Fantastical fun and whizzfizzing wonderfulness packed Aylesbury town centre on Saturday, as festival goers celebrated children’s literature at this year’s WhizzFizzFest.
Now in it’s 16th year, this family-friendly festival, originally inspired by Roald Dahl, began in grand tradition with a street parade around the town centre involving hundreds of local school children, dancers and musicians.
With celebrity guests Dame Darcey Bussell, Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill and Tony Hadley headlining this year’s festival, along with four well-known children’s authors, David Solomons, Andy Riley, Andrew Clover and Steve Antony, festival goers were filled with glee at the choice of ticketed and free events on offer.
A fantastic addition to this year’s WhizzFizzFest was the ‘Magic of the Dance’ competition led by ballerina extraordinaire and Strictly Come Dancing judge, Dame Darcey Bussell. Schools from Aylesbury Vale entered the spectacular competition and seven lucky finalists were personally chosen to perform in front of Dame Darcey and an audience of 500 guests. Congratulations to Brill Church of England Combined School who performed the Hand Jive and were crowned ‘Magic of the Dance 2018’ champions. To celebrate their success, Brill C of E Combined School have been invited to perform again at the Christmas Light Switch On ceremony in Aylesbury town centre on Thursday 15 November 2018.
Dame Darcey Bussell said: “The creativity of the dances from all seven schools was both engaging and entertaining. Three dance themes from my DDMix programme were provided to schools; the Hand Jive, Japanese and 1980s Rocky, and all rose to the challenge of delivering a fantastic performance.
“Dance is a great way to give a full body workout in a fun way that just doesn’t feel like exercise but gets, and keeps, people moving.”
Olympic and three-time World Champion heptathlete, Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, took part in a fascinating in-depth Q&A session in the main marquee and spoke about her amazing sporting career as well as her magical new books from the series, Evie’s Magic Bracelet.
Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill said: “It was great to be at WhizzFizzFest, celebrating children’s reading, and to have the opportunity to share some insights into my career as an author.”
Dame Jessica wasn’t the only special guest who helped to spread a glittering of gold on the day. Local singer and songwriter Tony Hadley shared stories of his amazing life, love of music and inspiration behind his new album with Nathan Cooper from local radio station, Mix96.
Tony Hadley commented: “It was great to be a part of the WhizzFizzFest in Aylesbury town centre on Saturday. It’s always a pleasure to be able to get involved in events so close to my own doorstep. Thank you to the organisers and all those that came along to support this fantastic community event.”
And that’s not all! WhizzFizzFest added to its hugely successful line-up of events with a rare chance to come face-to-face with some of the most entertaining and popular children’s writers at work today, David Solomons, Steve Antony, Andy Riley and Andrew Clover. The lively and interactive workshops were jam-packed with fun and games, and children were able to listen to the authors’ stories, ask questions and even take home some tips on creating their own characters!
Afternoon Tea with Peter Pan, in the Bucks County Museum’s garden café, sold out every sitting and was described by visitors as “magical” and “fantastic”. There was even a special guest appearance from cast member Tinkerbell, from the Aylesbury Waterside Theatre production of Peter Pan!
With more fun and attractions throughout the town centre than ever before, this year’s visitors were also able to spread the magic with lots of free activities; including fashion shows, dance performances and talent competitions on the Runway in Market Square, arts and crafts, inflatables, Playbus and face painting in Kingsbury Kids Quarter and fantastic opportunities to meet Aylesbury Vale’s very own new and local authors and hear them talk about their books in the Old County Courthouse.
Mum of two, Alison, from Stewkley said: “It was such a fantastic day! My boys both loved seeing everyone dressed up in the parade and had a great time gathering tips from the authors’ workshops.”
Sarah from Northampton said: “This was our first year coming to the event after receiving recommendations from friends, and we were not disappointed! We managed to book tickets for the Peter Pan afternoon tea and to see Dame Darcey Bussell’s ‘Magic of the Dance’ competition. It was such a magical day and we’re already excited to see what the next festival will bring.”
The event was organised by Aylesbury Vale District Council and supported by Aylesbury Town Centre Partnership. Sponsorship was also secured from multiple local businesses and other partners.
Cllr Angela Macpherson, Acting Leader of the Council, said: “This 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 also 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.”
Businesses throughout the town centre joined in the festivities, with staff in fancy dress, competitions, free samples and discounts on offer for customers.