Kenilworth Arts Festival prepares to welcome big names and fascinating ideas

Isata Kanneh-Mason is among the performers coming to Kenilworth
Isata Kanneh-Mason is among the performers coming to Kenilworth

Kenilworth is gearing up to welcome a host of famous names from the literary and music world for what is fast becoming one of the largest arts festivals in the area.

Kenilworth Arts Festival, which runs from Thursday, September 19, to Saturday, September 28, will present more than 35 events in a wide range of venues, transforming the town into a world-class stage for arts, music, performance and the spoken word.

First details of the festival line-up, now in its fourth year, were announced in June. Since then, organisers have added a whole raft of new artists and events, including talks from best-selling novelist Clare Mackintosh, The Guardian’s Amelia Gentleman, who was awarded Journalist of the Year 2018 after exposing the Windrush scandal, and Nathan Filer, mental health nurse and award-winning author of the international bestseller The Shock of The Fall.

Two further concerts have also been added – an evening of contemporary folk music featuring emerging artists Joshua Burnside and Rosie Carney, and a double bill of cinematic, instrumental music which, in a UK premiere, will feature a joint performance from Polish cellist Resina and Brussels-based composer Christina Vantzou. More recently, the festival has announced a series of film screenings, which includes a Midlands premiere of For Sama, which won the Prix L’Œil d’Or for Best Documentary at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival.

Opening the festival will be the critically acclaimed singer-songwriter Nadia Reid, from New Zealand, who will be performing a rare UK concert in St Nicholas Church. Celebrated for her intimate musical soundscape and unique voice, Nadia has played all over the world, appeared on BBC’s Later … with Jools Holland and her album Preservation was placed at number two in Mojo’s album of the year list in 2017.

On September 26 the festival will host pianist Isata Kanneh-Mason. A finalist in the BBC Young Musician of the Year competition in 2014, and the eldest of the talented Kanneh-Mason family - her brother Sheku played cello at the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex last year - Isata has performed all over the world at venues such as Carnegie Hall and the Barbican. Another notable live music event is an appearance from American jazz pianist Darius Brubeck, son of the legendary Dave Brubeck.

Aside from music, the festival boasts a strong programme of literary events. The centrepiece is a weekend of talks, readings and panel discussions on September 21 and 22. Joining the line-up of writers are the award-winning human rights campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez OBE - who will be talking about her latest book, Invisible Women - Nikesh Shukla, Kerry Hudson, Nathan Filer and Amelia Gentleman, and debut novelists Candice Carty-Williams, Elizabeth Macneal and Rosie Price. Later in the week the festival will feature a talk on the Untold History of Faber & Faber, as well as an event featuring multi-million selling novelist Clare Mackintosh.

Other festival highlights include the English premiere of large-scale outdoor art installation The Gramophone, created by Irish artist Donnacha Cahill; a text art installation produced in collaboration with students from Kenilworth School; a free street party in Kenilworth’s Old Town and an exhibition of work by local artists.

Visitors will also be able to attend a range of professional workshops, including pinhole photography, informal art sessions, shadow puppet making, cyanotype printing and a workshop with Kenilworth-based mosaic artist Helen Clues.

Visit kenilworthartsfestival.co.uk to book.