Hijinx Unity Festival, Caernarfon 28 June to 2 July


Circus, sleepwalkers and suitcases as Hijinx Unity Festival arrives in North Wales.

Watch out for the pink suitcases popping up around Caernarfon next week as the town is taken over by a surprisingly different arts festival.

Spectacular circus, theatre, dance and music acts will fill Caernarfon Castle, Victoria Dock, the Town Square and Galeri Caernarfon as Hijinx Unity Festival returns for another five days packed with performances. Hosted for the first time this year in Caernarfon in partnership with Galeri, the Festival will showcase outstanding inclusive and disability arts performances from Spain, France, Germany, Belgium and across the UK.

The Festival is distinctively different in that all of the companies performing at Hijinx Unity Festival feature artists who have physical or learning disabilities. The Festival was created by Welsh theatre company, Hijinx, to raise the profile of disabled and non-disabled artists working together as equals, and to surprise and delight audiences with truly remarkable performances.

Highlights of the 2017 line up include a weekend of free performances in and around Galeri (Sat 1 July) and on The Maes (Sun 2 July) in the centre of Caernarfon. Areas of the town will be transformed into eye-catching performance spaces, with more pop up venues on The Promenâd and in Palas Print bookshop.

Headlining the weekend are dare-devil French circus artists Cirque Inextremiste with a breath-taking balancing act on The Promenâd. Elsewhere in town, they will be joined by German theatre company Blaumeier-Atelier, Seville-based dance company Danza Mobile, and Hijinx’s own pop-up theatre shows ‘The Pods’, to name but a few acts. Pioneers of accessible theatre for children, Taking Flight Theatre Company will bring a nautical feel to Shakespeare’s The Tempest which will be performed all around Victoria Dock.

Join Unity @ Castell Caernarfon on Fri 30 June for four jam-packed hours of inclusive street theatre, flamenco and contemporary dance from Germany, Spain and Great Britain.

The Festival also offers a ticketed programme of performances at Galeri from 28 June – 1 July, including: a dystopian musical misadventure produced by Hijinx and Theatr Clwyd; raw and un-tamed physical theatre from Belgian company Theater Stap; and a stunning flamenco double-bill from Seville-company Danza Mobile.

Another highlight of the free performance programme is physical theatre show, Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger, produced by Hijinx in collaboration with Frantic Assembly (performances 30 June & 1 July in Galeri). Frantic Assembly are the renowned Movement Directors of the Broadway and West End hit show The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. The 20 minute performance features a 20 strong cast of disabled and non-disabled actors, and will be the culmination of a two-week training residency under the tutelage of Frantic Assembly.

Through a high quality programme of performing arts, the Festival promotes positive images of disability and social inclusion to audiences. Since its creation in Cardiff in 2008, it has grown to attract over 20,000 visitors a time from across Wales, the UK and Europe.

15 learning disabled actors from across North Wales, who are trained by Hijinx at their academy in Prestatyn, will be at the centre of a number of Festival performances. They will be joined by fellow Hijinx Academy actors from South and West Wales, for a celebration of inclusion that takes place in Caernarfon for the first time this year.

Welsh Government, Economy Secretary, Ken Skates, said:
“As we celebrate the Year of Legends in Wales this year, the Unity Festival promises to be a legendary event for north Wales – bringing the past to life at some of our iconic historical sites and giving people the platform to create their own legend during 2017. I’m delighted that the Welsh Government has been able to support the growth of this event.”

Ben Pettitt-Wade, Hijinx’s Artistic Director, commented:
We are thrilled to be taking the Festival to Caernarfon this summer. The overwhelmingly positive reaction of the public, local community groups and schools to the Festival over the past nine years in Cardiff has been an inspiration and a catalyst for moving it north. We can’t wait to introduce the work of outstanding disabled performers to audiences in North Wales, and above all, provoke thought and discussion about the ability and potential of people who live with a disability.”

The award winning creative enterprise centre, Galeri in Caernarfon is the official venue partner of the Festival, GaleriCaernarfon.com/eng/unity-festival.html

Steffan Thomas, Marketing Director at Galeri, commented:
Galeri is delighted to be welcoming Unity Festival, one of Europe’s largest inclusive festivals, and the only one of its kind in Wales – to Caernarfon! What a great opportunity to promote positive images of disabilities whilst encouraging inclusivity within the arts, bringing international innovative artistic events to Galeri and the streets of Caernarfon!

Thanks to funding from Welsh Government’s Major Events Unit, the Arts Council of Wales, Cadw, Caernarfon Town Council and Gwyn & Mary Owen, Unity Festival is able to relocate to North Wales for the first time. The new location opens up opportunities to bring Hijinx’s inclusive ethos to new audiences, school communities and artistic collaborators in North West and North Wales and the North of England.

Location: Caernarfon, Gwynedd
Dates: 28 June 7pm to 2 July 4pm
Web: http://www.hijinx.org.uk/unity/
Bookings: http://www.galericaernarfon.com/eng/unity-festival.html
Phone bookings: 01286 685 250
Flyer: RawFfest 2017 flyer