Serai (a place for coming together of travelling caravans)
The Wye Serai - the main performance and activity space created around three intriguing caravns, of 'Curiosities & Hydrosities', 'Fact & Wonder' and 'Myths & Legends', with a 'River A&E Laboratory' and a great Samovar brewing up tea. Add the Water Ones wrangling in a comic chaos of pouring and spilling, singing and dacncing, bringing the rivers and waters of the world to you.
The Water Ones, an intriguing cast of river characters - hermits, fishers, washerwomen, poachers and musicians opened the Festival. At their first Wye Serai encampment 100s indulged in their mysterious water rites and enjoyed music, circus, aerial dance and comic performance. River Carnival lanterns and music heralded the arrival of the Great Samovar. A magical torchlit procession came downstream with a huge illuminated heron. Fire was brought from the depths to ignite the great tea making Samovar. Tuba, drums and saxophones accompanied the specially assembled Festival Choir and local musicians. As the Water Ones elevated our spirits with mesmerising ritual and liquid nonsense, the banks of the river came alive with a spectacular fireworks display with fountains of light over waters of the Wye.
Bishops Meadow, Hereford
A full day of fun was had with the Hereford River Carnival. Street processions, amazing puppet creations, water rituals and aqua play, music, dance, food and drink, ending with a colourful flotilla of craft on the Wye and a duck race. The Water Ones washed away their dreams and bathed for the opening of the first Wye Serai. The three caravans opened their doors for all visitors, convivially hosted by the Water Ones, and the River A&E Laboratory started conducting comic river health checks with serious intentions for the Arts and Environment (A&E). The Water Ones continued their water wrangling in a comic chaos of pouring, splashing, prancing, spilling, and singing.
Rope Walk, Ross on Wye
The travelling Wye Serai flung open its doors as the heavens opened, pouring extra water on the wayward Water Ones and their surging stories and performances celebrating water, life, rivers, streams, washing up, teas and tears. There were evocative dances, spillages, songs and silliness accompanied by the George Choir from Newnham and the Festival street band. Mr Cherry, The Documenter, pictured right, was checking passports and recording all and sundry around the Bedouin Tent, Food Stalls and much, much more. There was also Ross Beer Fest at the Rowing Club, the Ross Canoe Club 60th anniversary celebration on the river and further fair activity beside the Hope and Anchor.
Village Hall, Bishopswood
The whole village community enjoyed pirate celebrations over a watery breakfast and the Water Ones ceremonially launched downstream in canoes with the Festival Flags.
Lydbrook Tump, Lydbrook
The Bank Holiday fun continued at the packed annual riverside Tump Fair. The Water Ones arrived by canoe greeted by the local choir and the Giant Samovar brewing potions. Alongside the River A&E Laboratory and the Caravan of Myths and Legends, Lydbrook Band performed a special concert. There were also stalls and singing in the Garden Café. It was a great day out for all the family.
Redbrook Bridge, Redbrook
The sound installation by audio-visual artist Dan Fox evolved with the sounds, voices and surprising noises of locals young and old. It enchanted hundreds as they crossed the bridge over the Wye at Redbrook.
Redbrook schoolchildren visited the installation and their voices were recorded and became part of the interaction as the bridge was crossed. The Water Ones and Mini Serai visited Redbrook and the public had a chance to see the Caravans and interact with the River Festival Ensemble.
Old Station Tintern
The Samovar and Water ones were on hand to provide tea and entertainment to visitors to Old Station Tintern. Kathy Hinde's art installation 'Luminous Birds' and '1000 Birds' were launched in the evening with the Water Ones performing a magical and graceful illuminated spectacle by the bank of the Wye to the songs of The George Choir.
Monmouth Town Centre
The River characters wandered through Monmouth town with their watery spillings and silllieness. The Articulture conference was held at Shire Hall and the A&E Health Check Laboratory was staioned in Blestium Street.
Monmouth, Vauxhall Fields
The sun shone on Vauxhall Fields and crowds were entertained by music, dance and performance. The Festival Band (combining members of Lydbrook Band and the Festival Trio), Monmouth Town Band and the Festival Choir provided enchanting musical interludes. Articulture's three innovative dance commissions were enjoyed together with Engage Youth Cicus perfoming an amazing gymnastic programme...between the descending downpours! Young members from he Savoy Theatre travelled through the area with Mr Cherry entertaining the crowd and the day culminated in a magical torch procession into the mist with music and fireworks.
In glorious sunshine a special Wye Valley River Festival mini Serai event in conjunction with Forest Research helped people find out more about the health of our river and the woodland on its banks. Noted ecologist Dr George Peterken informed visitors about about everything to do with trees and the woodland ecology. There was fantsatic food from the Sixteen Community Cafe, Cleford and storytelling, river-dipping, watery woodland facts and merriment! The Slaughters is the Forestry Commission riverside meadow just downstream from Symonds Yat East and the Rapids and upstream of the Biblins Bridge. Most peopled walked or cycled either from Symonds Yat East, Yat Rock (Map pdf) or from Monmouth up the Peregrine Path ( Map pdf)
Wye Valley Sculpture Garden, Tintern
The Art of Sustainability: Rivers, Local meets Global - Talk
A live link to Brazil with Professor Henrique Chaves in conversation with Simon Evans from the Wye and Usk Foundation kept going for 2 hours! A facinating dicussion revolved around the similarlities and differences between our rivers and cultures. Similalry facinating discussion then took place over beer, cider and pizza accompanied by live music.
It seemed like the whole village joined in on the banks of the Wye for a great day out. Alongside the Wye Serai, with the Samovar and the Water Ones up to their usual slippery tricks, there were a series of local bands performing, games, food and a festival bar. As evening approached, an amazing procession of about 150 fire-torch bearers processed through the village and down to the river’s edge where choirs and musicians enchanted the river. Wishes collected through the day were launched into to river during a pyrotechnics display to bless the waters of the Wye.
The travelling Wye Serai gathered for the final time for a fun filled afternoon of stalls, music and activities celebrating water stories and the final servings from the Samovar. Performances from the Forest of Dean Male Voice Choir, St John's on the Hill School junior choir, Lydbrook Band, Fiona Frank trio and Engage Youth Circus were enhanced by the stunning views overlooking the Wye and the Severn. The cast & crew shared a Beast Feast with many of the public joining in. As dusk approached the Festival Choir heralded the final antics of the Water Ones, before the lighting of the river fire sculpture.
For more information; follow on Twitter: @wyebeauty #wyevalleyriverfestival; like us on our River Festival Facebook page or pick up a River Festival programme at the event or Creative Map and Guide from local tourist attractions and information centres.
Esther and Henry Rudge, of Ballingham Court Farm, have been presented with the Wye Valley AONB Farming Award trophy for the third time, at the Monmoouthshire Show.
Entries are being invited for the 2018 Wye Valley AONB Farming Awards, celebrating landonwers who make an outstanding contribution to the landscape.