The Good Life Experience – 16th, 17th and 18th September 2016 – #chesterculture

tgle-2015-photos-nenad-obradovic-IMG_2085The Good Life Experience presents an impressive and eclectic line-up for the three day festival –now in its third year- from 16th to 18th September 2016 on the Hawarden Estate in Flintshire.

The music and poetry programme is entirely hand-picked by co-founders singer, author and broadcaster Cerys Matthews and music manager Steve Abbot.

Festival goers can look forward to a mix of the very best music with everything from DJ Gilles Peterson, Canadians Gordie Mackeeman + His Rhythm Boys to Saturday night headliners Romanian Gypsy band Fanfare Ciocarlia – which Cerys has described as her favourite live performance of all time – poets John Cooper Clarke + Mike Garry (with his band), The Booka Brass Band from Dublin, Mari Samuelsen + The 12 Ensemble’s performance of Max Richter’s Vivaldi Recomposed, a DJ set from Mercury Rev, Cerys herself performing and much more.

On top of the music, there are some wonderful speakers lined up, including adventurer Ben Fogle, broadcaster Jeremy Vine and multi-award winning author Michael Morpurgo.

There will be an exciting array of world class chefs, all of whom have been challenged to cook over the campfire, from Bill Granger, to Thomasina Miers, Valentine Warner, Welsh barbecuers Hang Fire Smokehouse, Fabulous Baker Tom Herbert, Petersham Nurseries’ Head Chef Damian Clisby, Anna Jones, forager Roger Phillips and many more.

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As founders of homewares brand Pedlars, the Hawarden Estate Farm Shop and award-winning pub The Glynne Arms, co-founders Charlie and Caroline Gladstone know something about hosting a brilliant party. Together with, Cerys and Steve they have created an atmosphere of warmth and inclusion for all ages.

Join the party this year for a weekend celebrating family, friends, dogs, music, talks, adventure, workshops, good food and good drink and The Great Outdoors.

There will be around 40 workshops with traditional craftspeople for all ages, from spoon carving to paddle making, henna art, blacksmithing, axe workshops and more. Almost all these workshops and other activities are free, including axe throwing, archery, tree climbing, tai chi and abseiling to name just a few.

And last but not least there is a wonderful 1930s Vintage Fairground, where all rides are free, running all weekend.

The Good Life Experience
16th, 17th and 18th September 2016
Hawarden Estate
To buy tickets click here
Adults: £69 Non-camping, £99 Camping
12-17 years: £34.50 Non-camping. £64.50 Camping
Under 11s: Free
More information at


#chesterculture – Gladfest – Gladstone’s Library – Friday 2nd, Saturday 3rd and Sunday 4th September 2016.

The UK’s friendliest literary festival returns Gladfest returns with another programme of the best and brightest writing talents, from old friends returning with their latest books to new-to-Gladfest stars.

The three day literary celebration, held at the UK’s only Prime Ministerial Library in Hawarden, will be welcoming high profile and internationally renowned writers, novelists, poets and academics for its annual festival Gladfest from Friday 2nd September to Sunday 4th September 2016.  Now into its fourth year, Gladfest is back and it’s better than ever.

loyd-grossman_239116kHighlights include Val McDermid (Splinter the Silence) discussing what compels us to consume crime fiction; Scarlett Thomas (The Seed Collectors) who explores her complex relationship with realism and fantasy; Loyd Grossman (Benjamin West and the Struggle to be Modern) on the Georgian craze for history as expressed in books, prints and paintings; Guy Cuthbertson’s perspective on Wilfred Owen and the WWI poets and Richard Holloway (A Little History of Religion) who muses on religious experiences and expressions.


Michel Faber and Sarah Perry will make a welcome return with their latest books, Undying and The Essex Serpent after sell-out slots at last year’s festival.

Further highlights include Sir Anthony Seldon (Cameron at 10: The Inside Story) on contemporary politics and education; Rachel Holmes who delves into the radical lives of Eleanor Marx and Sylvia Pankhurst; Andrew Tate exploring the ruined futures of dystopian fiction; Ian Parks who considers the poetry of C.P. Cavafy and Peter Blair charting the meteoric rise of contemporary flash fiction.


If you’re a little more hands-on, there will be workshops throughout the weekend sharpening manuscripts with Francesca Haig (The Fire Sermon), prioritising workload with Michael Nobbs (Drawing Your Life), using the imagination as a literary device with Peter Moore (The Weather Experiment) and creating comics with Simon Grennan (Dispossession).

fantastic20mr20fox201_1For younger Gladfesters, there’s an expanded programme of Young People’s Events and a series of interactive activities inspired by the books of Roald Dahl who would have celebrated his 100th birthday this year. Young people can explore the poetry of Revolting Rhymes, the characters of Fantastic Mr Fox, the language of The BFG and create prints to take home inspired by Dahl’s marvellous animals and creature creations.

Plus there’s the all-new Gladfest market place filled with the best local designers and contemporary crafts, the Gladbooks bookstall stocking reads from festival speakers (plus the opportunity to get them signed), the Food for Thought servery open throughout the day for delicious homemade hot and cold food, and the Gladbar ready and waiting to serve up festival tipples.

As one of the UK’s only festivals with no green room and no backstage area, you never know who you’ll bump into. Mingle with like-minded festival-goers, share a fireside drink with the authors and really make the most of Gladfest 2016.

For the full lineup click here,
Click here to view the official Gladfest 2016 programme

Friday 2nd September to Sunday 4th September 2016. gladfest20201620speakers
Weekend Tickets: £55
Day Tickets: £30 and Workshop Day Tickets: £40.
Individual event tickets are priced from £7.
For more information call Gladstone’s Reception on 01244 532350 or email

General release opens at 9am on Wednesday 18th May.

Friends priority booking opens at 9am on Wednesday 4th May.
Friends may book tickets for themselves and up to two guests.

Sign up as a Friend for pre-release tickets, exclusive Gladfest accommodation and a host of other benefits.


#chesterculture – Chester Folk Festival 2016 – Friday 27th, Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th May 2016

It’s almost time for Chester Folk Festival 2016 and once again the organisers will be putting on a celebration of all that’s best in traditional and acoustic music. Running from 27th to 30th May.

A small, friendly, family festival that takes place in the village of Kelsall. It mixes showcase concerts, featuring some of the biggest names around, with more informal events such as ceilidhs, dance displays, sessions, workshops, a craft fair and a full programme of children’s entertainment, including things like circus skills and Punch & Judy, provided by Panic Circus.

This year’s stellar guest list has breadth and depth aplenty. Multiple BBC Radio 2 Folk Award winners Nancy Kerr & James Fagan and legendary duo Richard & Jess Arrowsmith (Crucible, Hekety) will be appearing as two separate couples as well as combining to play as the amazing Melrose Quartet. These Sheffield-based friends and neighbours have been capturing imaginations wherever they go with their bold take on old and new English songs and tunes. Glorious four-part harmony singing combines with crunchy twin fiddles, full-bodied melodeon and powerful bouzouki in a set that will leave your heart singing and your feet tapping.

Bringing their brand of gutsy folk rock back to Chester are 2016 Folking Award winners Blackbeard’s Tea Party. Traditional songs and folk tunes are given a heavy rock edge with playful arrangements and driving dance rhythms. This is all mixed up in an engaging, high-octane stage show that frequently leaves audiences cheering for more, so it’s unsurprising they’re one of the most sought-after bands around.

Last year the Wilson Family of five brothers from Teesside celebrated forty years of singing on the folk circuit. Their strong unaccompanied harmony singing of traditional songs and songs of social comment, together with their humour and camaraderie on stage, have attracted innumerable fans over the years, including Sting who asked them to be part of his Last Ship production which premièred on Broadway in 2013. Their appearance at the BBC folk Prom concert with Kathryn Tickell was another highlight, winning them many five star reviews.

This year’s festival will be the fortieth since its inception and to celebrate, organisers have booked a series of returning favourites who have been regular visitors for much of that time. They include the dark brown voice and relaxed singing style of Yorkshireman Dave Burland; the hilarious performances of his own crazy (and clever) poetry of the self-styled professional idiot, the inimitable Les Barker; the glorious singing and gentle Irish humour of Seán Cannon, formerly lead singer with The Dubliners; the masterful playing and singing of Bill Caddick, one of the foremost songwriters on the scene; and the distinctive voice of the multi-talented ‘one man folk industry’ Pete Coe, this time appearing with Alice Jones.

But don’t think the festival is all about the past; there is plenty on offer that is new to Chester. There’s Kelly Oliver who The Times speaks of as ‘an artist who blends traditional values with hints of a bold indie-pop sensibility’; Josienne Clarke & Ben Walker whose performances, laced with ‘misery, mirth and sheer beauty’, helped make them winners of the Best Duo category at the 2015 BBC Folk Awards; folk singer & songwriter Kim Lowings who fronts a collective of musicians called The Greenwood; “one of England’s finest young singers” Gavin Davenport, teamed with the energy, exuberance and emotion of fiddle player Tom Kitching; and banjo player and songwriter Dan Walsh who is described as ‘eclectically inspired and consistently brilliant’.

From further afield the festival will welcome the scintillating Miriam Backhouse-Erasmus. Fondly remembered from when she was a force to be reckoned with on the UK folk scene before her move to live in South Africa, she has continued to impress on her return to performing. BBC Radio 2 producer John Leonard said of her, ‘Miriam’s haunting voice and tasteful instrumental work never fail to impress”. Jeff Warner, from a family of renowned folk song collectors, is a frequent and always welcome visitor from the US. ‘Quite simply, he’s one of the most charismatic, enthusiastic and genuinely versatile performers on the whole scene, with a warm and approachable personality to match his encyclopaedic knowledge of traditional song.’

These are just some of the many delights on offer. In addition there’s a full line up of talented musicians, singers and dancers from around the country including some regular local performers such as Fiddlestone; Full House; Roy Clinging; Graham Bellinger; and The Waite Collective.

And the festival isn’t only about concerts. Once again there will be a daily series of events aimed at the 12 to 20 age group, each one led by Festival guest artists from a similar age range. The Youth Room gives young participants the opportunity to exchange ideas, questions, and experiences, and to create music together; they are encouraged to bring their own instrument and/or voice or just come along to listen. These are non-ticket events, so friends and fellow musicians who aren’t sure about buying full festival tickets can still come along and sample what goes on.

There’s plenty for dancers too with a ceilidh each evening as well as a Saturday afternoon dance aimed at all the family. Some of the top exponents of ceilidh dance music will be taking part, including The Black Box Band, All Blacked Up, Hekety and local heroes The Time Bandits. Experienced callers, like Baz Parkes, Pete Coe, Gordon Potts and Martyn Harvey, will also be on hand to help everyone join in, experts and beginners alike.

With so much going on over the weekend, why not go along and join in the fun?

Day and evening tickets as well as full weekend tickets are available and can be purchased on site by going to the festival office which is located near the Lord Binning pub.

Chester Folk Festival
Friday 27th May to Monday 30th May 2016
Weekend: £75 including camping
All Day Sat or Sun: £29
All Day Mon: £22
Afternoon Only: Sat or Sun £15, Mon £11
Evening Only: Fri £9, Sat or Sun £21, Mon £13
Children 10 – 18: half price
Under 10 years: free
Concessions for students, OAP’s and unwaged:
£5 off weekend tickets, £2 off day tickets, £1 off afternoon or evening tickets
(please bring evidence of eligibility with you to the festival)
Click here to buy tickets


#chesterculture – DemFest – Gladstone’s Library – Friday 13th May and Saturday 14th May 2016.

A brand new festival will be making its debut in Hawarden next month.

The Democracy Festival will be held at Gladstone’s Library, Hawarden on Friday 13th May and Saturday 14th May 2016.

DemFest, run in partnership with The Raymond Williams Foundation and The Democratic Society, is a space to meet people, develop fairer and more participatory forms of politics, and enjoy a range of democracy-related cultural events. demfest

At DemFest you will have a chance to think, get-together and talk with others with similar interests or projects. You won’t just hear a party line, DemFest is non-partisan and independent.

Why now? We are living in tumultuous times. The UK may be on the brink of fracturing and leaving the European Union, power and resources are increasingly concentrated in fewer and fewer hands and the gulf between the UK’s main political parties is rapidly widening.

Meanwhile, myriad possibilities for new forms of democratization are opening up. Whether through experimentation at community level, developments in online technology or the growing public appetite for more collaborative and less hierarchical ways of living, DemFest is about getting together to explore, celebrate and help re-make democracy for our times.

An affordable festival (prices range from free to £6) aiming to engage and provide a forum for discussion for those of all ages and backgrounds; but you won’t hear a party line; DemFest is non-partisan, independent, and not-for-profit.

Guests include Natalie Bennett, Leader of the Green Party; Peter McFadyen, author of Flatpack Democracy and Robin McApline from Common Weal, a ‘think and do tank’ campaigning for social and economic equality in Scotland.

Confirmed events include Women and Protest, exploring women’s particular history of protest, objection and defiance from Suffrage to SlutWalks; Futures of European Democracy, considering the future of the UK in Europe; State of Emergency: War, Terror and Democracy, defining the responsibilities of ‘democratic’ states in the contexts of migration, asylum and war; and Democratization and the Media, asking what needs to happen to ensure our media is democratic.

There are also a number of free audio and video playback sessions from past events at Gladstone’s Library, including talks from ex-Director of Liberty Shami Chakrabarti, crossbench Peer, Lord Peter Hennessey, and the Library’s Founder’s Day discussion, hosted by Lloyd Grossman.

For more information and to book online visit  man-dual

Gladstone’s Library
Friday 13th May and Saturday 14th May.
Tickets are priced between free and £6 with a £2 Concessions rate.
Day Tickets are priced at £45 (including 10 events) or £15 for Concessions.
Alternatively, contact Gladstone’s Library on 01244 532350 or

#chesterculture – The Gathering 2016 – Sunday 1st May 2016

Spring is coming and music is in the air and thoughts turn to the coming festival season!

The Gathering 2016 is Chester’s very own music and arts festival here found every May Day bank holiday weekend at Alexander’s: Amazing bands and acoustic performers, DJ’s, street artists, stalls and poets: all the stuff you would find at a festival but in the middle of Chester, so don’t miss it!

“The Gathering has simply become one of the best small independent festivals in the northwest and the Gathering 2016 is going to be everything you would expect from a festival but right here in the middle of Chester!” – Northern Shout

Main Stage Line Up:

Broken 3 Ways
Green Room
The Stops
The Instinctive
Dead Pixels
Kindest of Thieves
Jonathan Coley
Ollie Gosling

12973314_10154911626837715_6914465656251199534_oat The Gathering 

Indoor Acoustic Stage
12.00 – Flipside DJ’s
2.00 – Ginger Poetry, Flash Fiction & Dance –
Cal Buckley / Edward Little / Chris Mapp / Rhys Jones / Joshua Cialis
David Subacchii / Nala Rollo / Lucy Jones / Tom Sraz / Emma Apple
4.00 – Peter Douglas
4.30 – Ross Buckley
5.00 – Joseph Leo
5.30 – Bean
6.00 – Special Guest
6.30 – Texas Banjo Massacre


Flipside DJ’s in the The Pop-Up Club
7.00 – Ole Smokey
8.00 – Chris Sutton
9.00 – Daniel Schott
10.00 – Eddie Shields

The Draw Inn at The Gathering: (Street artists and Painting Wall)



Plus Stalls, BBQ, outdoor bar and much, much more.

The Gathering
Sunday 1st May 2016
Midday Onwards
Pay on the door
 18+ – £6.00, 17 to 13yrs – £4.50, 12 to 8yrs – £2.50, Under 7 years free
2 adults and 2 people under 18: £15



#chesterculture – Hoole Quarter May Day Festival – Sunday 1st May 2016

Things are happening in Hoole!

Hoole is about to host its first May Day Street Festival courtesy of the community fundraising team Notting Hoole. The event is to take place on Sunday May 1st from 11am – 5pm and will take place along Faulkner Street and Charles Street. The festival will feature hot and cold food stalls, local artists, craft stalls, live music, buskers and children’s entertainers.

The Notting Hoole Team are responsible for the Hoole Christmas Lights Switch On, and have also arranged other community events such as the Annual Summer BBQ, The ‘Ellie’s Cup’ Annual Football Tournament & Hoole’s Got Talent. The events are all designed to be all-inclusive Community events, and to raise money for the Hoole Community Centre and the Christmas Lights Switch On.

Founder and Chair of Notting Hoole, Sue Mason, feels that Hoole has been crying out for a Street Festival for a long time:
“When we won £5,000 in November 2015 for being awarded ‘Best Newcomer’ in the Great British High Street Awards, we asked local residents and businesses how they would like the money to be spent. A lot of people asked for a Street Festival with lots of entertainment for adults and kiddies, and that is exactly what we have done!

We’ve talked to local food producers and suppliers and we have lots of exciting stalls selling hot and cold food, plus talented local artists, arts and craft sellers and of course plenty of live music and entertainment for the children. The local business community has really got behind the event too and many of the shops, bars and restaurants will be open on the day.

We are also holding a children’s art competition asking them to produce an A4 piece of art entitled ‘Cool Hoole’.  The competition will be judged by TV Star Ian Puleston-Davies and the winning artwork will be displayed in Art At 41. This is really going to be a fantastic Community event, celebrating everything that is so special about Hoole, and how important it is to support the local economy.”

Twitter: @NottingHoole         
Facebook: Notting Hoole

#chesterculture – Preview: Weaver Words Literature Festival – Wednesday 6th to Sunday 10th April 2016

Weaver Words, Frodsham’s Literature Festival, is back with five days of fantastic talks, events, outings and workshops for you to enjoy, many linked to the festival theme of ‘The Good Life – happiness and well-being’.

Tim Frith, Patron of Weaver Words said: “What better food for the soul than poetry? Our 2016 programme includes performances from Liverpool legend Roger McGough and former Canal Poet Laureate Jo Bell aboard a boat along the River Weaver.

TV historian Dan Cruickshank takes us on a world tour of beautiful buildings, Merseyside footballing giant Neville Southall promises to share his literary goals and actor Gerald Dickens makes a welcome return to present a Victorian evening inspired by his great great grandfather Charles Dickens.”

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The  full programme of events can be found here.

In addition to these events the festival also host a flash fiction competition and a Children’s writing competition, both of which are now closed.

Weaver Words Literature Festival
Wednesday 6th to Sunday 10th April 2016
Various venues in Frodsham
Events vary in price and can be booked here

#ChesterCulture – Forgotten Heroes Beer Fest at Kash

Hello beer culture vultures and real ale explorers!

Beer is culture
Beer is culture
















The Kash Tap Rooms is putting on another beer based extravaganza this Bank Holiday weekend, kicking off 12pm Friday. The theme is ‘Forgotten Heroes’ and will feature those breweries that had their time in the sun only to be usurped by the next newer, shinier, hipper brewery. Expect the usual fireworks and cashmere moments, with thirty plus beers and awesome food.

Here are a few of the beers that have been secured so far.











You can find the growing list here.

Entry is free, and Kash will have the usual sinful burgers, dirty hot dogs and fries to die for.


You are #ChesterCulture

All too often we still hear cries of

“we didn’t know it was happening until after the event”, 

“nothing ever happens in Chester”,

“Chester has no culture”, 

“nobody supports local artists/musicians/creatives/<insert other here>”

We want to change that.

Keep us updated with any events, shows, clubs or societies that you’re involved with in Chester so we can help others find it too.

Artists, musicians, poets, authors, writers, actors, dancers, creatives of any type – we want to hear from you.

Send us links to/pictures/videos of your work either via email or Twitter.

Tell us who you are. Share with us your creative process. Help inspire others.

Let us know what you’re doing.

Show us your creations – whatever they may be.

We want to be friends and build a creative community here in Chester.
We want to support and encourage creativity by all.

You are #ChesterCulture

Find us on Twitter: @ChesterCulture

or search for Chester Culture on Facebook.

Contact us at

Image courtesy of @shitchester 

The Chester Beer Awards -2016

Another amazing community event took place on January 30th at Kash Tap Rooms. Organised and inspired by the creators of The Chester Beer Blog Kat and Tom Knox. The nominees were all chosen by the public via social media and the awards were presented at this ceremony. The event, opened by The Lord Mayor, was filled with representatives from Chester’s local pubs and eateries as well as local patrons and beer lovers. The awards were presented in a fun, casual and imaginative format including loads of laughter and good cheer. The welcoming feeling was encouraged by the hosts and the incredible and hardworking Kash Team as well.
The Chester Beer Blog is another example of community spirit and involvemnet. Local Cestrians who donate so much of their free time to bring the people of this city together and create unity. We salute and congratulate all nominees – winners- and the tireless organisers and volunteers. Pat yourselves on the back — or better yet– grab a pint and say Cheers to all of you!!
The categories and winners:
Best beer shop :Chester Beer and Wine
Best local brewery is: Deva Craft Beer
Best local beer: the legendary Spank
( Blueball Brewery Kash )
Best pub grub:
Bear and billet
Best Bartender : Aki ( Cellar Bar)
Best newcomer:
Common Hall Social
And finally the grand finale –
Best Pub:
Cellar Bar

A special catagory entitled : “outstanding achievement in contribution to the local beer culture and related shenanigans”
was awarded to The Kash Tap Rooms
Photos of The Chester Beer Awards 2016