by Tricia Stubberfield, History Festival Administrator

I joined the Plymouth History Festival team as the administrator at an exciting time earlier this spring. With a couple of months to go until the festival began, it was my job to build the website featuring this year’s programme, liaise with all the event providers and help co-ordinate and promote the many events on the line-up.

This year, with the themes of ‘Empowerment’, ‘Journeys’ and ‘The Great Outdoors’, the festival recognises important anniversaries linked to Captain Cook, Women’s Suffrage and health and wellbeing. The opportunities to get involved are vast. There are guided walks, exhibitions, music and theatre performances, workshops, building tours, family events and films. They can all be found on the website.

A photograph of a group of people taking a guided tour in Ford Park Cemetery, Plymouth

It’s been great to discover how many diverse subjects the talks in this year’s festival cover – from stained glass windows and women’s rights, to tales of scandal, murder and intrigue from days gone by. There are lots of venues and landmarks to tour around as well including Mount Batten Tower, the Elizabethan and Prysten Houses.

A photograph of people standing on the gun platform at Mount Batten Tower, Plymouth

Being involved this year has made me realise that the History Festival is only made possible with a lot of teamwork – not just those of us at The Box who work on it, but also the many event providers throughout the city. From custodians of historic structures, religious institutions and military installations to local interest groups, artists and educators, these experts connect us to national heritage programmes, local stories and powerful interpretations of past events.

A photograph of a group of people sitting in a lecture theatre listening to a talk

I was lucky enough to meet many of these people on Saturday at the festival’s first event, Local Studies Day. This year it was organised by the city’s local heritage network, and the range of topics and interests on display in the Roland Levinsky building really showcased Plymouth’s heritage. New projects, such as Plymouth Area Disability Action Network (PADAN)’s timeline of disability history, joined established historical initiatives like the Devonport Naval Heritage Centre in demonstrating their work.

Over the coming few weeks the festival’s events will take us all over the city and through narratives spanning hundreds of years. I’m certainly looking forward to attending a few more myself and will be heading out with my camera and evaluation forms again tomorrow!

As we enjoy these events, the festival team is also starting to think about 2020 when the Mayflower 400 commemorations and the opening of The Box will be taking place. We’re keen to gather as much feedback and inspiration as possible to guide the format for this and the years to come. You can pick up an evaluation form at any of our events, or email [email protected] if you have observations or ideas you’d like to share.