Highlights revealed as Portsmouth Festivities launches its 20th year of celebrating culture in the city

Promoted by Portsmouth Festivities

It’s a landmark 20th year for the Portsmouth Festivities – the city’s annual arts and culture festival. Entertainments editor CHRIS BROOM sets the scene and looks at some of the highlights.

From June 14-23, visitors and residents of the city are invited to a 10-day extravaganza which showcases the best of Portsmouth – and the world!

(Clockwise from top left): Jay Rayner, Pif-Paf Theatre, Jason Rebello and The Cardinall's Musick will be part of Portsmouth Festivities this year

(Clockwise from top left): Jay Rayner, Pif-Paf Theatre, Jason Rebello and The Cardinall's Musick will be part of Portsmouth Festivities this year

The festival continues to impress with a diverse range of events.

The theme for this year’s festival is TWENTY, which provides the inspiration for the festival’s centre piece: 20 Love, a live multi-arts event on Governor’s Green. This ambitious undertaking brings together film, music and spoken word poetry. Working with Portsmouth Poetry, Gregg Mosse, The Urban Vocal Group, Egg & Spoon Films and many talented young writers, the event will produce modern day interpretations of Pablo Neruda’s 20 Love Poems and a Song of Despair. 20 Love also invites the public to submit their own poems on postcards distributed around the city, some of which will be featured in the evening show.

As well as hosting some of the most innovative work in Portsmouth this summer, the Portsmouth Festivities are hosting some of the biggest names in the creative arts today – which we highlight here.

Also, Aspex Gallery host Homage, an exhibition of artwork that celebrates the festival’s 20-year history, Hotwalls Studios and Art Space will open their doors to the public during the festival’s run, and the No.6 Cinema is honouring classics on film by screening three films in their 20th anniversary this year.

Guy Johnston will be performing on Saturday June 22

Guy Johnston will be performing on Saturday June 22

The festival’s director, Erica Smith, says: ‘It’s been a joy to programme our landmark anniversary. Despite growing year-on-year, 70 per cent of the events remain entirely free, enabling it to reach out to those parts of the community not normally reached by arts events. Here’s to another 20 years!’

Portsmouth Festivities 2019 will run between Friday 14 and Sunday 23 June.

Discover more at portsmouthfestivities.co.uk

Opening Concert: The Cardinall’s Musick

Friday, June 14, 8pm,

Portsmouth Cathedral, High Street, Old Portsmouth

Tickets £17/£15

The Cardinall’s Musick is a highly successful and innovative ensemble, known for its extensive study and performance of English Renaissance music. Share in some of the finest music written for the ensemble in recent years, as well as masterpieces of the 16th Century. The programme includes Palestrina’s stunning Magnificat, Nico Muhly’s powerful setting of medieval words, and William Byrd’s thrilling motet, Laudibus in Sanctis. The Cardinall’s Musick will be joined by the Chamber Choir of The Portsmouth Grammar School.

Mari Kalkun: Estonian Folk

Saturday, June 15, 8pm

St George’s Church, St George’s Square, Portsea

Tickets £15/£13.50

Lose yourself in this meditative mix of Estonian tradition and innovative song writing, brought to you by one of the most forward-looking folk artists today. Since releasing her first album in Estonia in 2007, Mari Kalkun has toured Europe and sold albums as far afield as Japan. In 2018, Mari was nominated in two categories at the Estonian Music Awards and also received the Tallinn Music Week artist award. Her fifth and latest album, Ilmamõtsan, was rated in The Guardian’s top 10 best world albums.

Jay Rayner: The Ten Food Commandments

Sunday, June 26, 7.30pm

David Russell Theatre, The Portsmouth Grammar School, High Street.

Tickets £22.50/£20

The original Ten Commandments have very little to offer when it comes to the complex business of how and what we eat. Share in this audio-visual romp as our very own culinary Moses invites thee to ‘honour thy pig’, explains why ‘thou shalt always eat with thy hands’, why ‘thou must celebrate the stinkiest of foods’ and why ‘thou should most definitely worship thy leftovers’! For all this and more, join award-winning restaurant critic, MasterChef judge and chair of BBC Radio 4’s Kitchen Cabinet, Jay Rayner, as he attempts to lead us to the edible Promised Land. Includes Q&A and book signing.

Simon Singh: From Theorems to Serums, from Cryptology to Cosmology … and The Simpsons

Monday, June 17, 7pm

David Russell Theatre, The Portsmouth Grammar School, High Street.

Tickets £10/£8/£3

Join popular science and maths writer Simon Singh on a whistle-stop tour through two decades of his bestselling books. Last Theorem looks at one of the biggest mathematical puzzles of the millennium; The Code Book shares the secrets of cryptology; Big Bang explores the history of cosmology; Trick or Treatment asks some hard questions about alternative medicine; and Simon’s latest book, The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets, explains how TV writers, throughout the cartoon’s 25-year history, have smuggled in mathematical jokes.

Jason Rebello Trio

Tuesday, June 18, 7.30pm

David Russell Theatre, The Portsmouth Grammar School, High Street.

Tickets £15/£13

Celebrated British jazz pianist Jason Rebello was labelled ‘a veteran’ by critics at 19, and over the next decade won most of the major jazz music awards. He has performed with artists including Sting, Jeff Beck and Peter Gabriel, and his latest release Held (2016) won Album of the Year in the British Jazz Awards.

Kate Mosse

Thursday, June 20, 7pm

The Square Tower, Broad Street, Portsmouth.

Tickets £10/£8

Join the conversation with number one international bestselling novelist, playwright and non-fiction writer, Kate Mosse. Kate is the author of six novels and short story collections – including the multimillion-selling Languedoc Trilogy (Labyrinth, Sepulchre and Citadel), The Winter Ghosts, and The Taxidermist’s Daughter. Her books have been translated into 37 languages and published in more than 40 countries. She is the founder director of the Women’s Prize for Fiction and a regular interviewer for theatre and fiction events. The talk will be followed by a Q&A and a book-signing.

Tenebrae Consort: Medieval Chant & Tallis Lamentations

Friday, 21 June, 8.15pm

Portsmouth Cathedral, High Street, Old Portsmouth

Tickets £17/£15

The internationally acclaimed Tenebrae Consort brings you a programme of Gregorian chant alongside Thomas Tallis’s intensely moving Lamentations of Jeremiah. Immerse yourself in the hypnotic tranquillity of unaccompanied plainsong, psalms and hymns, paired with the elegant counterpoint of Tallis and Sheppard. Directed by Nigel Short.

Guy Johnston: Cello recital with Tom Poster

Saturday, June 22, 7.30pm

David Russell Theatre, The Portsmouth Grammar School, High Street.

Tickets £15/£13

Guy Johnston is one of the most exciting cellists of his generation. After winning BBC Young Musician of the Year in 2000, Guy went on to become an internationally renowned soloist and performer. Don’t miss this delightful mix of 19th-century and contemporary music, from Beethoven’s variations on Mozart’s The Magic Flute, to the dramatic and impassioned Kiss on Wood, by James MacMillan. Guy will be playing with Tom Poster, a composer and concert pianist who recently featured as a soloist on the soundtrack for The Theory of Everything (2014).

SEED: Pif-Paf Theatre

Sunday, June 23, 12.30-1.05pm, 2.30-3.05pm

Southsea Castle, Clarence Esplande, Southsea.


Take a journey into the life of the young and ancient trees that we walk under every day with Pif-Paf’s one-man street theatre show. Intimate and explosive, the show contains live and especially composed music. It is full of captivating images, puppetry, giant inflatables and, of course, Pif-Paf’s trademark Heath-Robinson-meets-Mad-Max inventions.

Closing Event: 20 Love

Sunday, June 23, 8pm

Governor’s Green, Portsmouth

Free (ticket required)

To celebrate 20 years of Portsmouth Festivities, we bring you the world premiere of 20 Love. In partnership with Portsmouth Poetry, we bring contemporary interpretations of Pablo Neruda’s Twenty Love Poems and A Song of Despair, which explore the universal experience of love, loss, regret and disappointment. Lovingly linked to our 20th anniversary theme, this event will showcase modern versions of the poems in spoken word, film and music by artists Greg Mosse, The Urban Vocal Group, Egg and Spoon Films, Connor Macleod and Emily Priest.