Darlington Arts Festival 2019 includes a selection of free events – from the annual dance festival, to artwork by Darlington Mind Art, Creative Crafts Group on display at the Town Hall, exhibition of vintage posters at The Hippodrome, The Unseen Beautiful exhibition at Crown Street Gallery, creative play at The Hullabaloo’s Enchanted Forest, plus pop-up events providing a showcase for artists and musicians.

The Dance Festival 2019 kicks off on Saturday 18 May in Joseph Pease Place with performances throughout the day by local dance schools. This will be followed, weather permitting, at 3.30pm by drumming group Tambours d’Afrique demonstrating the amazing sounds of multi-part West African rhythms with their collection of Djembe drums. There will also be a demonstration by Harlequin Morris group in Blackwellgate.

And at 1pm on Sunday 19 May, dance schools and community groups join together to perform one mass dance in the Market Square with the theme ‘This is me’ challenging inequality.

A couple of free talks are scheduled, with winner of the Dover Prize 2019 – artist Bethan Maddocks – discussing her work at Crown Street Gallery on Saturday 18 May from 1.30pm-2.30pm. Also on Saturday 18 May, starting at 4.30pm, Chris Lloyd of The Northern Echo will lead a guided walk around the heart of Darlington, looking at the history of art and artists in the town.

This year, there are pop-up events for performance and visual arts at the Market Hall and Cornmill Shopping Centre. At the Market Hall ‘Spotlight on…’ performance space on Saturday 18 May, you can find out more about local groups, with performances by a string quartet from Darlington Orchestra, The Majestic Theatre, and musicians from The Forum Music Centre.

Local artists will be exhibiting in the Cornmill Shopping Centre’s main atrium for three of the festival days, during the centre’s usual opening hours. On Friday 17 and Sunday 19 May, you can see work by Darlington Society of Arts; and on Saturday 18 May, exhibitors are Lucas Roy and Pam Bassington.

You can also visit the Darlington for Culture (DfC ) information stand to find out more about the organisation, which co-ordinates the annual arts festival, and discover more about local arts and culture.

Darlington Arts Festival Co-ordinator Helen Devonshire said: “The pop-up spaces are a bonus for the festival this year and provide a great showcase opportunity for local groups. DfC is grateful to the Cornmill Centre and Market Hall for providing spaces where artists and musicians can highlight some of the fantastic activities available in Darlington.’

Also at the Cornmill Centre, Waterstones will host ‘meet the author’ with Stan L. Abbott on Monday 20 May 12.30pm-1.30pm. At this free event, Stan L Abbott will chat about his novel ‘The Episode’, which is a fictionalised account of one man’s descent into a surreal world he creates as he tumbles into a ‘manic episode’.

Another free event is with writing group Bennet House Writers, which meets on Monday mornings, as it is opening its doors to newcomers to attend for free during Darlington Arts Festival. The group welcomes writers of all ages and abilities.

  • The festival’s paid-for events include children’s theatre, a piano recital and a jazz event, tribute bands, the film ‘Florence Foster Jenkins’, children’s theatre, a lecture presented by The Arts Society North Yorkshire & South Durham, ‘Belly Giggles’ comedy workshop for ages 7+, and a fantastic range of workshops and talks in the writers’ festival for new and established authors. Booking required for some of these activities, please see the printed programme or visit DfC website (darlingtonforculture.org/darlington-arts-festival-2019) for details.