ALIEN visitor E.T. will feel right at home in Portsmouth this summer as the city’s festivities reach for the stars with 11 days of space-themed events.
Full details of the 12th Portsmouth Festivities are revealed today, with chairman James Priory promising ‘the largest and most successful programme so far’.
Among the highlights will be performances of sci-fi themes, a visit from astronomer Sir Patrick Moore and screenings of science fiction hits like Spielberg’s E.T.
The festivities have previously had a strong leaning towards celebrating the city’s history, but Mr Priory said: ‘Rather than focusing on the past, we are this year looking to the future and celebrating Portsmouth as a city of science and space.’
The programme, inspired by the civic motto, Heaven’s Light Our Guide, begins on June 16 with a concert of space-themed music from cinema and concert hall played by the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra in the Guildhall.
The city-wide celebration will involve young people and community groups as it charts the journey from man’s first attempts at flight to the successful Nasa programme. As Heaven’s Light was seen as the sailor’s guide, another appropriate visitor will be Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, who in 1968-69 became first person to sail solo and non-stop around the world.
Other big-name participants include violinist Tasmin Little and scientist and broadcaster Jim Al-Khalili who lives in Southsea.
For the finale on June 26, there will be a series of events called Lift Off! – beginning with a carnival procession from Gunwharf Quays to Southsea Bandstand involving schools, circus artists, street dancers and costumed performers, before Castle Field hosts a fireworks finale, including live music and dance.
Mr Priory said he was looking forward to opening the festivities with a vibrant weekend including the Galactic Classics concert and several events with Nasa astronaut Dr Stephen K Robinson.
‘There will be lots of opportunities to see classic sci-fi films such as E.T. and of the speakers I particularly look forward to hearing Lord Robert Winston,’ he said.
‘I am also delighted that we are working with others in the city to programme lots of free outdoor events and for our finale weekend I am looking forward to joining the crowds for the Lift Off! carnival procession and Twilight Fire Spectacular on Castle Field.’
Festivities tickets are available on (023) 9282 6722 or portsmouthfestivities.co.uk.