Arts & Culture
by Aspect County


This year’s Rye Arts Festival runs from Friday 9 to Sunday 25 September and promises to be the biggest and best yet. The festival is proudly presenting a full range of artistic events, with world class performers from around the globe, as well welcoming several local speakers. The festival presents Books and Talks, Classical Music, Drama, and Film amongst other genres of the arts.


Partnering with the City Music Foundation (CMF), the Classical Music programme showcases young professional musicians at the start of their careers. A variety of lunchtime and evening concerts will be presented in the historic setting of St Mary’s Church in Rye, including the welcome return of The Victoria Consort with A Rye and Winchelsea Musical Pilgrimage. The Traditional and Contemporary music programme provides the hot sounds of West Africa to the fusion of blues guitar and Celtic fiddle, by way of 1920s Charleston music and English folk.

The Books and Talks programme are headlined by the best-selling author Robert Harris, whose latest historical novel, Act of Oblivion is published at the start of September. Don’t miss Inside the Archers, where the editor Jeremy Howe and Felicity French (who plays Ruth Archer) give the low down on the world’s longest running radio drama. On the political front, Lord David Owen will discuss England’s relationship with Russia.

The retired parson, Reverend Richard Coles talks about his debut novel, Murder Before Evensong which shot to the top of the bestseller charts, as did Patrick Gale who discusses his latest novel Mother’s Boy, which received rave reviews earlier this year. There are events celebrating one of Rye’s most famous literary residents, E.F. Benson, to mark the centenary of the publication Miss Mapp. And Alex Preston is in conversation with Adam Nicolson on his rollicking pirate novel Winchelsea.

The festival also celebrates hidden queer histories with award-wining poet Joelle Taylor, winner of the 2022 T S Eliot Prize, and award-winning writers Neill Bartlett and Sam Kenyon, plus a wonderful and inspiring Queer Poetry Soirée chaired by Nathan Evans.

Drama will include a dramatisation of Oscar Wide’s De Profundis and The Ballad of Reading Gaol. There are also two spoken word events; Stop Trying to be Fantastic and 366 Days of Kindness, in which people’s innate goodness is celebrated.

Take a trip to Rye this September when the very best of the arts comes to town. Visit the festival website for more information.