Express & Star

Major new Sutton Coldfield festival will celebrate William Shakespeare

Sutton Coldfield is set to play host to a special festival celebrating the works of William Shakespeare this spring.

Celebrate Shakespeare

The festival is being organised by FOLIO with funding from the Royal Sutton Coldfield Town Council’s Community Grant Programme, grants from the Making a Different Locally Foundation, a Magic Little Grant from Localgiving and Postcode Community Trust, and a gift from a private benefactor.

The festival will feature over 20 different events and activities across the town throughout April.

From street theatre to spoken word, alongside talks and walks about Sutton in the time of Shakespeare, films and plays made by community groups inspired by the Bard, photography and writing competitions celebrating Sutton’s creativity, Elizabethan dance workshops, music performances and much more across six different venues.

There will also be a day of special activities in Sutton Coldfield Library on the Bard’s birthday, April 23.

Jenny Wilkinson, FOLIO trustee, said: “Sutton Coldfield is mentioned in Shakespeare’s play Henry IV part 1, and we wanted to celebrate this by hosting a wonderful multi-arts festival, with a rich mixture of professional and community involvement, inspired by FOLIO’s participation in the ‘Everything to Everybody’ Project, a collaboration between the University of Birmingham and Birmingham City Council, with funding also contributed by National Lottery Heritage Fund and History West Midlands.”

Liz Parry, also a FOLIO trustee, said: “During our festival there will be all sorts of opportunities for people to have fun, learn and be inspired, whether they want to get involved with a community curated Shakespeare exhibition, drawing on material held in the Library of Birmingham’s Shakespeare Memorial Library, taking part in one of our creative workshops or simply enjoying being part of the audience at one of the several productions which feature as part of the festival.”

Zoe Toft, Chair of FOLIO, added: "We couldn’t put on this great festival without the amazing support from Sutton Coldfield Town Council. Thanks to their generous community grant we’ll be bringing some amazing shows to Sutton as well as commissioning local artists and suppliers, collaborating with community groups and creating lots of opportunities for Sutton residents to come together to enjoy and celebrate the greatest writer in the English language.”

Cllr Simon Ward, Leader of the Royal Sutton Coldfield Town Council said, "Royal Sutton Coldfield Town Council is delighted to be able to support this fantastic cultural event. Our town has a rich heritage and it's great to be able to bring the work of the favourite son of the Midlands to Royal Town in such an innovative, inclusive and accessible way – we cannot wait for the festival!"

FOLIO is running two competitions,as part of the event, which launch today.

Will’s Word Wizards is a competition for 7-13 year olds to create exciting new words to use during the festival.

William Shakespeare introduced about 1,700 new words into English and FOLIO is on the look-out for new words to have fun with.

They are inviting children to use their wizarding powers to coin a new word, explain what it means and what inspired it, write a sentence with it and then send it to the charity by March 27 to be in with a chance of winning a sack of ‘gold ’coins for themselves (actually £25’s worth of pound coins) and £125 worth of books for their school.

Full details can be found at

'This green plot shall be our stage' is a photography competition inspired by the fact that Gum Slade in Sutton Park is said to have inspired A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

FOLIO are inviting everyone to grab their phone, compact or DSLR camera and submit beautiful, unusual and interesting photos of Sutton Park to be in with a chance of having their photo displayed in Sutton Library during the festival, winning an art print of their entry, and a postcard pack featuring the 6 best entries to the competition.

There are two categories for young people aged 15 or under and photos taken by people aged 16 or over. Full details can be found at

To keep up to date as the festival programme is released and opportunities to get involved are announced, members of the public are encouraged to sign up to FOLIO’s newsletter at

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