1994 to 2009
Every year since 1994 there has been an International Gilbert and Sullivan Festival held in the Derbyshire Spa Town of Buxton. So far we have attended every one.
The first festival opened on Sunday July 31st 1994 with a costumed parade and a "big sing" and opening ceremony in the Octagon.
There have also been split festivals where some of the time has been spent in other places. The first took place in 1996 when the first "leg" took place in Philadelphia. Then in 1997 there was a three venue festival covering Berkeley California (June 14th-22nd), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (July 19th-27th), and Buxton, England (August 2nd-17th). Buxton was the only venue again, until 2002, when the first week was spent in Eastbourne. This was the last time the festival was to play "away" and all subsequent Festivals have been in Buxton alone! It is such a perfect location.
The Opera House being decorated ready for the festival.
The format of the Festival has remained constant with slight modifications to an excellent concept. It is basically an international competition between amateur Gilbert & Sullivan Societies. These productions take place each evening in the Opera House and after the production the adjudicator gives his or her comments on the production we have just seen. The group which gets the best review is the champion - there are also individual and group awards in various categories (see results pages for more details). At the weekends we usually have professional productions either by one of the full time professional groups such as Opera Della Luna, Carl Rosa Opera, etc. or else from the Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Company - an excellent professional group of players which is put together every year specifically to create productions for the festival.
Derby reflect on their successful festival.
Every evening after the production in the Opera House there is a Festival Club where meals and drink is available and there are cabaret acts and "pot-luck" sing throughs of G&S operettas - this usually goes on until about midnight or even after!. If the production in the Opera House is a repeat then alternative entertainment will be put on in the Paxton Theatre.
Every day there are "fringe" events held both in the morning and afternoon - this can be of almost any type such as a master class by an ex-D'Oyly Carte player, or something similar. Again look at a programme to get the full agenda.
Jean Hindmarsh at one of her "fringe" events
The whole atmosphere in Buxton is wonderful during the festival and it is attended by thousands of people every year from all over this country and the world - some coming over on a regular basis from the USA and Australia.
If you have not been then you are missing out on a wonderful experience.
Please use the menu bar at the top of this page to navigate to the various years.