Derby Feste Line Up Announced


Festé announces its programme for 2023 with spectacular outdoor circus and dance, dazzling acrobatics, and the return of its iconic procession, across Derby City locations from 22-23 September. 

Festé is excited to announce a programme that is packed full of immersive, innovative, and ground-breaking work showcased across the city of Derby for a whole range of audiences of all ages.

Attracting over 30,000 visitors to Derby, Festé has been a flagship outdoor arts festival for the East Midlands since its inauguration in 2007. Now in its 15th anniversary, Festé has built a reputation for presenting work of national and international recognition for audiences to experience and delight in.

Brought together by Déda, with support from Derby’s key cultural partners, Festé 23 returns with acts that dance vertically down the Silk Mill tower; 20ft high figures; giant wheels and whales; stunning visual projections; fire breakdancing, and the return of community procession, only bigger and with some surprises along the way for visitors.

In response to the ongoing cost of living crisis currently in the UK, nearly all of the performances at this year’s Festé are going to be free of charge. This ensures that everyone whatever their circumstances have access to exceptional experiences across the weekend.

“Festé unfurls again this year across the city like a flower opening to the sunshine. From huge international and national acts to the return of Festé’s community procession, it’s a chance to engage with the arts community – an empowering way for the city and beyond to bond and celebrate the wonders of creativity. There is real collective power, strength and joy in communities coming together in difficult times through dance, movement, and creativity, making Derby’s Festé a superb example of this power in motion…. Take to the streets this September and spread the seeds of our creative revolution!” Steve Slater, Artistic Director and CEO, Déda.

Peter Knott, Area Director for Arts Council England, said: “Derby Festé has built a strong reputation since it launched in 2007, bringing together an eclectic mix of arts and cultural experiences for the whole community to enjoy. The 15th anniversary programme looks particularly exciting and I’m sure there will be a real buzz across the city as communities come together to immerse themselves in a wide range of world class and participatory performances, the majority of which will be free to attend.

“We’re proud to support Derby Festé, which attracts thousands of people from across Derby and beyond and is a shining example of how creativity and culture in the community can help to make people feel happy and proud of the place that they live in.”

Festé will now also extend beyond its two-day programme with two previews. First is Dr Ann Featherstone’s Fools and Horses: The Victorian Circus on the 15 September at the Museum of Making, a talk where people can discover more about the weird, wonderful wheezy world of Victorian Circus. Then on the 21 September, Laura Murphy performs at Déda with A Spectacle of Herself, a circus and clowning comedy featuring lip-sync, video and aerial rope.


Festé then launches on Friday 22 September with Illuminos, a unique event celebrating 25 years of the twinning link between Derbyshire and Toyota City with two video projection artworks, the first created specifically for the Guildhall in Market Place and the second in Kojaku-ji temple in Toyota City. The Guildhall will come alive with the beauty and vibrancy of Toyota City, golden maple leaves blending with Obara Washi paper, shared histories of weaving and manufacturing play out, and the exchange of music, culture, education, business and sport across 25 years is revealed.

Also at Market Place will be Rogue Play’s Forests, a highly visual family friendly show using acrobatics and dance.

Performing at Derby Cathedral will be the winner of the regional song contest Derbyvision, Terrianne, plus pyrotechnic artist and storyteller, Nathan Gerring and Deep Down Brass, a 6-piece brass and drums groups will play all your favourite hits from the genres of pop, rock, indie and dance.

A second premiere for the evening comes from award-winning company Nikki & JD with their camp side show, Fireside, performed at Cathedral Green. Following their international success of Knot, their first outdoor production is a participatory promenade piece, inviting the audience to share an intimate moment around a campfire.


Saturday is packed with a full day of events and activities across city locations with highlights including Delrevés’ Finale, Compagnie des Quidams, 60-foot Circo Rum Ba Ba’s The Whale, and the hugely ambitious and colourful Community Procession.

Delrevés’ Finale is a breathtakingly stunning aerial ballet which is set to defy gravity as they dance vertically off the side of the Silk Mill Tower. Performing in the afternoon as well as the closing show for the festival, this is a chance to see classical dance from another perspective, with a mesmerising display of exhilarating aerial international dance.

We are incredibly proud to see the return of the internationally renowned Compagnie des Quidams to Festé. Last here in 2018, this year they bring audiences TOTEMS, massive evanescent figures, dressed in long coats, which will wander through the crowds with controlled imbalances and incessant swirls. A roving performance that will amaze and astound audiences across the city.

Over at Riverlight Bank is a huge 60ft whale performance space called The Whale. Inside, audiences will be led by an acrobatic diver through the life and journeys of an ancient Leatherback Turtle and a whale and the threats and dangers they face to survive. The Whale will be ticketed and is performing at select times throughout the day. This performance is part of a larger theme at Festé, with many acts, as well as the procession, looking at environmental issues and new ways of looking and tackling them.

Weaving along a river route within the city will be the return of Festé’s Community Procession, with 2023’s Riverlife. Expect a river themed extravaganza, with carnival costumes and dancers; samba drumming; movement and creativity; river creatures and glowing insects; Fire Breakdancing, plus Autin Dance Theatre’s Giant Wheel and Sound Catchers – illuminated aliens on stilts. Noise, colour and community will be the flavour of its return as the procession seeks to reignite the city’s streets with community and professional arts, and festivities and performances. The procession leads into the festival’s headline evening shows: TOTEMS, Finale and a fireworks display with a difference.

We are also inviting Derby communities to be part of the action by signing up to processional making and workshops, hosted at the Museum of Making over the summer. They are also invited to be part of the drumming troop that leads the procession by signing up for free Samba drumming workshops.

There are hosts of other acts at Festé this year, including 2Faced Dance’s Lungs of Our City, a contemporary, emotional and athletic three-person dance dynamic. Def Motion, a Midlands-based crew of d/Deaf, hard of hearing, hearing and neurodiverse artists, bring Cog in the Wheel, a show which infuses street dance with theatre and visual vernacular.

Farm Yard Circus is a warm and cheery, family-friendly, farm-life inspired circus spectacle, comprising of group acrobatics, juggling, theatre, and live music. Highly Sprung’s Castaway offers audiences a stunning outdoor performance that explores the impact of today’s throwaway society on our waterways, and Joss Arnott Dance present Rush, a brand-new fast-paced, athletic and physically charged dance experience created for the streets.

Daryl & Co and Mimbre perform Look Mum, No Hands, a tender tale of friendship and growing up, whilst Simple Cypher throws down their unique fusion of Hip Hop choreography and contemporary circus to create an uplifting experience with the show, Roll Model.

Vanhulle Dance’s Dovetail is a high energy dance duet, fusing elements of ‘breakin’ and martial arts, created within a contemporary dance theatre construct. Handmade Theatre offer a unique production, Wildernests, lovingly created for children and families with music, storytelling, puppets and colourful characters, and is inspired by the plants, insects and animals found around us.

Internationally renowned Tom Dale Company bring a VR delight with Surge VR, where audiences will get to experience, interact, and play as four stellar artists collaborate to create a brand-new staged concept album.

Added to the vast array of staged performances, Festé will include other roving artists including Autin Dance Theatre’s Giant Wheel, the Bicycle Ballet Company, visually arresting and rhythmic Soundcatchers,

Not only this, but there will also be fixed hubs to explore at Festé, with Furthest From the Sea offering families a space to take part in crafts, workshops and a relax zone, at Cathedral Green, plus there’s an info hub with regionally-sourced food and stalls at Market Place. Whereas Déda and Rollersnakes will turn Chapel Street into a giant, purpose-built skate part with graffiti workshops and DJs – for young people to have their own space as part of their Altered Streets programme of work.

To see the full listing, locations and timings of Festé 23, please visit


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