“The Romsey Festival is here!” This will be the pronouncement from chairman Dick Hewett at the Festival’s launch event in the Town Hall this evening, (Friday).

The first week of the festival features exhibitions, history, music, dance, and even cookery. On three evenings next week local restaurants are offering a “Gourmet Experience”, with Naz’s demonstrating the preparation of an Indian dish on Monday (July 7), Silks providing supper after a cookery display on Wednesday, and Bertie’s joining forces with Heatons Wines on Thursday for a new look at salads, seasonal bites and wines. All these can be booked direct with the restaurants themselves.

On Wednesday the festival committee have arranged a barn dance at the Crosfield Hall, with professional caller and musicians. The event is being sponsored by the Mayor of Test Valley and Basepoint Centres Ltd. Evening concerts feature heavily during the week, with Romsey Choral Society on Saturday evening, followed swiftly by the Michelmersh Silver Band’s outdoor concert on Sunday in the grounds of the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens (see left), and Romsey Singers with an evening of sacred music on Tuesday in the Abbey URC.

Meanwhile lunchtime recitals featuring talented local young musicians are being held throughout the week, with Jenna Gover and Anna Ter Haar, flautists, on Monday at 1pm in the Abbey URC, followed by three lunchtime recitals in the Abbey: Con Musica on Tuesday, the Demelge Quartet on Wednesday, and Rachel Maxey on Thursday.

With all these relatively lively and noisy events, the chance for quieter reflection is offered with the Art of Prayer, each weekday morning from Monday in the Abbey URC at 9.30am, whilst from tomorrow (Saturday) a series of talks will be provided by experienced guides giving Insights Into The Abbey at 3pm each day.

These are just a selection of the many events being held during the first week of the Festival.

Many of these events have free entry, with donations welcomed, whilst tickets for those with an entrance fee are available through the website, romseyfestival.org, or from the Romsey Tourist Information Centre, 01794 512987.

Click onto our leisure section to find more festival previews.