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Kenilworth Arts Fest

Our top picks among 10 days of arts, one-off gigs, performance and spoken word in Warwickshire's historic town of Kenilworth from Thurs Sept 19 to Sat Sep 28.


Telling Untold Stories: The Guardian’s Amelia Gentleman, awarded Journalist of the Year 2018 after exposing the Windrush Scandal. Photo credit: Sophia Spring

The festival has a strong programme of literary events, celebrating some of the most inspiring and thought-provoking new fiction and non-fiction books released in 2019 including a full weekend of talks, readings and panel discussions on Sat Sep 21 and Sun Sept 22. 

Joining the distinguished line-up of writers is the award-winning human rights campaigner, Caroline Criado-Perez OBE, whose talk about her latest book, Invisible Women, is already sold out! There’s also celebrated author, editor and presenter Nikesh Shukla, speaking about his latest YA novel, The Boxer; novelist & author Kerry Hudson, will be speaking about Lowborn, hailed as ‘one of the most important books of the year’ plus Nathan Filer, a mental health nurse and award-winning author of the international bestseller The Shock of The Fall  on his latest book, The Heartland and The Guardian’s Amelia Gentleman, awarded Journalist of the Year 2018 after exposing the Windrush Scandal.

Other highlights include Candice Carty-Williams and Rosie Price on #MeToo in fiction; a discussion on what its mean to be a Muslim woman in the West today with Mariam Khan, editor of It’s Not About the Burqa anthology, and three contributing authors; and children’s publishing.


Novelist Clare Mackintosh: After the EndKenilworth Library, Fri Sep 27

The multi-award-winning novelist, whose debut novel, I Let You Go, was a Sunday Times best-seller and won the Theakston Old Peculiar Crime Novel of the Year award in 2016. Follow up novels I See You and Let Me Life were also number one bestsellers. Clare will be talking about her latest book, After the End, published in June and signing copies of the book after the event.

6:30pm, £8 concs £6 


Faber at 90 with Toby Faber, Kenilworth Library, Wed  Sep 25

One of the world’s great publishing houses, Faber has been a home to the likes of TS Eliot, Sylvia Plath, Samuel Beckett, William Golding and many, many more distinguished poets, playwrights and novelists. Toby Faber, former managing director of Faber and grandson of founder Geoffrey Faber, tells untold stories behind some of the greatest literature of the twentieth century! 6.30pm, £8 concs £6



New Zealand’s Nadia Reid

Date: Thur Sep 19, 8pm

Venue: St. Nicholas’ Church, High St, Kenilworth

  • Opening the festival will be the critically acclaimed singer-songwriter Nadia Reid, from New Zealand, performing a rare, intimate UK concert in the beautiful surroundings of St Nicholas Church. Celebrated for her unique voice, Nadia has played across the world, appeared on BBC’s Later … with Jools Holland and her album Preservation was named #2 in Mojo’s album of the year list in 2017. 


American jazz pianist Darius Brubeck

Date: Mon Sep 23, 8pm

Venue: St. John’s Church, Warwick Rd, Kenilworth

  • Son of the legendary musician Dave Brubeck, Darius will be bringing his acclaimed Quartet to the festival. Their forthcoming album, due for release in early 2020, was recorded on tour in Poland, where they played to full houses in six cities. £14 concs £12


Emerging folk artists Joshua Burnside and Rosie Carney


Date: Tue Sep 24, 8pm

Venue: Talisman Theatre, Kenilworth

  • An evening of contemporary folk music, featuring two contemporary emerging artists: Joshua Burnside is a singer-songwriter from Northern Ireland; Rosie Carney is a 20-year-old singer-songwriter who was born in England but raised in Donegal, £14 concs £12


Debut show of French singer/ musician Pauline Drand

Date: Wed Sept 25

Venue: Tree House Bookshop, 4 The Square, Kenilworth

  • Drand’s first album, Faits Bleus, was released in late 2018 to critical acclaim appearing in multiple Album of the Year lists in France. A follow up EP, Ô Fortes, was released earlier this year.


A solo recital by Nottingham-born pianist Isata Kanneh-Mason

Photo by Robin-Clewley

 Date: Thur Sep 26, 8pm

Venue: St. John’s Church, Warwick Rd, Kenilworth

  • A finalist in the BBC Young Musician of the Year competition in 2014, and the eldest of the talented Kanneh-Mason family – her brother Sheku played cello at Harry and Meghan’s wedding last year. Isata has performed all over the world including Carnegie Hall and the Barbican. Her debut album, Romance, was released earlier this year to widespread critical acclaim. Isata will be performing a solo recital of pieces by Schumann and Brahms. £14 concs £12


Double bill: Ava and Polish cellist Resina and Brussels based composer Christina Vantzo

Resina and Brussels based composer Christina Vantzo. Photo by Julie-Calbert.

Date: Fri Sep 27, 8pm

Venue: St Nicholas Church, High St, Kenilworth

  • A double bill of cinematic instrumental music, featuring two international duos exploring the boundaries between classical and electronic music. Resina and Christina Vantzou (above), are two successful solo artists. Resina is the alias of Polish cellist Karolina Rec, who has released two critically acclaimed solo albums and Missouri-born, Brussels-based composer and experimental filmmaker Christina Vantzou. Ava (below) are violinist Anna Phoebe and Berlin-based pianist Aisling Brouwer. Both acclaimed composers, the two met in 2016, and a mutual love of writing for film, art and dancer resulted in their debut album, Waves, released in July on One Little Indian Records (home of Bjork). £14 concs £12



For Sama

  •  If Beale Street Could Talk (15), Fri Sep 20, 7.30pm Barry Jenkins’ follow up to the Oscar-winning Moonlight comes in the form of a beautiful adaptation of James Baldwin’s 1974 masterful and deeply moving novel. It’s received multiple award nominations and widespread critical acclaim – Mark Kermode was one of many to award it a rare 5* review. Priory Theatre, Rosemary Hill, Kenilworth.
  • Woman At War (12A), Sat 21 Sept, 8.30pm – A brilliantly dark Icelandic comedy-drama from the masterful Benedikt Erligsson, about a 50-year old choir director who has a song in her heart, a smile on her face and an undercover life as an eco-terrorist! Tree House Bookshop, Kenilworth.
  • For Sama (18), Sun Sep 22, 8pm – Midlands premiere of winner of the prestigious Prix L’Œil d’Or for Best Documentary at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival. A love letter from a young mother to her daughter, the film tells the story of Waad al-Kateab’s life through five years of the uprising in Aleppo, Syria as she falls in love, gets married and gives birth to Sama. Priory Theatre, Rosemary Hill, Kenilworth.
  • Can You Ever Forgive Me? (15), Thur Sep 26, 7.30pm – A black-comedy, expertly directed by Marielle Heller based on the true story of best-selling celebrity biographer Lee Israel, starring Melissa McCarthy and Richard E. Grant. Tree House Bookshop, Kenilworth.
  • Amazing Grace (U) Sat Sep 28, 7.30pm – In 1972, Aretha Franklin performed two concerts over the course of two days at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles. Now, almost 50 years later, Syndney Pollack’s concert documentary has been released for the first time and lets the music do the talking. United Reformed Church, Kenilworth. 

kenilworthartsfestival, Tickets: £6, concs £4.



  • The English premiere of large-scale outdoor art installation The Gramophone, created by Irish artist Donnacha Cahill, 12-3pm – bring your favourite record and hear it like you’ve never heard it before! There’s also a text art installation produced in collaboration with students from Kenilworth School, a free Street Party in Kenilworth’s Old Town on Sept 21 from 11am and an exhibition of work by local artists in St Nicholas’ Church. A raft of professional adult and family-friendly workshops include pinhole photography, informal art sessions, shadow puppet making (5-11 years, Sept 21), cyanotype printing and a workshop with Kenilworth-based mosaic artist Helen Clues is already sold out.



The festival ends in style with an Afterparty at The Almanack on Sat Sep 28 from 9pm with live music from one of the UK’s most exciting emerging soul and r’n’b artists, Bryony Jarman-Pinto, as well drinks, DJs and some dubious dance moves! Free.

For full listings and to book tickets go to kenilworthartsfestival; tickets can also be booked from kenilworthbooks 

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