Dear Mummy, Basingstoke is my hometown and we are lucky that there’s always lots to see and do. This summer from the 14 July to 13 August 2017 Made in Basingstoke Festival is happening across the town and comprises of four themed weeks entitled Create, Taste, Discover and Make. The Festival will showcase the town’s artists, foods, attractions and people through a comprehensive programme of daily activities to be staged at key attractions, shops, museums and shopping centres across the town.
We were lucky enough to head down on the opening week of the festival for the ‘Create’ week and visited The Malls and Festival Place, our local shopping centres to try out some free activities. On the day we visited we saw some local craft stalls selling handmade products from fine drawings to beautiful ceramics underneath white marquees.
My mummy had the opportunity to participate in an Eco Chalk Workshop at The Malls, which also played host to live music and entertainment from The Breeze. She practiced upcycling furniture using the very versatile chalk paint from Frenchic and was show techniques from the experts.
The Festival also helps celebrate the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen, who was born and raised in the area, with various events taking place including a walking tour, a new exhibition at the Willis Museum and Sainsbury Gallery and a new ‘Sitting with Jane’ free public arts trail and associated app featuring 24 ‘Book Benches’, each designed and painted by a different professional artist. On our walk around Basingstoke town centre we spotted at least 5 of these book benches. The arts trail is on till the end of August so no doubt we will spot some more on our travels!
We had fun making cards with Paperchase at their pop-up stand in Festival Place and it was great being taught how to stamp and paper cut with helpful staff on hand to show me. I even made a birthday card for my mummy. Over the summer holidays there will be lots more workshops and pop-up events happening in Festival Place – check out the Made in Basingstoke website for more details.
We had fun visiting one of our favourite shops in Festival Place called All Our Own Crafts, which we’ve written about before. This pop-up shop showcases around 40 artists work from the local community. My bedroom is full of Stephanie Block’s beautiful rainbows. What’s nice is that the artists all volunteer to help run the shop and workshops throughout the Made In Basingstoke Festival. I had fun colouring in while my folks browsed the store. We’re looking forward to it opening up around Christmas time again as it’s a fantastic shop to buy handmade gifts from.
We stopped for some lunch at Pizza Express in Festival Square and sat outside to watch the world go by. Its one of my favourite restaurants and it never fails to disappoint me with the outstanding food and service. We all indulged in pizza with sides and my mummy has never seen me clear a plate quick enough. Afterwards we walked around the lovely square and looked at the small garden, fountains and the sandpit for kids before walking up the hill to the Top of the Town.
We visited the Willis Museum to see the fascinating ‘Cirque Exotique’ art and colour exhibition and spotted another book bench! There was a lovely craft room set up for little ones and a great exhibition showcasing the history of Basingstoke. The museum tea room downstairs was very popular and too busy for us to visit on our recent visit. We can’t wait to visit the remaining weeks of Made In Basingstoke and if you are local to Hampshire we’d definitely recommend a visit to Basingstoke this summer. But here’s a snippet of some of the things coming up.
Taste Week (21-27 July), which will feature free cookery demonstrations by celebrity chefs Phil Vickery and Jean-Christophe Novelli at The Malls Shopping Centre on Saturday 22 and Sunday 23 July. There will also be a Taste Market focused on local produce and businesses as well as a Jane Austen cream tea party at the Red Lion Hotel.
Discover Week (28 July-3 August) including a ‘Summer Raincoat’ craft session tying into the town’s heritage connections with Thomas Burberry, as well as an array of events celebrating Jane Austin (see above) and a Punch and Judy Festival. Visitors will also have the chance to experience a vintage makeover during a ‘Fashion in the 50’s’ masterclass, at the town’s Vintage Treasures shop.
Make Week (4-13 August) there will be a range of free events for families, from the Summer of Literacy Reading Challenge, to Charlie’s story time and children’s crafts at the Basingstoke Discovery Centre. There will also be rides, slides and workshops and the opportunity to get artistic and create ‘selfie’ masks, perfect for sharing on social media, at The Malls Shopping Centre.
For more information and a full schedule of events visit www.madeinbasingstoke.co.uk and follow @inbasingstoke and use #LoveBasingstoke #MadeInBasingstoke on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
Love Bella x