By Rod Webb

Crowds of around 10,000 are expected at the 14th annual St Leonards Festival this Saturday 29 June. The festival, starting at noon and finishing at 10 pm, centres on Warrior Square Gardens with community stalls, storytelling, food, activities and live entertainment. There’s also a street market on Kings Road.

The festival will kick off with a welcome from Hastings Mayor, Nigel Sinden, and Council Leader, Peter Chowney: a live Zumba session then really gets the crowd warmed up. There then follow performances from Buzz Performing Arts, Silver Swans, Enoch the Partyman, Gizmo Kids, Oksana and the Midnight Cats, the Boathouse Signing Choir and the Bangladeshi Community. A ‘Colours of St Leonards’ parade along the seafront at 3pm includes local drumming and community groups. It culminates in a drumming circle in Warrior Square. 

The festival headline band, Kissmet, a Bhangra-rock fusion, round off the afternoon entertainment at 5 pm. The band – supported by Eat Global – is playing St Leonards Festival on their way to perform at Glastonbury later the same day. 

“Kissmet are an amazing band,” says Mandy Curtis of local events company, 18 Hours, the festival organisers. “Their infectious energy, gusto and sheer talent have audiences bouncing around with huge smiles on their faces.”

Live storytelling takes place throughout the afternoon in the children’s Storytelling Marquee, sponsored by Hastings Storytelling Festival. Performers include Spud & Yam (Irish/Caribbean storytelling), Richard Storybeard and Anusha Subramanium.

At 4 pm opera singer Thomasin Trezise takes to the stage, before Kissmet’s headline session. Following a short break, it’s time for new young talent to shine, with Incubate musicians from Eggtooth, including Commercial Edge Dance, Elisha Edwards, Purely Grey and Benva Doll.

As the sun begins to set around 9.15pm, Warrior Gardens become the magical setting for Ghost Caribou by Thingumajig Theatre. Giant illuminated Caribou puppets will be welcomed to the gardens by a specially commissioned score composed by Juliet Russell and performed by singers from the Vocal Explosion Massive.

A light show in Bottle Alley brings the day to an end at 10.15pm.

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