HUNDREDS of people were left in awe as Portsmouth Anglican Cathedral was lit up in a visual spectacular as the 17th annual Portsmouth Festivities kicked off.
The 10-day event got off to an electrifying start last night with the city set to become a hub of cultural activity as more than 100 events got under way.
London Contemporary Orchestra officially started the party with a concert in the cathedral before hundreds gathered outside for the show by illumination artists Luxmuralis.
Festivities director Erica Smith said: ‘The show is simply electrifying, the theme is all based around electricity and I think you really get that from watching the show.
‘Preparations have been going well and I think this year’s events are going to be amazing.
‘We’ve got events coming this year that really suit everyone.
This year is the festival’s biggest ever line-up with Luxmuralis set to return for what promises to be another stellar display at the Royal Garrison Church in Penny Street tonight.
Also, three art exhibitions were launched yesterday
A specially-themed blacksmith exhibition called Midsummer Madness kicked off in The Little Duck Forge in The Old Pumping Station in Henderson Road.
Spectators attending the free event today and tomorrow will also get the chance to see demonstrations of forging.
Portsmouth-based contemporary artist Adrian Mundy’s free exhibition titled Natural Imperfections at The Aspex Gallery started yesterday and will run to Sunday, June 26.
And the Gallery in Gunwharf Quays launched another free exhibition yesterday from ceramic artist Malene Hartmann Rasmussen, which runs until tomorrow.
Ms Smith added: ‘It’s great that we’ve got just over 40 free events this year, which is more than we’ve ever had.
‘All I can say to the people of Portsmouth is to stick around and come down as this year’s events will be bigger and better than we’ve had before.’
Each year Ms Smith and her team start planning next year’s events from the moment the last festival finishes and she added that ‘a lot of work’ had gone in to making this year’s events appeal to a wider audience.
For more information, go to portsmouthfestivities.co.uk
WHAT’S COMING UP
Today (Saturday, June 18):
n Seafood on the garden; a seafood meal from Portsmouth’s own delicacies to be held at Portsmouth Cathedral Green in High Street. From midday to 2.30pm.
n Seann Walsh’s favourite film; Comedian Seann Walsh will provide a 10-minute intro ahead of his favourite film Planes, Trains and Automobiles at No.6 Cinema at Boathouse 6 in the Historic Dockyard. Tickets cost £15. Starts at 7pm.
Sunday, June 19:
n I’ll keep waiting on the pavement for the ice cream man to come; Theatrical performance on HMS Warrior featuring the rise and fall of an ice cream van. Tickets cost £10 with the 45-minute show starting at 11am and 1pm.
n Choir of Merton College, Oxford; The renowned choir will provide an evening of choral music at Portsmouth Anglican Cathedral in a special concert. Tickets range from £5 to £16. Starts at 8pm.
Tuesday, June 21:
n Andy Robertshaw marks the anniversary of the Battle of the Somme; One of the UK’s most famous historians delivers four lectures on the famous battle with a Q&A to follow afterwards.
Tickets cost £5 and his lectures are at 1.30pm, 3pm, 5pm and 6.30pm.
n Electrically eccentric Albert Road; Performance of Portsmouth musicians celebrating the music of Albert Road at the Kings Theatre. Tickets cost £7.50. Starts at 7pm.
Friday, June 24:
n Silent disco: Electric-themed silent disco at the Royal Naval Club & Royal Albert Yacht Club.
Tickets cost £12. Starts at 8pm.
Saturday, June 25:
n Paulsgrove Carnival; The 31st annual Paulsgrove Carnival leaves King Richard School at 10.30am for a two-mile walk with a range of events on the green including live music and refreshments. Starts at 10.30am.
n Art Space Portsmouth; Once-in-a-year chance to get a look at Portsmouth art studios in Open Studios.
n Free event at the Art Space in Brougham Road, starts at 1pm.
Mugenkyo Taiko Drummers; The Taiko Drummers have returned to this year’s festival l for another stellar performance which is not just thrilling to listen to but a sight for the eyes to behold.
The event at the New Theatre Royal starts at 7.30am and tickets cost £22.
A full list of the events is available at portsmouthfestivities.co.uk