Chichester Cathedral Festival of Flowers

Chichester Cathedral prepares for its spectacular 10th Festival of Flowers:

‘The Music Makers’

29th, 30th & 31st May 2014

Fifty thousand flowers and thousands of visitors are expected at Chichester Cathedral for the 2014 Festival of Flowers on the 29th, 30th and 31st May.  This biennial event welcomes visitors from all over the world who come to experience what has been called the ‘gold standard’ of Flower Festivals.

Chichester’s majestic nine hundred year-old Cathedral will be transformed with over ninety stunning arrangements, all following the theme of the Festival’s title: The Music Makers.  A dazzling array of imaginative and beautiful flower designs will interpret twelve centuries of music: from pop to plainsong, classics to jazz, sacred to secular. Chichester Cathedral spokeswoman, Ruth Poyner, explains: ‘The Festival of Flowers is in aid of the Chichester Cathedral Restoration and Development Trust.  The Trust tirelessly raises funds to enable the repair and restoration of the Cathedral, and this event has grown in size and success over the years.  This year over 500 volunteers – including 250 accomplished flower arrangers – will present a spectacular event that has been specially devised to celebrate the Festival of Flowers’ 10th Anniversary.’

Once in the Cathedral, visitors will immediately encounter an explosion of colour in the Nave, recreating Joseph’s Technicolor Dreamcoat.  This vibrant display will include the actual Dreamcoat worn by Jason Donovan in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s highly successful West End musical.  The earliest music to be featured in the Festival was composed at the same time that Chichester Cathedral was dedicated in the 12th century – it is a piece named Sanctus Spiritus, written by the extraordinary female Saint and mystic, Hildegard of Bingen.  The most contemporary piece is a mini opera The Sweeper of Dreams written by Alma Deutscher, who was only eight years old when she composed the piece in 2012.

This exciting Festival takes place both inside and outside the Cathedral, where visitors can wander through the entire Cathedral Grounds enjoying a programme of music as they go.  The Festival Market includes forty stalls selling a vast range of plants and craft items, not to mention vintage clothes and some quirky and unique gifts.  Delicious refreshments and places to relax can be found in the Café de Fleur and Cloisters Café.

In honour of this year’s 10th Anniversary a unique iris has been especially grown by the internationally famous French grower, Richard Cayeux of Gien. The iris, named Cathédrale de Chichester, is being launched at the Chelsea Flower Show this week and will then come to Chichester to be displayed at the Festival.  Other famous names include the gardening expert and TV presenter Charlie Dimmock, who is patron of the 2014 Festival, and the sculptor Philip Jackson who will be exhibiting his work at the event.

A landmark new book is also scheduled to be published on the eve of this year’s Festival.  Flower Festivals at Chichester Cathedral is the first book to tell the full story of this successful event since its beginning in 1996.  This fascinating book gives a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the ten festivals and is full of beautiful photographs – the perfect purchase for flower and/or Chichester enthusiasts.

Across the city centre, nineteen shops are also participating in the Festival of Flowers.  Each shop has taken up the challenge to interpret The Music Makers theme in their window display and visitors can discover these displays in the following:  Little London Boutique, Crabtree & Evelyn, Zigzag, Proposals, Phase Eight, Mousetrap, Present Surprise, Hennings Wine, Seasalt, Little Shop of Secrets, Vintage@Chi, House of Gerry Weber, Classix Ladies Fashions, Royal Orchid, Chichester House of Fraser, David Messam, Cancer Research U.K., Q Hair & Beauty, The Flower Gallery.  This shop window competition is generously supported by the Chichester City Centre Partnership.

Many other local organisations have also had a hand in the 2014 Festival: students from Bishop Luffa School have contributed artwork for The Sweeper of Dreams display; clients at the Aldingbourne Trust drop-in centre have been creating animal masks to assist with the interpretation of Noye’s Fludde, a work by Benjamin Britten; floristry students at the Chichester College Brinsbury Campus have gained valuable experience as part of their coursework, as have mature students undertaking a NAFAS Flower Arrangement Diploma course – and many of them look set to become arrangers for future Festivals.

Tickets are available online: by telephone: 01243 813595 or in person at the Cathedral.