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Festival Review 2012

With 68 events spread over 9 days the 12th annual Jane Austen Festival was the largest and best attended ever. 2012 saw the closure of the city centre for the official opening the Grand Regency Costumed Promenade, over 600 people plus re-enactors from the 32nd Cornwall regiment and others paraded through the streets from the Royal Crescent via Queen Square and Milsom Street to Parade Gardens.

Well known faces, Adrian Lukis (Mr Wickham in 1995 P&P) and Caroline Langrishe were superb at the Assembly Rooms when they performed duologues from Austen’s work. Paula Byrne told us about the portrait she had found that ‘could/might’ be Jane Austen. Extraordinary acting company Artifice performed ‘The Way to Keep Him’ almost exactly 200 years after Jane Austen had seen it in London and then closed the Festival with their very fine original piece ‘Reading Histories, Drawing Pullets’.

The Masked Ball in the Pump Rooms with its reception around the Roman Baths was a stunning success and complete sell out. The highlight of the evening was Mr Beveridge’s Maggot which the dancers had been practising all week, much to the delight and amusement of the Sports Centre staff in Bath!Sense & Sensibility the Musical bought all the way from the USA by Tin Roof Productions was great fun and the Mission Theatre the ideal location for this and the Baroque dance display by Bath Minuet. Lindsey Holmes of Keat’s House Museum provided an excellent workshop on how to get the Austen look on the cheap whilst Charlotte Raine showed us how to put on our corsets and embroider Regency style.

With walks every day and minibus tours of the city for the less mobile as well as trips to Street Shoe Museum and Stourhead (where filming for the 2005 P&P film took place) plus a workshop on how to play the harp everyone kept busy throughout the week.Thanks are due to the army of volunteers who acted as Stewards with all manner of duties throughout the Festival and without whom the events would not have taken place – thank-you!

Report from 2012 Grand Regency Costumed PromenadeThe Promenade was a fantastic success, we estimated well over 500 people dressed in Regency costume, strolled through the streets led by Soldiers, Sailors and our own Town Crier. Because of the huge crowds that watched and blocked the pavements it was necessary for the Promenaders to walk on the road which meant that Queen Square, George Street, Milsom Street and Orange Grove had to be closed to traffic.We were so successful that, due to the numbers involved it will be necessary to restrict those taking part in 2013 and there will be a different ticketing system which will be checked throughout the walk.  In 2012 we raised a total of £354 for our chosen charity: Dorset & Somerset Air Ambulance thank you to all those who purchased tickets.

There was a new starting point from Queen Square and the finish was in Parade Gardens. Do have a look at this film on YouTube of the 2012 Promenade.

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