First impressions of the HighTide Festival in Aldeburgh

The HighTide Festival is still in full swing and the event continues until Sunday 16th September so this isn’t really a complete review – it’s more of a ‘first impressions’ of the festival and my suggestions of what-not-to-miss if you’re in Aldeburgh this week.

The HighTide Festival kicked off in style with the launch event at the Jubilee Hall. The tickets to the launch show were free so we went along to find out what the festival had in store for us over the coming week. We were welcomed with a refreshing glass of bubbly and delicious canapes, then we took our seats to listen to the introduction by the artistic director of the festival Steven Atkinson.

The audience was first treated to performance by the students of Summer Connect theatre group. It was based on Tallulah Brown’s play ‘Songlines’ and showed the work that the youngsters had done with the writer and director of the play during their theatre workshops. This was followed by a charming performance of Midas by the Red Rose Chain theatre group, complete with songs.

Tallulah Brown has been the subject of a flurry of media attention since her play opened at the Edinburgh Festival this year, and she’s been included one countless ‘ones-to-watch’ lists. Her gig-theatre performance Songlines has sold out for most performances, with tickets only available on the last day of the festival, so if you can get tickets for Sunday’s show, do it! If you can’t get tickets this week, Songlines is also showing at the Walthamstow HighTide Festival at the end of September.

The HighTide festival club is in the garage art space, at 152 Aldeburgh High Street, and is decorated with bunting in my favourite colours, plenty of flags and festoon lights. The club is a great space to have a break and browse the festival programme. Plus, you can book and collect your tickets from the Box Office in the club at any time, until 15 minutes after the last performance of the day.

Later in the evening, we headed back to the Jubilee hall to see Luke Wright’s show ‘Poet Laureate’. We’d already seen Luke in the Speakeasy at Latitude festival over the years and were excited to see this local poet’s solo show.The performance was witty and lighthearted at times, thought-provoking and meaningful at others. I enjoyed the addition of music, and laughed along at in-jokes woven into the verse. His univocal lipogram in O was especially impressive. We couldn’t resist buying Luke’s book The Toll, which he gladly signed for us at the end of the performance.

On Friday evening I was back in Aldeburgh for another show – Flo and Joan: Alive on Stage. You’ll definitely know who Flo and Joan are because they were the stars of a Nationwide Building Society TV advert, singing comedy songs and playing the keyboard. I expected more of the same from their performance but had no idea that I’d love the show as much as I did!

They had me in stitches from the very first welcome song, and I didn’t stop laughing all the way through the hour-long performance. I’m not usually a fan of audience participation, but I couldn’t help trying my hardest to join in with their Carol the Cracker Packer song. I really don’t know how they do it!  I’ve already booked to see them on their UK tour next year – yes, they were THAT good! We caught up with them after the show and they’re not only massively talented, they’re also lovely girls too.

The festival continues throughout the rest of the week and culminates with ‘Super Sunday’ where you can get tickets for 5 shows for just £40 including Edinburgh plays Thor and Loki and The Extinction Event. Check out the HighTide Festival special offers page to see this deal, along with The Weekender and ‘Super Saturday’ deals.

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Cassie is a freelance writer with a Masters degree in lifestyle promotion studies. She loves to 'get the look for less' so regularly shares thrifty fashion posts, DIY interior design ideas and low-cost recipes on her blog.

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