Trust is delighted to be part of the Ironbridge Festival Steering Group once again.

“Sadly this year the ever popular Coracle Regatta can’t take place due to coronavirus restrictions.

“But with the help of the festival team we will be celebrating happy memories from last year via a Twitter Storm.

“We will also be sharing stories online of the Ironbridge coracle tradition and coracle heritage from around the world.”

Rod Sheppard’s, chairman of Secret Severn Arts, said: “It is great to know that The Festival of Imagination is going ahead this year and that it is linked to the Secret Severn Art Trail, which starts on September 3.

“It is so important that, after all the pain and frustrations of lockdown, we involve the public in this exciting cocktail of activity all linked to the arts, history and local culture.

“I can’t think of a better way of promoting a spirit of optimism and creativity across our community.”

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