Sophie Ellis Bextor to headline new Chichester festival

Sophie Ellis Bextor will close the Priory Park Festival on the Sunday

Sophie Ellis Bextor will close the Priory Park Festival on the Sunday

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Sophie Ellis Bextor, Paul Jones and The Manfreds, Seth Lakeman, Sussex band The Feeling and Courtney Pine will be among the stars for a major new event at the heart of this year’s Festival of Chichester.

Martin Simpson and Zoë Rahman will also be playing at the Priory Park Festival – a festival within the festival – which will run from Friday, July 8 to Sunday, July 10.

The Manfreds

The Manfreds

Film and television producer and director Robin Bextor –and father of Sophie – is delighted at the programme he has brought together. There will be at least 24 musical acts, using a marquee and the Guildhall, plus artisan food and poetry.

Robin, who will be expecting around 2,000 people to be present at any one time, is pledging to work closely with residents to ensure the event will be a huge success this year and in years to come.

“We will be very careful to set up during the day. We will make sure that we finish on time and that people leave quietly and respect the place that this is such a fantastic location while remembering there is a lot of housing there.

“We want to make this an annual event, and we will be doing everything very carefully to make sure that anyone who doesn’t come on board this year will be wanting to come on board next year and perhaps also feed in about what they want to see in future years.

Courtney and Zoe

Courtney and Zoe

“I started to take an interest in the Festival of Chichester and looking at how many interesting things were happening, I realised it did not have an outside music event.

“People are bound to call this a music festival, but I would like it to reflect the arts festival as a whole, as well as being quite eclectic, to try to make it a really family-orientated thing, to get younger people in. It is going to be somewhere between a really nice village fete and a recital.”

Robin is also in negotiations to offer it as a fund-raising opportunity for a couple of local charities.

“Sophie (on the Sunday) was obviously straightforward for the festival, and we have also got The Feeling (on the Saturday). Two of them went to the Brit School and before that lived in Forest Row. Three of them come from Horsham way.

“And then we have got some people that have been to Chichester before in different forms, We have got Seth Lakeman on the Friday night, and we have also got Martin Simpson, who I absolutely love. I know him because I did his DVD and made a film with him. He is very pleased to be coming back. We have also got a Jamaican mixed race girl Lunir (on the Friday). She has got Caribbean ancestry but is currently in Newcastle doing a music degree. If she doesn’t become famous and very successful, it will be the fault of the music industry.

“On the Saturday, we have also got multi-instrumentalist Charlotte Glasson, and hopefully she will have Herbie Flowers with her. And we have got her father the following day (with anarchic comedy from the Bonzos).

“Paul Jones and The Manfreds (Sunday) will be doing their greatest hits, and Sophie will also be on the Sunday afternoon. She has just finished a new album. It has not been played anywhere. She will be doing some songs from it and also a greatest hits set, Groovejet, Murder On The Dance, Floor Take Me Home…

“Sophie will finish the festival and then there will be a little pause with some nice music still going on in the Guildhall, and then it becomes an evening recital with seating put in, when we will have Courtney Pine and Zoë Rahman.”

Tickets will be on sale before Easter through chichesterlive.co.uk.

Robin said he hoped people would go for the weekend pass: “It would be great for people to feel they can dip in and out without having to watch everything.”

The full programme for the Festival of Chichester will be announced in April.

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