River Festival

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A celebration of community, art and nature comes to Millennium Place, Coventry on 17 and 18 June with the brand new River Festival. Celebrating the River Sherbourne that flows beneath the city of Coventry, expect live music, theatre, DJs, crafts, dance, poetry and more, all for FREE showcasing work from artists from across the city. 


The first ever River Festival is delivered by a collective of organisations at the heart of the city, coming together to celebrate as we showcase our creative, digital, cultural, environmental and engineering sectors.

On behalf of the Coventry River Cultural Consortium, Craig Ashley, Deputy Head of the School of Art & Design at Coventry University, said 

“We’re thrilled to be working with artists, communities, and our partner organisations to bring the first River Festival to Coventry.  We want to lift the lid on the city’s underground River Sherbourne, celebrating its leading role in the story of Coventry, and championing its relevance in the contemporary city as a site of natural interest and environmental significance.” 


Sarah Allen, Historic Coventry Trust’s Education and Engagement Manager said:

“It’s inspiring to see such an ambitious programme from so many interested individuals and organisations.  We hope this will be the first of many distinctive cultural events around the River over the coming years.” 


Charlotte Ridpath, Warwickshire Wildlife Trust and Sherbourne Valley Project said:

“We are incredibly excited to be able to celebrate the River Sherbourne through such a wide range of creative talent. The river and its wildlife have shaped Coventry and supported generations of people. Now it’s our turn to take better care of the waterway, after all it flows right through the city centre! People can discover more about nature, wildlife and experience how many different organisations have been inspired by it. Maybe you will be too.” 


River Festival announce the following artists who will bring a mix of sound installation, DJ sets, dance, film and theatre to the city centre.  

On Saturday and Sunday, in Millennium Place Ascension Dance present dynamic, river-inspired performances from their senior youth groups SOAR and VERTEX as well as delivering workshops inviting Festival goers to try out moves inspired by parkour, free running and breakdance.  


Ludic Rooms will present Half Truths and Sticklebacks across both days of the Festival. Ludic Rooms will capture watery tales from the people of Coventry. Through archive materials and lost histories, they will encourage Coventry to think once again about the Sherbourne River. They will be inviting audiences to experience their hoard of imagined images and slightly broken whispers of Coventry’s watery past. Exploring folk traditions of a mighty river city that never was.  

Talking Birds’ The Whale will take up residence in Millennium Place across the weekend. Enter through the Whale’s mouth one at a time or in small family groups to experience a witty and charming 3 minute watery themed theatre show, performed by a solo actor just for you. 

Indira, an audio-visual artist based in Coventry, will bring field recording, programming, microcontrollers, DIY Electronics and composed sound using various instruments and found objects to the City Gates on Saturday and Sunday, creating a unique sound installation for the River Festival. 

An indoor Digital Gallery space will screen Coventry-based filmmaker Ben Cook’s 2020 documentary made in partnership with Argentinian artist, Mariana Bollati, and South African producer Pierre Heistein on the Atuel River. The documentary builds awareness of the impact of human consumption and climate change on the river and opens up a discussion on possible solutions. 

One Moment in Time Theatre will be presenting a heartwarming puppet show of The Enormous Turnip for ages 3+, perfect for families. Booking is available online via Eventbrite 

DJ Raymondo will take to the main stage with his funk, soul house to get the Festival pumping on the Sunday afternoon.  Ray has been an integral part of Coventry’s music scene through some of its biggest cultural moments, playing on community radio stations, festival events, including working Craig Charles at HMV Empire.  

Plus staff from The Sherbourne Valley Project will take groups of people to the river’s edge in Palmer Lane and find out a bit about its history, and the project’s plans to improve it.  


The full programme will be announced in the coming weeks, keep an eye on www.warwickshirewildlifetrust.org.uk/riverfest2023 and @WarwickshireWT for more information. You can also sign up to the free Eventbrite to be the first to hear programme updates at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/river-festival-coventry-tickets-639469830477?aff=ebdsoporgprofile 


River Festival Coventry is delivered by Coventry Cultural River Consortium with Warwickshire Wildlife Trust, Historic Coventry Trust, Coventry City Council, Coventry BID, Open Theatre, The Coventry Society and Coventry University.  Funded by Historic England as part of the High Streets Heritage Action Zone, in partnership with the National Heritage Lottery Fund, Arts Council England & the DCMS. 

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