Hopes are growing for the future of a Lincolnshire market town’s cultural festival after an ‘incredible’ first week. The RiverLight Festival in Sleaford ended on Saturday March 19 – with festival-goers hoping it will be the first of many.
The week-long festival began with a series of events on the sidelines of the city on Sunday, March 13. It culminated on Saturday, with a series of live music and art installations on Eastgate Green, centered and themed around the River Slea.
The festival began life under the moniker “SleaFest” and was shaped by an initial public consultation in December. Alongside North Kesteven District Council and with funding from the Government’s Welcome Back Fund, the Hub arts center team have led the project throughout its development.
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Lucy Lumb, Visual Arts Development Coordinator at the Hub, said the team is proud of how the community has come together. She said: “The turnout has been incredible.
“It was amazing to have so many great comments on the day and to see the joy the festival brought. We are very proud that the Hub team, supported by so many brilliant artists, creatives, volunteers, of local community groups and businesses, came together to make it all happen.”
The coordinator added that a follow-up festival may well be on the cards. She said: “Everyone is already talking about what will happen next year.
“We need to secure funding and would love to speak to any companies interested in sponsoring future projects and events.” The festival becoming an annual tradition is a popular idea among residents and councillors, with Cllr Anthony Brand previously telling Lincolnshire Live that an annual festival would be “brilliant” for the town.
On Sunday morning, residents of Sleaford gathered to carry out a litter pick-up to clean up the rubbish left behind. Cllr Richard Wright, the leader of the district council, praised both the spirit of the town and the work of the organisers.
He said: “RiverLight Festival was designed to be a colorful and bright celebration of Sleaford town center and the River Slea with all of our communities and we couldn’t be happier with the outcome. We have received wonderful feedback already. from local people and groups, businesses and partners on the extra liveliness it has brought through the city centre, and I’m excited to see a deeper analysis of the festival and what it tells us about its success.
“A week of sideline events led to a crescendo of RiverLight activity and performances on Saturday, including headline performances such as Dream Engine’s Octo played on air at the Market and the Luminosi tree at Eastgate, as well as art celebrating the River Slea, unforgettable street theater and activities, song, dance and music, heritage exhibits, fantastic food, shopping and much more in the town center , all driven by both a shared vision and the government’s return fund. An atmospheric celebration of light and color along the Slea in Eastgate Green with a string quartet on Saturday evening and a well-attended community litter pick Sunday put an end to all that.”
The head of the council also thanked the Hub team, the businesses that supported the festival, the schools that added their own “shine”, as well as the volunteers and visitors. He added: “Our hope is certainly that this will inspire more travel to Sleaford and the surrounding area to continue to enjoy all that our district has to offer.”