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The Old French word festival (adj.) means “suitable for a feast; magnificent, joyful, happy”. That seems an appropriate description for the week ahead.

We have an amazing programme for you this year.


Ian Swatman has surpassed himself again by securing a wonderful range of acts and we are delighted that the incredible, supremely talented Jess Gillam, who has graced the St Edmund’s Festival before, is returning as our headline performer for 2023.

I am especially excited about The Counterfeit Stones. I first saw them perform twenty years ago (!) and am a huge fan. They are brilliant entertainers and musicians - you are in for a treat.

And if that wasn’t enough, our programme also includes the wonderful Ray Gelato Giants, a community singing day with Mark De-Lisser, an Art Workshop with Kevin Dalton Johnson and Japanese Bookbinding with Esther Miles.

Throw in the St Edmund’s Big Band, drama productions of Grimm’s Fairy Tales, the Pupil Cabaret, Chelsea Football Fest, Swing Dancing and “Icons” (a name that reminds me of a Hertfordshire nightclub I frequented in late 1980s) and you have a feast of entertainment fit for a King. “Icons” includes a tribute to the King by the way – not Charles III, Elvis.

None of this would be possible without our Festival Partners Paul Roberts Canterbury and The Canterbury Auction Galleries whose advice and encouragement continues to be essential. I am immensely grateful for their support and for the generosity of all our other sponsors and friends. My thanks also go to Sarah Rees, our Festival Manager, for her tireless efforts and organisational prowess.

So sit back and enjoy the “magnificent, joyful and happy” Festival on the Hill 2023.


Edward O’Connor, Head


 "As the St Edmund’s Festival continues to lead the way in another startling display of home-grown talent and a fascinating programme of events, it highlights the place of creativity in all our futures." 


Professor John Harle, The Guildhall School of Music & Drama, London

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St Edmund’s School Canterbury is a leading independent school in Kent for children aged 3 – 18 and enjoys an enviable reputation in the arts.

The inaugural St Edmund’s Festival was planned and delivered with a clear and single aim: to celebrate the fantastic talents of young people by bringing to Canterbury an event as new and fresh as it was creative and innovative with a line-up of world-class artists. 

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