Winterfest 07

The programme for the second annual WinterFest has been announced. WinterFest is an annual festival which brings in the best of world music and culture and celebrates the new diversity in the Tees Valley and the North East.

Highlights of the Festival include the poet-guitarists and soul rebels from the Sahara Desert, Tinariwen appearing at Middlesbrough Town Hall on Saturday 24th March with Asian bhangra band The Northern Lights and Kanda Bongo Man and his legendary Soukous Band appearing at the Arc, Stockton on Friday 23rd March.

Organiser Rowena Sommerville commented: “It’s really great to see WinterFest growing in this way, with varied events in varied places arranged by varied agencies, all under the WinterFest umbrella and yes, we do know it’s officially Spring, but we’ll still have our vests on!”

Winterfest is organised by Tees Valley Arts and African Arts Association and is supported by the Northern Rock Foundation, Arts Council England, North East and Middlesbrough Council. Other supporters include Creative Partnerships Tees Valley, Thistle Hotel, Psyche, Sassari Restaurant, Purple Onion Restaurant and Signs Express, Middlesbrough.


Winterfest Poetry Night, Wed 21st March, Bar 2 Zero 2, Linthorpe Road, Middlesbrough, 8pm

Performance poetry and live acoustic music.

  • Identity on Tyne plus local poets;
  • Musicians including Robert Maseko and Ahmed and Imad.

FREE Entry

Winterfest Nuit D’Afrique, Fri 23rd March, Arc, Stockton

  • Kanda Bongo Man and his legendary Soukous Band
  • Onel Mala and his Band

Throw off your vest and boogie to great African music!

Kanda Bongo Man is undoubtedly one of the most famous musicians to come out of the Congo, and has been at the forefront of the Soukous scene since the 80s right up to the present day. He’s made a big splash with his appearances over the years in the UK, at festivals like WOMAD and Glastonbury, on telly with Jools Holland and on the radio with the John Peel Sessions – making crowds fall in love with the infectious sounds and grooves of the African version of the rumba. He’ll have you learning a whole new set of dance moves by the time you’ve finished seeing him play – as the saying goes “if Kanda Bongo Man doesn’t make you want to dance, call and ambulance. You’re dead!”

Doors open 8pm; Tickets £7.50 / £5

Winterfest Youth Event, Sat 24th March, Middlesbrough Town Hall Crypt, 12-3pm

  • Bruza and The Aftershock + Grandma’s House
  • Live music + DJs + Masked Ball showcase
  • Performance of Masked Ball

Masked Ball is an exciting new commission, managed by Tees Valley Arts and funded through Creative Partnerships Tees Valley, in which musician Maurice Dezou, dancer/ choreographer Merville Jones (formerly of Phoenix Dance in Leeds), and designer/ maker Kate Ryder are working with 45 students from Manor College of Technology, Hartlepool to create a theatrical dance piece based on African masks.

Free Entry

Winterfest Gala Night, Sat 24th March, Middlesbrough Town Hall

  • Tinariwen + Northern Lights

The poet-guitarists and soul rebels from the Sahara Desert plus urban bhangra with dancers.
Mali based collective Tinariwen headline the Winterfest Gala Night. Recently signed to music label Independiente, their third enchanting album “Aman:Iman: Water Is Life” has earned them wider acknowledgement than ever before. In Uncut Magazine’s four-star review, Barney Hoskyns said: “This extraordinary band are clearly pushing for more than cult world-music status. They fully merit it.”

Rebellion and rock’n’roll have been strutting hand-in-hand for more than half a century, but only rarely has their union involved real weapons and a painfully real struggle for survival.

Tinariwen fought a rebellion in the early 1990s to win greater freedom and self-determination for the Touareg people of the southern Sahara. The fight was brief and bloody but it gave birth to a whole new style of desert music, powered by rolling camel-gait rhythms and electric guitars. Tinariwen are originators, survivors, the Stones and the Clash of the Sahara all rolled into one, and their roots rock rebellion of the soul is one of the most entrancing sounds to emerge from Africa in years.

Doors open 8pm; Tickets £10/£7.50

Winterfest Comedy Night, Tues 27th March, University of Teesside, Club One

  • Matt Blaize – Fast talking, hard hitting, hot form comedian

Doors open 8pm; Tickets £4 / £3 on door

Winterfest in Spring!, Sun 8th April, Middlesbrough Town Hall

  • Neville Staple’s Specials + The Beat Legends – what more can we say?

Doors open 7.30pm; Tickets £16.50 / £14.50