Pic credit Toby Phillips
Once again, Horsham residents and visitors can look forward to a vibrant town centre programme of over 150 free events, markets, concerts and activities throughout 2020 co-ordinated by Horsham District Council and its many and varied commercial and community partners.
The legacy of 2019’s Horsham District Year of Culture tees up an even more diverse set of events that seek to attract visitors from every sector of the community, engaging with increasing numbers of groups and local businesses.
The primary purpose of the Council’s support is the economic bonus gained from increased footfall and publicity for the town, whilst enabling many business partners to use the town to achieve their own objectives, generating mutual benefits along the way.
A central feature of this year’s events programme will see an increasing focus on sustainability in terms of both content and awareness of the core issues, with the Council working closely with local partners in the field including Kinder Living, Sussex Green Living and others.
Individual event highlights this year include Horsham’s starring role in the national programme of Good Friday Passion Plays entitled ‘One Good Friday 2020’ led by Horsham Churches Together and a re-energised town wide music festival on Easter Monday called ‘Horsham Sounds’ led by a consortium of community partners.
For the first May bank holiday of the year, there will be a full weekend of entertainment. As part of a national celebration of the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War in Europe Horsham will be hosting ‘Horsham’s VE75 Weekend’, including The Broadwood Day of Dance and Horsham’s Bus Rally.
Friday’s VE Bank Holiday on 8 May gives a one off opportunity for the whole community to come together to remember the bittersweet joy of peace felt on 8 May 1945. Already working with QM Studios and Age UK, Horsham District Council are inviting more community groups to step forward to play a part in a special day which will include ‘Winston Churchill’, an ‘East’ Street Party and a 16 piece ‘Glen Miller’ style band finale.
Following their successful introduction in 2019 as part of the Year of Culture, the Spanish festival ‘Feria de Horsham’ returns as does an extension of the Caribbean Day to include Latin America called ‘Carnivale Horsham’ in 2020. The ever popular French Fest will also return.
Later in the year, September’s food and drink weekend returns with Saturday’s ‘The New Big Nibble’, with an increased emphasis on it being a local food show as well as a market place. Sunday’s Little Nibble is being rebranded as ‘The Future Food Show’ with all sorts of healthy and alternative food options on display.
Horsham AmeriCARna is set to take over the town centre and Hop Oast Park & Ride with more ‘cruise throughs’ by a greater variety of vehicles. Plans for Christmas 2020 are to be confirmed and will be subject to evaluations of 2019’s activities and 2020’s available resources.
These highlights are in addition to an amazing variety of other events, markets, bandstand concerts, town trails, exhibitions and street entertainment that all go on throughout the year.
Commenting on the events programme for 2020, Horsham District Council Cabinet Member for the Local Economy Cllr Paul Clarke said:
“I am delighted that we are set to welcome such a broad scope of events and activities to Horsham for 2020. It is good to see so many popular ones making a return, but I am also really pleased that we will be hosting so many new events which are making their debuts this year.
“More than ever, I believe we have something that will appeal to everybody in our new programme. Not only do the events create an extremely engaging experience for residents and visitors of all ages, but they are also key to supporting local businesses and traders who benefit so greatly from being able to showcase their product and services to larger audiences of people.
“Our thanks go out in advance to the many partners we will be working with to help make this impressive programme happen.
“I would encourage as many of you as possible to come along and enjoy what is set to be an amazing year for events and entertainments.”
One event that is not making a return is Horsham Piazza Italia. This event first ran in 2006 over two days with 12 Ferraris each day. Over time the event grew to a peak at Piazza Italia X in 2016 with displays of some 101 Ferraris, bandstand and balcony Romeo & Juliet performances, Gladiators, Granny Tourismo antics, Italian Job Mini cavalcades and many top quality operatic arias along the way.
Unfortunately, many of the voluntary and commercial partners that made up so much of the content of this event are not now available. This has led to the event organisers taking the decision to terminate the event while it retains such a great reputation, allowing available resources to focus on a wider town programme with the many new events.