1978 – First one: Shakespeare in the Castle tilting yard by the New Shakespeare Company From Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre
1979/80 – Comprehensive Arts programme – inc David Hockney & John Bratby in Arun Art Centre
1980 – Arundel Festival Society: Duke of Norfolk is President, VP’s are Chair of ADC, Mayor, plus 3 others; Management Committee led by Judith Buckland; large admin team (inc manager of “Heavy Brigade”); High profile sponsors plus patrons.
1982 – Theatre (cast included Kate O’Mara) moved to the lower lawn of Castle, Festival Patrons Club launched with £50 annual subscription
1983 – Town Activities Committee: Mayor is President with Don Ayling as Chair later & Bill Beere. Friends sub added @£5 pa
1984 – Format develops – Quality Music, Art & Drama plus community events. Events included Shakespeare, Jazz, classical music in St Nicholas Church & Nigel Kennedy in the Great Drawing Room, Arundel Castle (sponsors inc Body Shop, M&S, Southern Arts & patrons)
1985 – Follies, Trust Players at WWT and an exhibition of watercolours by Sir Hugh Casson at Arun Art Centre. Music inc Julian Lloyd Webber. Many community events. One central box office.
1986 – Still attracting big names: Derek Jacobi, George Melly.
1988 – First mention of Festival Fringe with input from Chamber of Commerce: Street entertainment plus plus plus.
1990 – American ground used for performances.
1990 – “Festival at its best” The Times. At this time events took place in Boxgrove, Parham House, Dorset House School, Littlehampton Parish Church, Champs Hill, a marquee in the Castle as well as venues in town. The Festival has an Artistic Director, and with main sponsors a new production of a Shakespeare play was produced each year.
2000 – Abba & Queen – tribute bands appear for the first time
2002 – Silver Jubilee Festival – Judith Buckland steps down as Chair & reflects on putting on some events on the August bank holiday weekend to “creating an arts festival in a parkland site”.
Amazing contacts from across the art world made many things possible – Sir David Frost, Lord Harewood then Chair of ENO, etc etc. Street theatre started as a way to introduce international culture with groups. Largely helped by their recruitment of the Heavy Brigade. Supported by major sponsors: NWB, BAA, EDF, etc etc as well as Arts Council.
2005 – Last year for Arundel Festival Society, after the Festival it winds down. Arundel Castle ensures all creditors paid off.
2006 – New festival committee headed by Duke of Norfolk, limited events at Castle all other events are Fringe & “Madfest” (inc Gallery Trail, Theatre Trail and Festival Music for the first time by Nick Plumley). Separate box offices for each venue/event. New Ltd company formed for the Festival.
2008 – New committee again with Penny Hadley & Justin Williams as co-chairs, James Stewart as Treasurer. One brochure incorporating all events plus Town Fair Day at Football Club for local community.
2010 – Charitable status gained.
2012 & 2015 – New committee again with same format.
2016 – Arundel Festival wins Sussex Life Festival of the year
2017 – Festival Fundraiser in July becomes a ‘mainstay’ in the Arundel social calendar
2018 – Dragon Boat Races for the first time
2019 – Party by the river, Dramatic Truth Ballet Theatre, Happy’s Circus for the first time.