Bingo for real and online with Dawn at the Festival of Chichester

Chichester’s very own vintage entertainer Dawn Gracie will straddle the real and the virtual worlds with two bingo events for this year’s Festival of Chichester.

Wednesday, 9th June 2021, 8:05 am
Dawn Gracie
Dawn Gracie

On June 15 she will be offering online retro bingo – and then on July 9 the bingo will be happening for real at Oaklands Pavilion (home of Chichester Rugby Football Club).

Dawn has never missed a Festival of Chichester so far. Well, apart from one year when her event fell just outside the festival dates.

“And I am delighted to be part of it all once again this year.

“If anything positive has come out of this pandemic, it has shown that online events can really have a place in our lives.

“And I am wanting to show that this year by giving both options.

“I have done online bingo before, and it is great to think that through going online with one of my events, I can get an audience for the Festival of Chichester from around the world.

“I also wanted to celebrate the fact that we can do both and give a little taste of online because there are still people that don’t want to go out which I totally understand and respect.

“For the online version, it is on Zoom and everyone is required to have their camera on. I email them the bingo card beforehand. It can be printed off or just looked at on your device.

“People then tune in. I will be able to see everyone and to make sure that everyone feels part of the fun.

“I am there with my fancy camera and my bingo cage (with the numbered balls in).

“People at home on their sofas can then just mark off the numbers.

“I keep everyone on mute and then when you get a line, you just shake something.

“I then unmute them and we call back the numbers.”

But the bingo is just part of it. Dawn will be singing songs, setting fun challenges and making sure everyone is involved through a range of interactive games.

“It is going to be family friendly, classically comical and highly entertaining”, she promises.

As Dawn says, it will all add up to a two-hour Zoom kitsch-fest full of cheesy retro songs, a themed quiz plus two full games of bingo.

She promises the prizes will be “ridiculous(ly useful!)” and will be sent via the post – anything from rubber gloves to retro sweets.

“It’s a full-on game show and just a whole heap of fun. And as a following, we are gathering people that are tuning in from America and from The Netherlands.”

And then a couple of weeks later, it will happen for real at Oaklands Pavilion.

This grown-ups only event has the option of basket food provided by Bob’s Diner (orders taken pre-event). Dressing up encouraged but not essential.

Anything goes, but the only reason it is over-18s only is because of the element of gambling it contains, Dawn says.

“I did a couple of bingo events last year just before the third lockdown which seems so long ago, and the venue is really good, really spacious with a really spacious bar.”

You can book in tables; equally you can book as individuals.

As Dawn says, exactly how it will all pan out on the night in terms of numbers and distancing is a guessing game at the moment.

But she will very carefully adhere to whatever guidance is in place when the time comes.

“I am very confident about going back, but I completely respect those that are more nervous.

“It is a tricky situation, but I think people should book now and I will make sure that we adapt to any changes that we have to take on board.”

Safety comes first.

“I will make the night happen as best we can.”

Full details of the Festival of Chichester line-up and tickets are available on