The people of Milton Keynes defy Storm Brian and turn out in their thousands to celebrate MK50 at the magical and fiery event Feast of FireOn Saturday 21 October, 10,000 people descended on Milton Keynes City Centre for a very special evening of fire, theatre, dance and music created by outdoor arts experts Walk the Plank.
Feast of Fire began outside centre:mk with the roars of a large Bengal Tiger accompanied by drummers from the Dhol Academy. A growing crowd followed them along a traffic-free Midsummer Boulevard to The Point Car Park for the opening show Spellbound. A packed audience watched this large-scale shadow play with music, Indian dance from Pagrav Dance and fireworks before being led back into the Boulevard.
Enjoying the rare experience of strolling at leisure along Midsummer Boulevard’s roadways, people were guided by fire and light from Walk the Plank’s flaming torches, fiery braziers, fire-belching sculptures and candles. Live music from cellist and guitarist Vania Dombrovsky floated through the air to complement French artist Denis Tricot’s beautiful flowing strips of poplar wood which curved and flowed up, over and around the iconic portes cochères.
Other performance and installations peppered along the Boulevard included a new dance performance from Milton Keynes’ MÓTUS Dance, an ingenious structure and soundscape Fruits of the Fire created by sonic artist Dan’s Fox, and Stuart Moore’s soundscape accompanying a cluster of large burning ‘thistle box’ sculptures. Festive Road’s intriguing characters and mechanical structures The Futurists processed back and forth delighting and entertaining.
Street food traders were busy too with people seeking tasty warm food and drink to refuel them on a very autumnal evening.
The People’s Procession - 250 citizens from across Milton Keynes’ 26 wards - then swept through Midsummer Boulevard, holding aloft large glow sticks to herald the beginning of the dance party headlined by Mr Wilson’s Second Liners and DJ Ritu.
The Point Car Park was then transformed into a massive dance floor with crowds enthusiastically dancing to 90s dance classics reworked with a New Orleans jazz twist by the band. Then came a specially mixed set from DJ Ritu which included train announcements from Milton Keynes Central Station and the original voiceover from the 80s ‘Shopping in Central Milton Keynes’ TV advert.
As fireworks, pyrotechnics and paper streamers filled the night sky, the evening ended with a special firework spelling MILTON KEYNES 2023 to announce Milton Keynes’ bid to be European Capital of Culture 2023.
Monica Ferguson, CEO and Artistic Director of The Stables and IF: Milton Keynes International Festival who produced the event said: “Despite everything that Storm Brian could throw at us, Feast of Fire went ahead and I’m so proud of Milton Keynes for turning out to share this unique experience. The weather was not going to dampen anyone’s spirit!”
Dr Ann Limb CBE DL, Chair of the Milton Keynes European Capital of Culture Steering Group said: “Feast of Fire was a truly great way to round off the city’s 50th birthday celebrations and then look ahead to the future by sharing Milton Keynes’ aspiration to be European Capital of Culture 2023”.
Feast of Fire took place in Central Milton Keynes on Saturday 21 October 2017 from 6.30pm - 10.30pm. Admission was free.