Hillsfest set to shine a light on real Hillsborough

HillsFest gets a kickstart in Hillsborough Park
Members of the Hillsborough community give their support to the festival 
Picture by Dean Atkins
HillsFest gets a kickstart in Hillsborough Park Members of the Hillsborough community give their support to the festival Picture by Dean Atkins
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Ambitious plans to attract 30,000 people to a brand new festival in Hillsborough this summer are underway.

Five 24m inflatable domes will be erected in Hillsborough Park for the two-day ‘Hillsfest,’ each dedicated to an aspect of Hillsborough’s creative community, heritage and industry.

HillsFest gets a kickstart in Hillsborough Park
Captain Jackdaw will lend his fire breathing skills to the festival
Picture by Dean Atkins

HillsFest gets a kickstart in Hillsborough Park Captain Jackdaw will lend his fire breathing skills to the festival Picture by Dean Atkins

There are also plans for a sound stage, a 50ft temporary graffiti tower and a sculpture symposium.

“We’re aiming for utterly extraordinary,” said organiser Karen Sherwood, who is heading up 13 voluntary sub-committees and over 120 volunteers.

“Each of the domes holds around 800 people. Dome one will showcase local painters, sculptors and photographers, while dome two is our hands-on dome, where people can have a go at silversmithing or making a pot or costume. Dome three will be our sound and movement zone, with dance and music displays; dome four will celebrate spoken word and film, and dome five will explore taste, with all kinds of opportunities to make and taste lovely foods. It’s going to be incredible!”

The ambitious project began when Karen, who is director Cupola Art Gallery, was trying to think of a way to celebrating the gallery’s 25th year in Hillsborough.

HillsFest gets a kickstart in Hillsborough Park
Hillsborough College art students Faiza, Matt and Nadheer will be in attendance
Picture by Dean Atkins

HillsFest gets a kickstart in Hillsborough Park Hillsborough College art students Faiza, Matt and Nadheer will be in attendance Picture by Dean Atkins

“I began considering some sort of arts festival,” said Karen.

“But the more people got involved, the more everyone grew excited about working together to launch something truly spectacular in Hillsborough.

“Our corner of the city is quite noticeable for its lack of a festival and, in fact, there hasn’t been a major free event in the park for nearly 20 years. Hillsborough is a fantastic place with great stuff going on - world class companies, amazing history and heritage, but it’s a place, like Lockerbie or Dunblane, that has often been defined by a disaster. We think it’s time to change that and hope this festival will be such a huge success, it will put us on the map for all the right reasons.”

The Hillsfest committee’s target fundraising amount is £150,000 and Karen and her team are already hard at work fundraising for the free festival, which will be held on July 9-10.

HillsFest gets a kickstart in Hillsborough Park
Karen Sherwood of Cupola Gallery with a map of the park
Picture by Dean Atkins

HillsFest gets a kickstart in Hillsborough Park Karen Sherwood of Cupola Gallery with a map of the park Picture by Dean Atkins

If you would like to know more, donate or volunteer, a launch event will be held on Wednesday March 2 from 7pm at DINA gallery in the city centre.