• The Lonely Arts Club is coming to the Watergate Street Gallery on Saturday 12th March. A regular meet-up opportunity for creatives in Chester, the club offers a chance to hear from artists about their practice and learn more about contemporary arts programming in the city and how you can get involved. The free event starts at 5pm at the gallery. Chester musician and producer Luke Moore will be chatting to photographer Casey Orr and Tim Foxon, Chester visual artist.
  • Chester Male Voice Choir, founded 80 years ago as The Cestrian Male Voice Choir recently announced that Matt Baker BEM has accepted an invitation to be its new President. Matt succeeds Her Grace The Duchess of Westminster in the role.  Well known for his work with local community groups and choirs in Chester, Matt has composed for many theatre productions around the UK, including several cycles of the Chester Mystery Plays, and Chester City Passion. He is artistic director for Theatre in the Quarter, musical director for the women’s choir A Handbag of Harmonies, Chester’s LGBTQ choir Proud Marys and is director of music at the University of Chester.   Matt’s work as musical director with young people has taken him to all corners of the world including Australia, India, Malaysia and Germany. During the pandemic, his work with the International Schools Theatre Association involved creating film and music with students from all across the globe. Matt and his neighbours created a lockdown ‘musical’ to celebrate the 75th anniversary of V.E. Day. Entitled We’ll Meet Again, the film was viewed over 400,000 times and was featured on television both nationally and across the world in May 2020. Matt’s dedication was recognised in The Queen’s Birthday Honours list in 2021, with the award of a British Empire Medal (BEM) for his services to music and communities in Chester and beyond.  Speaking about Matt taking on the role of President, choir Chairman John Walsh said “We are delighted to announce that Matt has accepted our invitation to succeed the Duchess of Westminster as President of the choir. Matt is a great friend of the choir and will be a brilliant ambassador for us. We couldn’t be more pleased. The Duchess of Westminster retired as President at the end of 2021 after giving unstinting support over many years and we are immensely proud of her association. We wish her the very best in her retirement and look forward with excitement to a new era with Matt” Speaking about the Choir’s invitation, Matt Said ” I am honoured to have been asked to be president of the tour de force that is Chester Male Voice Choir. I recently took a group of teenagers to interview the men for a project. Seeing how blown away the teenagers were at the choir’s singing reminded me why they have been so well loved through the years, and assured me that this is a choir which ought to have a bright future. If I can do anything to direct audiences to hear this choir, and encourage new members to join, then I feel I will be playing my role.” Chester Male Voice Choir will be joining forces with A Handbag of Harmonies for “Bow Ties and Boas”, a concert which celebrates both choirs clocking up an impressive 100 years of music making between them. The concert, postponed for two years as a result of the pandemic finally takes place at St Columba’s Church in Plas Newton, Chester on Friday 8th April at 7.30pm. Full details of the concert can be found at www.chestermalevoice.com 
  • The three-day music, food and lifestyle festival Deva Fest will take place from 12-14 August 2022 and organisers have revealed that Chester festival fans are rushing to snap up tickets for the event with over 60% of tickets sold. Festivalgoers can expect a brilliant boutique experience with a host of attractions and services included in the ticket price as part of the festival’s Deva Fest Difference – including free fairground rides, free parking and a daily £1 shuttle bus to and from the Chester Lakes site from as far afield as Wrexham and Ellesmere Port. New additions made to what is the biggest and best line-up of events and activities yet include a special Mermaid Cove attraction which will boast amazing aquatic acrobatics from mermaids and mermen in a 10-metre-long tank – Europe’s largest. There will be bubble discos and meet-and-greets, while the mermaids will take on Deva Fest’s dastardly swashbucklers on Pirate Saturday in what promises to be a real battle royal between land and sea. Meanwhile singer-songwriter and pop-rap princess Betty Boo is the latest music star to join the Deva Fest family, appearing as part of a stellar all-female Saturday big stage line-up that also includes headliners Sophie Ellis-Bextor and Heather Small, along with Shola Ama and Belle Voci. The starry line-up on other days of the festival weekend features Scouting for Girls, Dodgy, Symphonic Ibiza and Sonique. They will play on the main stage, which is located inside a big top, meaning the music will go on whatever the weather, while a second, open-air, stage will host a mixture of up-and-coming bands, DJs and local talent. Deva Fest Managing Partner Phil Marston said: “We’re really proud to have brought together such a huge range of stars and attractions for 2022 – and to include so many activities and festival facilities in the ticket price. This is what we call the Deva Fest Difference and we’ve worked hard to build the event with the comfort and happiness of our festivalgoers in mind. The music line-up is incredibly strong, as is the whole breadth of the festival offer from the hand-picked, high-quality food and drink on site – including the hugely-popular Gin and Prosecco Festival – to the Deva Laughs comedy tent, Pirate Day, and now the addition of the fantastic Mermaid Cove too. With a wide range of new camping options too, we’re confident festivalgoers are going to have a fantastic weekend in August.” For more information/tickets visit www.devafest.co.uk
  • The BOOZEGRASS 2022 festival comes to Alexander’s Live on Saturday 30th Aprl 1-10pm with ” cider, bangers ‘n’ beer & the finest folk music” from Mikey Kenney & Stuart Graham / Taf Rapids Stringband / Katie Spencer / Wet The Tea / Henry Parker / Jon Coley / Loris and the Lion / Muireann / Fern Mitchell Raise another glass ‘cause Boozegrass is back! On Saturday 30th April we once again play host to some of the best acoustic acts on the touring circuit. Multi-instrumentalist extraordinaire and Band of Burns member Mikey Kenney and bouzouki ace Stuart Graham headline, with Darren Eedens’ toe-tappin’ Taf Rapids Stringband starring as our penultimate act. We’re also delighted to be joined by three of the UK’s finest singer/songwriters: Henry Parker, Jon Coley & Katie Spencer, with the sensational Spencer performing a week before the release of her sophomore album ‘The Edge of the Land’. Andy Connally’s Irish trad outfit Wet The Tea, gentle fabulists Loris and the Lion, Seafoam Green’s very own Muireann and the talented Fern Mitchell complete this year’s family-friendly bill. As always an array of locally sourced cider & ale and mouth-watering BBQ will be available out on the festival green.  £6 adv // £8 otd // www.alexanderslive.com
  • Cheshire West and Chester Council will offer open support groups for women affected by domestic abuse from Monday, 7 March. The groups will provide somewhere for women affected by domestic abuse to go, so that they can seek advice, interact with others, share experiences and allow their voice to be heard. The sessions will offer a safe environment where women can also enjoy refreshments and social sessions such as arts and crafts, beauty and wellness. Groups will meet at venues in Chester, Winsford and Ellesmere Port and will be supported by qualified IDVA’s (Independent Domestic Violence Advocate) who will be able to offer confidential advice and support to women relating to a range of subjects surrounding domestic abuse. The sessions don’t require a formal referral, women who are affected by domestic abuse can drop into any session at any time during the two-hour timeframe. Councillor Robert Cernik, Cabinet Member for Children and Families said: “The Council want to provide community-based support services to those who are affected by domestic abuse, building on the support already available from the service to help achieve the Council’s vision for all residents to live lives free from domestic abuse. Our new open access groups will give people somewhere safe where they can have confidential discussions about their experiences and get the support that they need. We want west Cheshire to be a place where domestic abuse is spoken about openly and residents who are harmed are supported. If you have experienced domestic abuse, or know someone who might be experiencing it, please attend one of our open sessions. Domestic abuse doesn’t have to stay behind closed doors.” For more information, or to view the timetable for the open sessions, please visit: Domestic Abuse Open Access Groups For men who have experienced domestic abuse, open access groups are currently available each third Monday of every month at Whitley village hall, Warrington WA4 4EJ, 6pm – 8pm. Additional male group dates will be advertised soon.   Help and advice / self-support services can be accessed at: openthedoorcheshire.org.uk or call 0300 123 7047, option 2. Always ring 999 in an emergency.
  • Coming to Chester Little Theatre for one night only, Sat 12th March is Bette and Joan by Anton Burge. They had been Hollywood stars but are in danger of becoming has-beens. Bette Davis and Joan Crawford now have an opportunity to appear together in a new film, “What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?”  But how will the arch-rivals get on? Let the battle commence! Anton Burge’s play about the feuding actors is both funny and poignant. It’s easy to laugh at the hurled insults and cruel put-downs. But both women’s steely exteriors and thick makeup hide troubling cracks.  The silver-screen icons have more in common than may first appear It’s the start of the 1960s and the cult psychological horror film, “What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?”, is in production. The play takes place in Bette and Joan’s adjoining dressing rooms at The Producers Studio on Melrose Avenue in Hollywood.   This production is by regular visitors to the Little Theatre, the award-winning theatre company White Cobra.  It stars Victoria Miles as Bette (Glorious, Duets, Stepping Out the Musical) and Kate Billingham as Joan (September in the Rain, Glorious). Tickets are on sale now https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/chestertheatreclub
  • Great British Bake Off Finalist Laura Adlington has been announced as the latest celebrity addition to the Chef Demo stage line up at this year’s Taste Cheshire Food and Drink festival. The festival, now in its 21st year at Chester Racecourse has always attracted a range of celebrity and local chefs demonstrating their skills and is a hugely popular part of the Annual Easter event.  Laura Adlington was a finalist on the Great British Bake Off in 2020. Since then she’s been on a self-proclaimed mission to share not only her love of baking, but also her passion for body confidence at any size and plus size fashion. Tori Hayes from Taste Cheshire says, “As a mum, baking was a huge part of lockdown life and the Great British Bake Off is a firm favourite in our house. Taste Cheshire are thrilled that Laura is joining us, not just because she’s a fantastic baker but also because her sunny outlook and positivity was so evident in the show. After the last couple of years, we could all do with that kind of positive energy.”. Laura will be on the Chef demo stage on Sunday 17th April following the return of the famous Taste Cheshire Sausage Competition and alongside a host of top tier local chefs. Joining Laura in the line-up is Chef Stuart Collins, regional heat winner in last year’s Great British Menu, local food hero and Chef owner of Docket No. 33 in Whitchurch.  Also returning to this year’s festival are Lisa and Rupert from All About Greens, the UK’s first online Plant-Based Food Foundation Course for aspiring and professional chefs. Lisa and Rupert will once again be demonstrating delicious and easy to make plant based dishes which will impress and perhaps change a few minds about the practicalities of plant based cookery.  Rupert Worden explains, “There’s no doubt that the interest in plant-based cooking has grown massively over the past few years and this increase in popularity has changed the way in which restaurants and chefs approach their menus. All About Greens are supporting both aspiring and fully established chefs, with courses aimed to help navigate the new environment and become competent, confident and inspired when cooking plant-based food.” The Sunday line up at the festival also features Danny Cronin, from the incredible kitchen team at Restaurant 1539. Dan is a newcomer to the stage and brings with him 10 years of experience alongside some great chefs and at some great restaurants including Boutique Hotels & the Abode Brasserie. chesterfoodanddrink.co.uk
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