'Am I in a dream?': DarkFest impresses visitors

'Am I in a dream?' The words of one visitor to DarkFest in Carding Mill Valley last weekend.

SOUTH COPYRIGHT SHROPSHIRE STAR JAMIE RICKETTS 13/11/2021 - DarkFest LightTrail at National Trust Carding Mill Valley. In Picture: Singers..
SOUTH COPYRIGHT SHROPSHIRE STAR JAMIE RICKETTS 13/11/2021 - DarkFest LightTrail at National Trust Carding Mill Valley. In Picture: Singers..

The event, produced by photographer Ben Osborne and creative producer Sian Allen, aimed to entice people outside to play and enjoy the dark skies near Church Stretton.

Ben said: "It went really really well actually. I think when you start a project like this you're not sure if it will work but all the elements combined really well and it worked.

"We wanted to encourage people to get out in the dark, and give them a whole different feeling of place. We have as humans a bit of a fear of the dark. We can't rely on our eyesight, and it is a natural thing to be aware of darkness, but if you go out you realise it might not be as dark as you think, and you can see perfectly well by moonlight."

DarkFest LightTrail at National Trust Carding Mill Valley

A team of five other local creatives: poet Jean Atkin, visual artist Kate Johnston, fire artist Jon Bielstein, storyteller, musician and fitness instructor Sal Tonge and choir leader and composer Mary Keith all lent their time and expertise to creating a magical experience for visitors. Young and old travelled from far and wide to take part.

DarkFest planned to give people unusual creative experiences, opening their eyes to seeing a familiar place in a new way.

DarkFest LightTrail at National Trust Carding Mill Valley

Ben added that the feedback had been very positive. He added: "We had a message from someone from London. They said: 'We are so pleased that we made the journey up to part in Dark Fest, we loved it and it achieved so much on so many levels, in community arts, well being and collaboration'."

Another visitor over the weekend emailed Ben to say that their youngest daughter asked if she was in a dream.

DarkFest LightTrail at National Trust Carding Mill Valley

Ben added: "That is such a cute thing to say, and makes the whole thing worthwhile."

So will the event happen again?

SOUTH COPYRIGHT SHROPSHIRE STAR JAMIE RICKETTS 13/11/2021 - DarkFest LightTrail at National Trust Carding Mill Valley. In Picture: Storyteller Sally Tonge.

Ben explained: "I think the day after the event you sort of thing, oh never again, but it is too early to say. We'll have to wait and see what happens."

The event was made possible by funding from the Arts Council with assistance from the National Trust.

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