Previous Festivals

Festival Feast and the Future

23 April – 12 May 2019
Feast your eyes on the many Encounters!!
The joy of life in all its fullness through
Music, Art, Comedy, Drama, Dance and Film    
84 + EVENTS in 44 VENUES 

Thank you to everyone who supported us with sponsorship, hosting events, performing, painting, leading workshops, stewarding, refreshments, driving, brochure distribution, donations, buying tickets, leaving comments and telling friends and neighbours about the Festival.

So we can  provide even better festivals in the future, do send us feedback of your encounters during the festival – 

‘Reflections and Moving Forward’ Meeting will be held in the Music Room, Christ Church on Tuesday 24 September at 7.30pm.  If you want to see more about the Festival events you missed or be part of the organising team in the future, do come along. 
Cake always a highlight!

Soul Sanctuary Gospel Choir Finale

Wow! What an evening! Thank you so much for inviting me along to such a fabulous concert. I really enjoyed the performance. Congratulations on a hugely successful event! Alex Chalk MP

Life in all its fullness celebrated at Christian Arts Festival

Diversity in Abundance

Images: The Art of Soul-Scaping Workshop, Louis Parsons; No Abiding City -Bishop Michael Lewis Archbishop-Primate of the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East Designate and Bishop Rachel, our Patron; Sermon Slam; Alex Chalk MP and Louis Parsons, visual artist; Christian Musicians’ Collective; Jonathan Veira; Elim Sound Concert and Prophetic Artist; Scratch Gospel Choir; Jacobs Well Productions ‘Family Ties’ Concert; St. Peter’s Church, Winchcombe Knit and Natter Group.

Workshops ranging from a week long Icon Painting course to IPad Music making and Pyrography for children and a practical workshop on Byzantine music and chanting. There were talks by experts on a variety of subjects from Tolkien’s ‘Lord of the Rings’ to PJ Crook’s new triptych altarpiece for St Michael’s Church in Cheltenham;
10 art exhibitions took place across Cheltenham and one in Gloucester in galleries, sacred, and community spaces. Exhibitions ran for 10 to 14 days and included competition entries for school’s art competition, work by C3 Church community (3rd festival running), and an invitation to a former village church in Bentham now full of Greek Icons.
Our music stream was hugely successful. Concerts abounded ranging from Major Pipeworks showcasing the recorder, Elim Sound worship music: “it was instructive as well as enjoyable and exhilarating.”
Comedy nights and performances also made audiences cry with laughter offering an ‘open mike’ slot for wanabe commedians.

Art Exhibitions and Workshops

Holy Apostles new Cafe and Community Hall, Garden’s Gallery, St. Peter’s Church, Winchcombe

Icon Painting Course and Icons and Taize evening:
‘Praying with your eyes’

New Contemporary Drama – The Sower: Encounters with Jesus

The Festival commissioned a contemporary drama by a new writer, performed by amateur community cast auditioned and rehearsed in the run up to the festival with 2 well received performances
Superb, excellent, really enjoyed it. The fact a woman played the part of Jesus actually added to it”, “the event was thought-provoking and inspirational – wonderful cast so evidently enjoying themselves!”

Have a Go Art Day with 5 Artist Leaders & Doodles 2019 Festival mascot

4front Theatre – Fisherman’s Tail

4front Theatre 3 performances of Fisherman’s Tail, interactive storytelling and hearty songs for 6 primary schools

“I was very impressed with the performance. 4front Theatre pitched it well for the children, kept it very slick from the very first moment to the last. Everyone was engaged and despite the number of primary school aged pupils in thehall, no member of staff had to correct any pupil!”

Riverside Performing Arts Company

Schools based programme working with around 200 pupils at St Marks school for 5 days culminating in performance for parents at neighbouring C3 Church.
Feedback from the head teacher:
“On behalf of all the staff and pupils of St. Mark’s C.E Junior
School I just wanted to say a huge THANK YOU to both yourself and the
Riverside Arts Performing group. The children had a wonderful week and the
parents were in raptures about the afternoon performance with lots of ooohs
and aaaahs!! Thank you so much for securing the funding to allow our children to benefit from such an amazing opportunity.”

Poetry Slam workshops and performance engaging 160 pupils from 3 schools

Festival of Stars in West Cheltenham

Christian Arts Festival 2018

Magical, the stuff dreams are made of – there just had to be a supernatural force at work
Our Festival of Stars day on Saturday 16 June
An Almighty Power, far greater than all us  put together, grinning from Polaris to Betelgeuse!

A key theme from the compères was unique gifts – and all were on display in buckets overflowing.  Whether it was Building the Site, Performing, Feeding and Taking Care of Visitors, Providing Children’s Games, Festival Sparklies, Christian Message, Sound and Electricity, PR, Publicity, Compèring, Stewarding, Judging, Photography, Graffiti Wall Collective, Social Media, Refuse Collection, Bunting Decoration or Festival Advice –  the list goes on.

The Church of God of Prophecy Gospel Choir from Gloucester was the perfect opener, up-beat and uplifting. Children ‘drumming for the Stars’ was the cutest thing, 4 – 10 year olds who succeeded in making those pauses on time together!  Christ Church School with ISingPoP sang out with gusto lyrics of Lord’s love for everyone, their families loved the comedy and Magic of Tom Elliott.  The Open Mic Competition was a showcase of 6 talented Stars in the making – we felt compelled to add two more prizes. Out of the Ashes’ jazz and ritzy blues infused with faith testimony from Penny the leader got everyone toe-tapping. Young performers from the Wilson Collective gave us some smooth and moody classics to calm the mood mid-afternoon.

Graffiti Wall ‘brighten up your neighbourhood’ and Edufun workshops promoting cultural awareness were oversubscribed

The Highlight had to be all those gorgeous ‘little beings’ on the stage during the Strays Finale, dancing energetically until 10.30pm –  they captured the essence of what it was all about – a platform for budding talent, joyfully having fun with mature gifted performers to inspire – all about sharing with family, friends and belonging to a wonderful community.
The food was mega SENSEational:  Hema’s Vegetarian Indian Street Food and Mo’s Sushi.
Such Happiness – For all who were there, memories made for a long time to come.

Do check out our amazing highlight archive below from 2017
22 April – 7 May (Young People’s Workshops 18 – 22 April)

Graffiti Wall Youth Event
one of the many stimulating and inspiring events for young people during Christian Arts Festival 2017 All about having fun while learning new skills.

As you see, the 3 local artists and loads of kids really did ‘Brighten up their Neighbourhood’ and made a huge splash with vibrant colour and imagery to celebrate this year’s Festival and put it on the map in Cheltenham.

Plans are afoot for further creativity in West Cheltenham in June 2018. Watch this space!

The Big Sing was a fantastic event with Musical Director David Ogden returning for the second year through popular demand. Bishop Robert Springett of Tewkesbury and Area Dean of Cheltenham Tudor Griffiths opened the Festival at this thrilling launch with 600 singers and a large orchestra. Christians, non-churchgoers, all faiths and none took part in the various Community Choirs. A collaboration on a large scale bringing joy and hope, uplifting the audience in well-known songs, hymns and original work especially created for this years Wings theme.

Journey Through Conflict
Sell-out event a second year running with Major-General Andy Salmon CMG OBE – the last British General in Basra after three campaigns spanning 19 years of turmoil in Iraq. An exploration of conflict set against a backdrop of 3 works Art and suffused with live Piano Improvisations. A story of communities and faiths uniting to further peace and reconciliation.
With Call to Prayer by Ismail Ginwalla MBE

Jazz Rouge at All Saints Church.
What a setting in this mini cathedral of the Arts and Crafts movement on the 1st day of Cheltenhams Jazz Festival – Classic ballads, infectious Latin American rhythms and smooth French chic!

Dip in Art Workshops
took place at Christ Church, St. Barnabas, St. Gregory’s and St. Paul and St. Stephen, Gloucester preparing amazing artwork for the Festival.
Wow! Made in God’s image our Almighty Creator, how much potential for creativity we found out we have.
All to be enjoyed by other along this years Art Trail.
Wings – Collaborative Textile Art Quilt
was created with many churches, craft and quilter groups contributing their original textile art pieces with a traditional quilt border.  On display at various venues during the Festival and plans for showing the piece at the Cathedral in the future.

‘Worship is a patchwork quilt’– a whole in which the many become one while keeping their individual identities.  A patchwork quilt in the vast inter-dependent patchwork of creation’

Tree of Faith
is a collaborative piece of art that brought together Muslim and Christian women from Gloucester to give expression to our faith alongside each other while getting to know one another. Meeting over a period of 4 months, we shaped leaves that represented memories and filled our tree with meaningful texts and crafts.






The Mark Drama was the unexpected blessing of the festival

16 actors from 9 churches across Cheltenham

Our project coincided with issues on a local and international level that seemed to show a world pulling further apart, such as the inauguration of Pres. Trump in the USA, a controversy at Gloucester cathedral around exhibition of multi-faith art and the Westminster attack. Yet, our meetings on a Saturday afternoon were moments of conversation, laughter and creativity that left us energised and ready to take on the next week.



The Mark Drama


The whole of the Gospel of Mark in the round in 90 mins

No Props  No Costumes  No Professional Actors

Directed by Andrew Page – 110 productions throughout the British Isles



Apart from producing a beautiful exhibit, we formed friendships that go beyond this project. We have already planned further meetings and ways to continue our creative bonds – a rounders match and a Big Iftar meal within Ramadan for a start. We hope to extend the blessing that we have received from this project with other off-shoots as we take the Tree of Faith further afield.





An eyewitness account of the most extraordinary man who ever lived


London Community Gospel Choir stunned everyone, all 600 of ‘SOLD OUT’ Finale, at Trinity.

The audience danced until they dropped but still wanted more!