South Norwood Arts Festival comes in from the cold

By - Friday 2nd October, 2015

Heather Hardie welcomes the return of South Norwood’s arts festival, now in its eighth year

Photo by SNATH, used with permission.

Ever heard animals sing? Read your own poetry to an audience? Eaten delicious food from twenty countries? Joined in with a choir? Wandered into the bowels of a listed building? Smelt flowers in a secret garden? Had a Halloween surprise?

You can do all this and more at South Norwood’s ever-popular arts festival (SNAF), organised by local community action group, People for Portland Road, returning this year in the autumn, from Saturday 24th October to Saturday 7th November. This is the eighth year of the long-running arts festival, to be held at venues throughout South Norwood – everywhere from a tiny garden to the magnificent listed Victorian Stanley Halls, now under local community management.

What they have in common is that they are all within walking distance from home for the lucky people of South Norwood. Residents from other parts of Croydon are more than welcome to attend, of course.

Films to fall in love with, films to break your heart

The festival opens this year with a day of festivities to banish the gloom of lengthening days. Stanley Halls will host a grand opening fair, with stalls, food, drink, music, loads of entertainment, a kids’ hall with bouncy castle and ball pool, and an arts and crafts hall. It’s followed in the evening by a party night with a great DJ.

This year sees plenty of festival favourites, like Poets Anonymous with often hilarious verses about everything from football and beer to Life and Death. Local dancers Wild Men Morris will again be shouting and stamping in their flamboyant costumes. The Save the David Lean Cinema campaign will screen a film in association with the British Film Institute’s nationwide Love season, offering ‘films to fall in love with… films to break your heart…’ SNAF also joins forces with Croydon Comedy Festival to present the best of South London’s laugh-makers. Black History Month will be celebrated with a Samuel Coleridge-Taylor event, with musical accompaniment, revealing the fascinating but tragically short life of this celebrated Victorian composer and Croydon resident.

Photo by SNATH, used with permission.

Newcomers this year include the South London Theatre Company, relocating to Stanley Halls while their ex-fire station theatre is refurbished. They present Gogol’s comic masterpiece The Government Inspector, in which the news that a government inspector is heading for a small Russian town sends its bureaucrats into a panicked frenzy. A simple case of mistaken identity exposes the hypocrisy and corruption at the heart of the town in this biting modern satire. Local musicians will present The Beast Within, a very adult programme of songs and verses with an animal theme. Always up for a laugh, especially if there’s plenty of beer, the South Norwood Tourist Board will bring a surprise Halloween event to the festival. Plus there’ll be bands in pubs, classical music, fun for kids of all ages, sport, nature, history and gardens.

The perfect place to do some early Christmas shopping

The festival ends with the craft fair, where all are welcome to browse the stalls, with demonstrations, activities, music and gorgeous food as an accompaniment. Artists and craftspeople will be showing their wonderful creations – paintings, jewellery, prints, quilting, hand-made cards, bags, scarves, books, stained glass ornaments and Christmas decorations. The perfect place to do some early Christmas shopping!

The festival organisers are still putting together the programme, and welcome offers from all kinds of performing artists, potential stallholders and volunteers for organising or helping at events. They can be contacted here. Banners, posters and programmes will appear locally through October.

Heather Hardie

Heather Hardie

Heather Hardie has lived in Croydon for 30 years, and worked in the borough for much of that time. She has been an active member of People for Portland Road from its beginnings in 2005, and part of the SNAF team most years. She is writing on behalf of all those in the community who work hard behind the scenes to make South Norwood a great place to be.

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  • Anne Giles

    Wild Men Morris do not exist, actually. The local Morris teams here are either Northwood Morris or Wild Hunt Morris. The latter are dancing at Stanley Halls in South Norwood on October 24th, time to be advised.