Sixth Happing Festival launches in at new Stalham base

Four months of art, music, walks, community and historical events get under way in north-east Norfolk this weekend with the launch of the sixth Happing Festival.

An archaeological weekend and revived three-day Stalham carnival are among highlights of this year's festival, which begins on Saturday with folk band Stone Angel who are performing in Stalham Church at 7.30pm.

Events will be held in venues throughout the Happing area of Stalham and 20 surrounding parishes.

The festival has taken over the former Happing Shop, on Stalham High Street, home of the Stalham with Happing Partnership.

Now known as the Happing Gallery Shop, the venue, which will officially re-open on Saturday June 2, has been converted into an art gallery, tourist and information drop-in, ticket outlet, and it will also offer low-key caf� facilities.

A question mark had hung over the festival's future following North Norfolk District Council's decision to cut core funding of local area partnerships, including the Happing Partnership which had supported the festival.

The cut meant that partnership co-ordinator Michael Castle lost his job at the end of March but, before leaving, he had managed to secure �3,000 of funding, enabling the festival to keep the shop open until the end of September, according to new festival director, Avril Smith.

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Throughout the summer it will be open as a gallery for the work of 60 local artists and craftsmen, beginning with sculptor Jenny Boland and Peter French, whose painting of Ingham Church is the front of this year's Happing Festival programme.

An exhibition and lectures on Norfolk's lost coastal villages, and a fossil roadshow, to include replicas of the mammoth bones found at West Runton, will be on offer over the August bank holiday weekend when the carnival will also be in full swing, featuring a craft fair, dog show, flower display, children's activities and a carnival queen.

'I hope we can secure more funding, or generate income, to keep going after the end of September,'' said Ms Smith.

'I feel this area is a gem which needs to be polished. People are always going on about Cromer but we have got far more -– coast and the Broads.

'People think of Stalham as a sleepy little town but there is just so much talent in the area and we want the community to discover it.''

? Festival programmes are available from the shop, at 35a High Street, or visit:

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