Langport’s summer festivals
PUBLISHED: 11:41 21 June 2016 | UPDATED: 11:42 21 June 2016
This busy town on the Somerset Levels is gearing up for its season of celebrations
In Somerset we are blessed with a number of ancient market towns which still retain much of their character and where you can hear the heartbeat of the local community. A leisurely visit to Langport on a summer’s day, following the path of the meandering river and soaking up the friendly hustle and bustle of the vibrant main shopping street, is a super day out.
And if it’s been a long time since your last trip, why not head down to Langport when the town celebrates its annual festival.
Nine days of art, music, dance and sports – plus a sprinkling of quirky events that Langport does so well – take place from 18-26 June.
This year the Langport Festival marks its fifth birthday by celebrating the river as its theme. In a departure from previous years it’s being held later in June to avoid exam and holiday periods.
Chairman of the Festival Committee, Andrew Lee says: “We’re not trying to compete with Glastonbury or any other festival, we’re aiming to get community groups to showcase what they can do. It’s a celebration of local talent for local people, and an opportunity for people to join in something they may not have tried before. Where else could you learn calligraphy, try handbell ringing, have a go at cricket, debate Shakespeare’s importance and take your teddy bear to a picnic all in the same week?”
Some of the events feature iconic aspects of Langport’s heritage and are only available at festival time, such as a visit to the Grade 1 listed Hanging Chapel. With origins thought to lie in the 13th century, this Scheduled Ancient Monument is Langport’s most famous landmark and it forms an arch over The Hill, one of the earliest roads in the town. The towers of both All Saints and St Mary’s churches are opening simultaneously and there’s a guided tour of the Battle of Langport site, led by Julian Humphrys of the Battlefields Trust, followed by a talk on the English Civil War.
Amongst the events being staged by businesses are a demonstration by Shakspeare Glass, workshops by Every Cloud art gallery and an exhibition in Art Tea Zen tea shop. Kitchen café hosts a riverside jazz brunch at Great Bow Wharf and pizza making in the Town Garden. The Potting Shed at Kelways is offering salmon and watercress specials at lunchtimes and you can also take a wine tasting tour of Smith & Evans vineyard.
Other events to look out for include a pop-up museum in the town hall, a junior fun run, books a quiz, a display by Langport Flower Club and a choir concert. The Bagehot Memorial Fund hosts a debate at Huish Episcopi Academy with a Shakespearian theme in the year that marks the 400th anniversary of the bard’s death.
Many events are free, and some need to be booked in advance.
Flying the flag
For 16 weeks each summer, colourful flags decorate the main streets of Langport. They were originally part of a Langport and Huish Episcopi Youth Group project, which has grown bigger over the past five years. Other groups and schools now involved are Huish Primary and Huish Academy, Hambridge School, RAISE and The Ridgway Hall Disability Group. Discover more about the flags on twitter @Langporty
2 July: Head for The Rec at Kingsbury Episcopi (TA12 6AX) for this year’s Party by the Parrett’s relaxed atmosphere of music, local beer, cider and food.
And at nearby Thorney Lakes…
12 June: The Green Sythe Fair, 11am-11pm, is the coming together of two events: the West of England Scything Championships and the South Somerset Green Fair. Check the website for details of the music line up and craft field events.
28-31 July: Billed as ‘muddy gurt fun’ the Lowland Games have been going strong for 30 years. The fun and frolics – including mud wrestling, wife carrying and a river raft race – take place in the field opposite Thorney Lakes (TA10 0DR)