Labyrinth – a new arts festival in an ancient landscape

CRANBORNE Chase, with the Cursus, Badbury Rings and many prehistoric remains, is a magical landscape – where better to launch a new festival which aims to reconnect with nature and the rural environment, in a multi-arts programme of music, dance, storytelling and theatre for all the family?

The Labyrinth Arts Festival will take place at Manswood near Wimborne, from Friday 12th to Sunday 14th July. The founders and organisers are two arts professionals Maryanna Clarke, the festival director, and co-producer Kit Bromovsky, a London-based theatre producer originally from Somerset, who want to create “something unique, wholesome and utterly joyous.”

Irish writer, actor and theatre-maker Maryanna says: “At its heart, our festival is a true celebration of live performanceWe want revellers to come, relax and immerse themselves in fantastic performances by professional artists, that will stir the imagination and soothe your soul. This will be an opportunity for people to reconnect with nature as well as one another – and most importantly – have lots of fun.’

The festival location is steeped in historical significance. Inspired by the nearby neolithic site of Badbury Rings, with a Roman road and the Dorset Cursus running alongside, the site contains man-made structures which emulate these ancient, ritual-landscape features and add a mysterious, otherworldly feel to the place. These include its own swirling Cursus (a raised walkway made of earth, generally from the Neolithic period), the eponymous labyrinth, and the festival’s centrepiece: a beautiful, grass-covered amphitheatre, all with breathtaking views of rural Dorset.

Among the theatre events over the weekend, British Touring Shakespeare will perform their original sequel to Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night – Thirteenth Night: Malvolio’s Revenge imagines what happens when Malvolio comes back … There is more Shakespeare from Sun & Moon Theatre with The Winter’s Tale featuring live music, and East Dorset resident company Old School Players will present Harold Pinter’s tension-infused, darkly comic The Dumb Waiter.

The music line-up includes East Dorset-based Celtic trio Murphy’s Lore, modern folk from Sam Austin and Band and the folk/classical three-piece Glenn Ross & The Creeks. Family entertainment ranges from comic cautionary tales to a new musical fantasy with puppets and an interactive gameshow “where disadvantage is an advantage”, and an outdoor art gallery where you get to investigate art as a creative agent of the CIA (Company of International Artists).

The other organisers are marketing director Corina Andrian, a London-based film director and visual artist, and Paul Lawless, outreach and community engagement officer, an arts producer, actor and theatre maker who co-runs theatre and community arts organisation Brave Bold Drama.

Festival goers have the option to purchase daily or full weekend tickets. On-site camping with campsite amenities available. The festival location will be disclosed upon booking. Adult day ticket: £40, Child day ticket: £15 Adult weekend ticket: £105, Child weekend ticket: £35 Weekend family ticket (4 people): £260 (Booking fees apply) Festival website & ticket link: