The day started at Bishopswood where there was a fabulous family breakfast barbeque. Festival flags made by local schoolchildren were launched on a flotilla of canoes to travel down to Lydbrook Tump, where this year’s annual riverside Tump Fair included the added excitement of a visit by the River Festival.
The flags were welcomed on site by singers from the Garden Café. Entertainment continued with the Water Ones, wrangling in a comic chaos of pouring and spilling, singing and dancing. The Giant Samovar (a large water boiler specially made for the festival in the USA) was there, dispensing tea in a time-honoured symbol of hospitality. There was also a creative celebratory cake made by a local resident.
The River Arts and Entertainments (A&E) Health Check Laboratory was a focus of comic performance with serious undertones. Alongside this, the Caravan of Myths and Legends, sponsored by Puzzlewood, was stuffed full of books. a youth theatre performance in the Garden Café.
An amazing sound installation created with help from the Forest of Dean community also opened over the Bank Holiday. Musician, composer and audio-visual artist Dan Fox has been out collecting the voices of local children and adults, stories, animal noises, birdsong and sounds of the river to bring the “voices of the Valley” to his audio visual installation, Cymbals of Redbrook, on the Gloucestershire village’s disused railway bridge that spans the River Wye between England and Wales. The installation can be experienced until May 8th (12noon to 10pm) and includes an avenue of cymbals suspended from tall poles across the bridge. At night the installation comes alive with LED lighting synchronised with the audio.
On Thursday, May 5th, from 11am to 7pm Redbrook also hosts a visit from River Festival performers and two of the caravans which make up the Festival’s travelling Wye Serai - the Caravan of Curiosities and Hydrosities and the Caravan of Fact and Wonder. Later in the evening there’s live music at The Boat Inn.
Meanwhile The George Choir from Newnham will be performing as part of the Wye Valley River Festival at Tintern Old Station on May 6th and at Llandogo on May 14th. The Lydbrook Band are represented at several events, with the full band coming together to play at the grand finale in Chepstow on May 15th. The Forest of Dean Male Voice Choir are also performing at the finale.
The individual caravans and A&E Laboratory which make up the Festival’s travelling Wye Serai will meander through local schools, towns and villages between Hereford and Chepstow from May 4th to 13th and venues include Main Place, Coleford, where the Caravan of Myths and Legends will be making a special appearance on May 12th.