- What: A mixed literature, fine and performing arts, pop culture and comedy festival with a long and distinguished history. The Canterbury Festival now even has its own Fringe.
- When: middle of October
- Where: Canterbury Cathedral, the Gulbenkian Theatre and other venues around Canterbury city center
- Admission: Different prices for performances and many free events
- Festival Box Office Canterbury Information Centre 12/13 Sun Street, The Buttermarket, Canterbury, CT1 2HX
- Tel: +44 (0)1227 378188
From a Play in the Cathedral to a Full Blown FestivalCanterbury may not be as flash as the Edinburgh Festival but it certainly is much older. It grew out of tradition of the Cathedral Play, in the late 1920s and was formalized as a festival by the Dean of Canterbury Cathedral in 1929. Interrupted by World War II, the festival did not come into its own again until the 1980s. Today it is one of most important arts festivals in the southeast of England.
Between 1928 and 1948 the Cathedral Play was a central feature of the festival. Authors commissioned to write plays for performance in the cathedral included John Masefield, Dorothy Sayers and Christopher Fry. Murder in the Cathedral, T.S. Eliot's classic verse drama about the murder of Thomas à Becket in Canterbury Cathedral was written for this festival in 1935.
In 2008, the tradition of the Cathedral play was reinstated with a specially commissioned work, Dallas Sweetman, by Sebastian Barry.
In addition to theatre, today the festival includes:
- classical music and opera
- world music
- family events
- talks and literature
- exhibitions and gallery events
- a festival fringe
- participatory events like walks and tango classes
- city-wide surprises - in 2008 photos of angels appeared all over Canterbury.