Great reviews and sell out events for Horsham District’s Year of Culture

As the Horsham District Year of Culture 2019 gets underway, Horsham District Council’s Cabinet Member for Culture and Leisure Cllr Jonathan Chowen is really pleased with the wave of enthusiasm that it has received – the great events being staged and the experiences it is creating.

He shares with us some of the early highlights and what he is particularly looking forward to as the special year unfolds.

We are now one month into our Horsham District Year of Culture 2019 celebrations and I am delighted at the response we are getting from members of the public and the organisations taking part.

Many events and activities are selling out already so I would urge you to book your tickets for the activities that catch your eye to avoid being disappointed.

As part of the celebrations, we are hosting 52 weekends of cultural entertainment featuring an eclectic mix of theatre, drama, comedy and workshops, with our Culture Ambassadors attending events and providing reviews.

Great reviews

Firebird Brewery at Rudgwick played host to alternative poet and comedian Jonny Fluffypunk last week – the first of our “52” events programme. Rachel, one of our Year of Culture ambassadors, went along to what was a sell-out event and reported it was a tremendous success: 

“It was a brilliant night outspoken word, ukulele playing, great food and beer, all wrapped up with the brilliance of Jonny Fluffypunk. Who’d have thought a local brewery would play host to something like this?”

Another ambassador Mel went to Professor Simon Stewart’s talk at The Capitol. She commented:

‘Listening to the talk on culture by the highly informed and witty professor Dr Simon Stewart  at the Capitol Studio recently was a real treat – not something you get to experience in Horsham every week!’

WeFiFo hosted their first Cook and Book event organised for Horsham District Year of Culture on Thursday 31 January in Slinfold with Times bestselling author Adele Parks which was a sell-out. The food was created by The Salt Box and was hosted by WeFiFo, with great success. There’s a Cook and Book event organised for the last Thursday in every month with a well- known author every month and we’re sure they’ll be a sell out too!

This is exactly what the Year of Culture is all about. Going to things you would never usually think of going to and local venues hosting events they would probably never usually think of hosting.

I have particularly enjoyed the unveiling of some special mosaics in Henfield which were designed and hand made by the whole community there to commemorate a local lady’s key role in the Women’s Suffrage Movement. The end results were amazing and will be a lasting memorial to the village’s cultural importance and a legacy of the Year of Culture.

I also joined a packed audience for the live recording of the BBC’s Any Questions? programme in Henfield.

Looking forward

Coming up in February we have some equally unique events which are certainly firsts for our District.

I am looking forward to Horsham’s first ever Film Festival at Christ’s Hospital Theatre on 21 February. After more than 500 initial entries the shortlisted films will be announced at this red carpet awards ceremony and the winners announced.

The event, in aid of the Springboard Project, has attracted longtime filmmakers as well as novices taking up the camera for the first time to showcase their stories. The films have a wide range of topics from local legends, events, dramatic mysteries and much more. Congratulations to all those who made it through to the shortlist.

Tickets are available via Eventbrite, just search ‘Horsham Film Festival’ to book your seat, but hurry because they are selling fast.

Another first for our District is the year-long hunt for The Sussex Comedian of the Year. 

Horsham Sports Club is hosting the first ever heat of the brand new comedy competition which is open to up and coming comedians from all over the UK. The competition will be taking place across four heats and one grand final. 

Come along and support the comedians as they battle it out in Heat 1 on Thursday 28 February. Tickets are only £4. The final will take place on Friday 4 October in The Rec Rooms in Horsham. 

Other early successes include Horsham’s first Vegan Fair on Saturday 23 February which has over 1,000 people interested in attending. And Horsham Paint Night – a painting workshop for adults –  sold out within 24 hours of tickets going on sale, so we are looking to stage a second event.

Also, don’t forget to check out the antics of our globetrotting Gruffalos as they join in the Year of Culture celebrations. To mark the 20th anniversary of Julia Donaldson CBE’s bestseller book, we have sent 20 Gruffalos, sponsored by local organisations, around the world and I can’t wait to see where they get to on their travels. They set off from Leonardslee Lakes and Gardens in January and will return there in December 2019. So far they have been spotted in as far afield as Abu Dhabi, St Lucia and Bulgaria. A Gruffalo sponsored by Gatwick Airport even has its own passport with a personalised paw print signature.

What will you do and where will you go for the Horsham District Year of Culture?

With over 270 events on your doorstep to choose from, there’s something for everyone and no excuse not to get involved.

Remember – check for the most up to date events guide.

Don’t forget also our hard copy programme which gives an excellent taste of what’s planned. 

Programmes are available at Horsham Museum and Art Gallery, The Capitol, Steyning Bookshop, all libraries throughout the District and other outlets.

You can follow the Year of Culture on Twitter @HDculture2019, Instagram @HDculture2019 and on Facebook, or sign up for the regular newsletter via

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