Kaleidoscope festival returns in July

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Neurodiversity and the talents of Chester people living with a learning disability will be celebrated when Storyhouse’s Kaleidoscope Festival returns for the first time in three years. 

The week-long festival, which takes place from 11-18 July, celebrates neurodiversity, inclusion and unique abilities and will include a rich and varied programme of events and activities including performances, flashmobs, quizzes, film premieres and music. 

The festival opens with a bang on Monday, 11 July when the second Chester Disability Pride Parade fills the city centre with a blaze of brilliant sound and colour. 

Hundreds of people are expected to be involved in the parade – one of only two in the UK alongside Brighton – which aims to raise awareness of the 14.1 million people living with a disability. 

The parade route starts at Eastgate and makes its way to Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre where there will be a chance to mingle, eat, drink and relax.  

Participants are also invited to watch Dark Horse Theatre from Huddersfield – an ensemble of 8 exceptional actors with learning disabilities and non – learning disabled actors. 

Kaleidoscope continues on Tuesday, 12 July when Storyhouse’s Garret Theatre is the venue for a 60-minute Sing Along Songs from Stage and Screen

Expect a line-up of classic tunes and new favourites from shows including Fame, Dirty Dancing, We Will Rock You and The Greatest Showman. Props will be on hand and fancy dress is encouraged. 

It is followed by Merseyside disability theatre company RAWD’s FLASHMOB in a bob! If you are aged 14 and over and identify as disabled, join the RAWD gang to learn a Greatest Showman-themed routine and then take over the Storyhouse Kitchen as part of a fun-filled flashmob at 2.30pm. 

The Big RAWD Quiz takes place in the atrium area of Storyhouse on the evening of 12 July. Competitors can enjoy an exciting series of rounds which are likely to include sports charades and singalongs along with the unexpected! The event will be captioned and BSL interpreted. RAWD also takes centre stage – or rather screen when the premiere of its new documentary film RAWD Talkis held at the Hunter Street building. It tells the story of how the pandemic affected the company’s work and the fearless creative flow that emerged from difficult circumstances. 

On Wednesday 13 July  will also see a pop-up Kaleidoscope Makers Market for people to sell their fantastic and creative hand-made items including the makers from VIVO Diversity Designs based in the Forum in Chester plus more.  

Meanwhile a series of short films all made by people living with a learning disability, autism or Aspergers will be screened in the Storyhouse Cinema. All the shorts have been chosen by film fans who similarly live with a learning disability and have been working with the International Oska Bright Film Festival to hone their film programming skills.  

The Stage is Yours on Thursday, 14 July when dance, drama and music performances will be shared in the Garret Theatre. 

Friday, 15 July is Kaleidoscope Club Night which will launch a new monthly event in the Garret Theatre. DJs will be on hand to play all those favourite tunes while there will also be 50 pairs of Silent Disco headsets for people who prefer to curate their own music to dance to. 

The night will also include places to chill out, tables and chairs for a breather from dancing, and the bar will be open for alcoholic and soft drinks and snacks. 

Storyhouse’s restaurant The Kitchen is the venue for MiniFest on Sunday, 17 July, filling the space with music and dance. The event features youngsters from Space Cheshire who will perform together with their teachers from House of Dance, and an unmissable hour-long set of original songs from the Artful Playground Band.  

Finally on Monday, 18 July, there’s a chance to get glammed up and hit the red carpet for the Kaleidoscope Awards and Festival Film Premiere. Enjoy a cheeky mocktail and complimentary canapes and bring Kaleidoscope 2022 to a rousing end by performing the special festival Makaton song. 

All events during the Kaleidoscope Festival week are free with a Festival Pass, but some have limited capacity and also need pre-booking. You can book festival passes for your group by emailing  alex.atkinson@storyhouse.com or purchase online at storyhouse.com 

Storyhouse communities manager Nicola Haigh said: “The Kaleidoscope Festival was a huge success when we last held it in 2019. 

“It’s planned to be an annual event, but sadly the Covid pandemic has meant we’ve to postpone it. I’m absolutely thrilled that the festival is able to return for this summer promising a truly kaleidoscopic range of fantastic events to appeal to a wide range of audiences. 

“And what better way to launch the festival than with our second Chester Disability Pride Parade? Chester is one of only a handful of places across the world that celebrates Disability Pride in this way. I’m really proud the city is leading from the front – it should be an amazing and memorable day.” 

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