The weekend of 12th-14th July is indeed a Big Weekend. If ever there was a weekend to visit Rochester, this is it.
To quote WOW Magazine, it’s “a veritable feast of home-grown arts and entertainment”.
Part of this Big Weekend is the Homespun Festival, a collaboration between Medway promoters Medway Eyes, Tea Concerts, Motherboy and Suburban Kings to showcase the very best of our thriving Medway music scene. Featuring both local and national artists, the weekend aims to highlight what is happening at the grass roots of Medway music and prove that independent music really is the beating heart of our towns.
Taking place over various Rochester venues, with an extra gig being held at the Barge in Gillingham, Homespun is a cluster of complimentary, yet diverse gigs taking place on the evening of Friday 12th July and daytime into evening on July 13th. The daytime gigs are free, but to cover costs some evening shows will have a ticket fee, which can be booked in advance.
Featuring acts such as Gravenhurst, The Claim, The Parade, Theatre Royal, Lupen Crook, Ice Sea Dead People, The A-Lines and Zombie Met Girl to name just a few, over 44 acts will play over the course of the festival, meaning there will be plenty to choose from, ranging from acoustic folk acts, to experimental music, through indie to punk.
Full line up and times for Homespun can be found at
The ever popular Vine’s Cherry Picnic takes place on Saturday July 13th from 1pm-4pm. In aid of Macmillan, there’s loads happening in the Vines and with the weather promising to be a scorcher, it’s sure to be busy.
David Rye, the Vines “cherry man” says that after a slow start with the cold spring and late blossom, the cherries are on course to be at their peak. Bunted will be back in the park selling their beautiful bunting, Cathedral Tea Rooms will be selling cakes and sandwiches, and King’s Rochester is providing a takeaway hot drinks stall.
There will be a tombola raising money for Macmillan with the kind support of many businesses on the High Street, Troy Town School will be manning a craft and activity stall for children and there’s a coconut shy and “tin can alley” lined up for young and old to show off their skills. There’s also a Cherry Dessert competition with a voucher for Topes as first prize – please email: firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and an entry form. On the day, the organisers will be looking for judges to vote on their favourite dessert. And Restoration House will be specially opening for the day with a percentage of takings going to Macmillan.
If all that wasn’t enough, the Big Weekend also sees the launch of Medway Open Studios & Arts Festival. Running Saturday 13th to Sunday 21st July, over 200 local artists across 32 venues will be throwing open their doors. These include artist Wendy Daws who will be opening her studio at Hulkes Lane in Rochester to demonstrate the techniques used to create a tactile bronze version of the Rochester Cathedral fresco.
In addition to the studios opening, there are open mic events, film screenings, poetry readings and a ‘guided sound walk’ by artist Jane Pitt leaving from her studio in Hulkes Lane on 20/21 July at 2pm.
Full details of all the open studios can be found at www.medwayopenstudios.co.uk, from the Deaf Cat, Sun Pier House or in WOW magazine.
And then to cap things off, on Sunday 14th July The Rochester Literature Festival Garden Party takes place at the Good Intent Pub in John Street between 12pm and 4pm. There will be storytelling, prose and a special edition of ‘Seasonally Effected’, an open mic session with a difference. Full details can be found at www.rochesterlitfest.com.