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Here is the Festival

As you read this the 2004 Hebden Bridge Arts Festival is either about to begin or is already under way, in which case you might already have missed some of the great treats on offer. And if you haven't already booked, well, sorry but it's too late for some events which are totally sold out.

One inevitable fully booked house is the Bloody Big Soul Band night at the Picture House, with Doris and the Dinner Ladies, but if you haven't got tickets don't worry because this year there is a terrific alternative opportunity to dance in the aisles (well, in front of the stage actually) as Saturday evening sees the visit of the spectacular Bollywood Brass Band with its Banghra drummers and Hindi film back-projections. Great to dance to and great to watch!

But before that - there's fun for all the family at the Family Fun Day at Riverside School on Saturday from 10 till 4 with crafts, music, and other creative activities. This is followed by a tea-time treat across the road at the Trades Club (5.30p.m.), with the former Edinburgh Festival production of "Tea with Mrs Pankhurst". Watch the celebrated suffragette family at tea and participate in their scheming at this intimate and revealing glimpse into what really happened.

What better way to spend a summer Sunday afternoon than to listen to the band in a lovely country setting like Lumb Bank at Heptonstall. The poetry of Herbert Lomas and Chrissie Gittings, read by the poets themselves, is supported by the playing of the Hebden Bridge Junior Band in the garden (ticket only; from 3 p.m.)

On Sunday evening, Milltown's creator John Morrison will be launching a new book! Not more mealy-mouthed locally based humour, you'll be glad to hear, but a stunning collection of photographs which captures the many faces of the South Pennines throughout the seasons. "Moods of the BrontĪ Moors" will be launched at the Canalside Gallery, Machpelah Works, at 8pm on Sunday June 20th. Entrance is free, and special prizes will be on offer for anyone who appears in the book and who turns up on the night.

Across town at the Canalside is an auction of work in aid of Treesponsibility. Items include an aboriginal dream painting which can be seen at www. treesponsibility.com.

And round off the evening with the fantastic "Rhythm and Fire Spectacular" on the marina at 10pm.

Monday continues the global artistic journey begun in Bollywood, moving east with a musical excursion from Penan to Penang at Artsmill, and off to Berringden Brow with Jill Robinson at the Canalside.

The travelling just goes on and on! Tuesday brings an exciting account of snake hunting in Montserrat at the Little Theatre, and a folk/roots night with Batinka at the Canalside with music from all over, including "inspirational Klezmer tunes and Romanian dance rhythms".

If it's Wednesday it must be Tibet! Or Mytholmroyd. Both actually, as the monks of the Tashi Lhunpo monastery make an eagerly awaited return to the Festival with their scintillating programme of dance, music and chants, in Mytholmroyd Parish Church. Meanwhile at the Hebden Bridge Little Theatre writer Ruth Rosen offers an insight into "poet, painter, engraver and prophet" William Blake, the "Man without a Mask"

Moving on, and back much further in time, on Thursday afternoon for "The Legend of Perseus", local lad Adam Bampton-Smith's one man show at the Little Theatre. And we stay local on Thursday evening as the seven Calder valley singers who make up Cantorelli work their choral magic at Heptonstall church, in a programme ranging from Tudor anthems and Montiverdi madrigals to Dvorak and Arvo Part.

The middle weekend of the Festival is Piano Weekend, and this kicks off on Friday 25th with a recital by the brilliant Young Choon Park at Heptonstall Parish Church. But hey-by then another edition of this bulletin will be on the stands, and if I spent too long telling you about the incredible range of performances on offer during Festival Fortnight there would be no space to remind of of the full programme of Exhibitions, not to mention open studios and gardens.

Chief among the gallery highlights must be the Arts Council funded "Poetry Shop" in the Festival office on Albert Street, and the Paula Rego "Jane Eyre" and Nursery Rhymes" collections at Artsmill. But do make time for the Mytholmroyd Artists' Exhibition and Sale at St Michael's Church Hall during this opening weekend, and shows by Northlight Artists in Melbourne Street and wood and ceramics at Bernard McNally's shop on Market Street, each weekend of the Festival.

As ever, there is a full programme of open gardens and studios each weekend, and full details of these, together with a map, are available at the Festival Office. You must agree this year's Hebden Bridge Arts Festival offers "something for everyone", and to find out more, including times, prices, booking arrangements and directions, check out the little pink and black programme, or check in to the Box Office on Albert Street ( phone 01422 842684) which is open daily from 10 till 5 (12 -5 Sundays). It's your town and your Festival, so enjoy!

25th May

Hebden Bridge Arts Festival