Fantastical fun and whizzfizzing wonderfulness filled Aylesbury town centre on Saturday 22 June, as thousands of festival goers celebrated children’s art and literature at this year’s WhizzFizzFest.
The popular family-friendly festival, in its grand tradition, opened with a spectacular street parade which saw the town’s Market Square brought to life with colour, music and creativity. Over a thousand local school children, community groups, musicians, and bands took to the streets of Aylesbury with costumes and hand-made puppets, joined by WhizzFizzFest’s giant puppet provided by renowned outdoor arts company Festive Road - the incredible Whizzton Fizzley!
This year’s exciting literary line-up included Cressida Cowell, award-winning author of the How to Train Your Dragon and The Wizards of Once series and Nick Butterworth, creator of the much-loved Percy the Park Keeper books. Festival goers enjoyed a rare chance to come face-to-face with two of the most entertaining and popular children’s writers and, during the lively and interactive author sessions, were able to listen to the authors’ stories and even hear tips about becoming an author or illustrator themselves.
Visitors of all ages were also invited to take a trip down memory lane in a free-to-attend special celebration of the life and works of the late Judith Kerr OBE, who had been due to appear at this year’s WhizzFizzFest. Heart-warming clips from the celebrated documentary ‘Hitler, the Tiger and Me’, fizztastic face painting, and readings from Judith’s best-loved books including The Tiger Who Came to Tea and the Mog series were enjoyed by all as part of the event.
Matthew M, age 10, from Stoke Mandeville commented: “WhizzFizzFest was an amazing event. All the events, shows, performances and activities were amazing! It was also such a privilege to read The Tiger Who Came to Tea with my brother, Harry, in the Judith Kerr memorial event.”
Kindly sponsored by Hale Leys Shopping Centre, the Main Marquee also hosted the exciting final of the Queens Park Arts Centre 500 Words Challenge. As the climax of months of hard work by local children, the event saw actors from local theatre company, Unbound Theatre, bring to life the stories written and submitted by the six fabulous finalists. Congratulations to the winners from each category!
Warmly welcomed back to WhizzFizzFest was the talented Dame Darcey Bussell DBE, who, following the success of last year’s ‘Magic of the Dance’ competition, returned with her fantastic DD Mix For Schools Dance Fitness competition as part of headlining event, The Wonder of WhizzFizz. This year the event was part of a national tour of DD MIX competitions to seven locations nationwide, and it all started in Aylesbury. Schools from Buckinghamshire entered the popular dance competition and five lucky finalists were personally chosen to perform on stage in front of Dame Darcey and an audience of over 500 guests. Hosted at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre, the event also included spectacular performances from: illusionist and Britain’s Got Talent semi-finalist Maddox, magician and proud member of the world-famous Magic Circle, Wayne Fox and talented local choir group, The Aylesbury Rock Choir.
Congratulations to Lace Hill Academy who were crowned champions for 2019 after performing a fantastic Line Dance.
Dame Darcey Bussell DBE said: “The energy and enthusiasm of the five schools was inspiring and wonderful to experience. Each school delivered a fantastic interpretation of one of the DDMIX dance fitness routines: Hand Jive, Japanese, 1980s Rocky or Line Dance, and the overall performance as part of The Wonder of WhizzFizz was fantastic.
“It’s been a delight to work with schools across the country during this event, promoting health and fitness through this inclusive fun dance fitness program.”
Tucked away from the WhizzFizzFest hustle and bustle, visitors enjoyed a delicious fusion of exciting street food (or a scrumptious traditional picnic for the younger whizzfizzers) at the Teddy Bear’s Picnic. Hosted in the beautiful gardens of Bucks County Museum, there was also a delightful mix of relaxing music, fantastic performances from Adele Peters Performing Arts School and even a special guest appearance from Bentley the Bear!
Alongside the popular ticketed events, there was a fizztastic choice of free events and activities throughout the town centre. Attractions included: fashion shows, theatre, dance and music performances and a fancy dress competition on the Runway Stage in Market Square, fantastic opportunities to meet Aylesbury Vale’s very own new and local authors and hear them talk about and read from their books in The Exchange, a thrilling fun fair in Kingsbury and incredible bubbleologist and balloonist street performances all around the town centre. Festival goers also enjoyed exploring the town and hunting for hidden treasure with the WhizzFizzQuest, the festival’s newest addition proudly sponsored by Aylesbury Garden Town.
Mum of two, Judith, from Leighton Buzzard said: “It was such a fantastic day! My girls were mesmerised by the bubbleologist and enjoyed eating lunch amongst the story-telling and other festivities at The Exchange.”
WhizzFizzFest was brought to Aylesbury town centre by Aylesbury Vale District Council and festival producers Purple Shows Presents, with support from Aylesbury Town Centre Partnership. The festival wouldn’t have been possible without its gold sponsors Hale Leys Shopping Centre and Aylesbury Garden Town as well as other generous sponsorship and support from multiple local businesses and organisations.
Councillor Paul Irwin, Cabinet Member for Environment and Leisure, said: “Every year, WhizzFizzFest proves to be a fantastic day of celebrating all-things children’s literature. The event was the result of months of hard work and planning from many different departments and local businesses, all working together as a team. A big thank you must go out to all of our generous sponsors and our staff, without their support we couldn’t have provided such an amazing day for everyone.
“This year, WhizzFizzFest was made extra special as we were delighted to receive Fair4All Status from the Buckinghamshire Disability Service, championing the festival as an accessible and inclusive event for Aylesbury town centre.”