Summer festival kicks off in St Andrews

Samantha Barks performed on Thursday night
Samantha Barks performed on Thursday night

It’s been months in the planning, but this week the outdoor programme of arts festival Byre in the Botanics has finally begun.

The first performance in a packed programme of events, featuring top quality music, drama, film and dance, took place last night (Thursday) when Samantha Barks took to the stage in St Andrews Botanic Gardens to kick start the festival.

A sheltered area of the gardens has been set aside for the next five weeks to host over 20 shows that promise to include something for everyone, whatever your tastes – and that includes the young family members.

Organisers are excited about the project, which is the Byre Theatre’s first venture outside its own walls, as it provides an opportunity to bring shows that the theatre is too small to accommodate to north east Fife.

It also provides a chance to introduce the beautiful gardens in the heart of the town to a new audience, with the hope of attracting new visitors.

Those behind the scenes are also hoping that the weather will be kind in the coming weeks, however although it’s an outdoor festival, those attending can be assured there will be cover should the sun fail to shine.

Proper seats will be available, but there’s also plenty of space to get comfortable and set up your own picnic area.

Professor Michael Downes, who helped organise the event in his former role as artistic director of the Byre, said: “It’s lovely to be collaborating with the gardens because it is a beautiful venue.”

It is hoped by everyone involved that the local community as well as visitors from further afield will get behind the event and show their support during the month.

The programme runs every weekend throughout July and among the highlights are live shows from Fife’s own Barbara Dickson and Rab Noakes, Capercaillie and Jacqui Dankworth.

There will be a double bill from the Olivier award-winning OperaUpClose, ballet from Berlin’s JSLN Dance and Bard in the Botanics’ thrilling new Macbeth on the main stage.

But it’s not just about the live performances in the gardens; the festival features screenings of classic films and productions from Glyndebourne and Shakespeare’s Globe on the big screen.

When it comes to the kids, there’s a chance to see Disney’s ‘The Lion King’ on the big screen and to take part in a special arts and crafts workshop.

For full programme details and to buy tickets for any of the events visit www.standrewsbyreinthebotanics.com.