Cosmic firework finale planned for festivities

FESTIVITIES The Ghost Ship display in 2009 on Castle Field when the ship was set alight in front of thousands of people
FESTIVITIES The Ghost Ship display in 2009 on Castle Field when the ship was set alight in front of thousands of people
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THIS year’s Portsmouth Festivities have lifted off with a cosmic theme and their largest funding grant ever.

Following the success of the Ghost Ship fireworks display in 2009, Arts Council England has once again provided funds for a spectacular finale to close 11 days of events.

The festivities have received £75,000 to create a major climax for Portsmouth: Space City, which will run from June 16 to 26.

Devised by outdoor performance group Walk the Plank – which also worked on Ghost Ship – the project is entitled Lift Off! and will be inspired by space and the science of flight.

Chairman of the festivities and headteacher of Portsmouth Grammar School James Priory said: ‘This is fantastic news for Portsmouth.

‘We are thrilled to have achieved this support from Arts Council England, particularly in these difficult times, and are encouraged by the confidence they have in the festivities as a major force in the cultural life of the city.

‘We look forward to working closely with all the partners involved to bring another unique spectacular event to Portsmouth.’

Running over 11 days, the festivities are set to feature a programme of more than 70 events, including workshops with schools, classical music concerts, talks and displays, all celebrating Portsmouth’s history of cosmology, astronomy and space technology.

The free fireworks finale takes place on Sunday June 26, in Castle Field, Southsea, at the climax of a carnival procession.

Organisers said they hope the event will attract an even bigger audience than Ghost Ship – which was watched by more than 6,000 people in 2009.

Liz Pugh, producer for Walk the Plank, said: ‘We want to create a procession with a real wow factor.

‘We’d like the show to include significant figures in the history of flight – from Icarus with his wax wings flying too close to the sun to the astronauts who orbit the earth in today’s space stations.’

Supporting the project are Portsmouth Grammar School, Portsmouth City Council, Astrium, The Southern Cooperative, Gunwharf Quays, Lockheed Martin, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard and Colas.

Details of the festivities programme will be available in the spring on portsmouthfestivities.co.uk.