At the time of going to press [January], plans were storming ahead for the 2006 Dulwich Festival. This year it will run from 12-21 May and will feature many of the popular walks and talks, new initiatives as well as projects developed from previous years.

The Festival will again kick off with last year's well-received debate. This year's theme for discussion will be 'Stop Climate Chaos: We Can Make a Difference' and will have Leo Hickman, Guardian journalist and author of A Life Stripped Bear and A Good Life: The Guide to Ethical Living speaking alongside other debaters.

Local resident, Jo Brand, will give readings from her new book It's Different for Girls at the Dulwich Picture Gallery. BBC journalist, Emily Buchanan, will talk about her struggle to adopt two girls from China which she has written about in From China with Love. Agony aunt, Virginia Ironside, and award-winning biographer, Tim Jeal, will share a platform to discuss books they have written about their idiosyncratic parents.

The Artists' Open Studios weekend, a new venture in last year's Festival, will be expanded for 2006 and involve more artists in the area. The Artists' Open Studios Weekend will coincide with a new venture: the Festival Market. The organisers hope to close North Cross Road and the Market will bring together a selection of the best craftspeople, designers, independent shops, bars and cafes from the vibrant and creative East Dulwich area.

Over in Sydenham Hill Wood, encouraged by the reactions to last year's Art of Permanence and Change, the woods will be hosting more artistic adventures with an exhibition entitled Eco-vandalism.

Dulwich Society's Brian Green and Ian McInnes, as well as speakers from other local interest groups, have been booked to lead fascinating talks and walks on various aspects of Dulwich history and wildlife.

In response to past Festival visitors' ideas for future events, singers of all talents will be invited to take part in a scratch Handel's Messiah. Another musical highlight will be the Dante Quartet who have agreed to perform a concert at St Barnabas Church.

During the Festival, children can tackle drumming, circus skills, acting, literature, poetry and art workshops. Children from local schools will join together to repeat one of the Festival's musical highlights, the Grand Youth Gala concert. Younger children can end the Festival week by bringing their teddy bears to the traditional Teddy Bears' Picnic held in Dulwich Park.

If anyone was inspired by Strictly Come Dancing to put on their dancing shoes, the Festival will be calling dancers of all abilities to try an evening of ceroc (similar to rock and roll). These skills can then be used again at the Festival's grand finale at Beauberry House: Shakin' the Blues Away. Following the sell-out success of last year's 1920s, '30s and '40s Beauberry House event, Blue Harlem will be coming back to give a musical evening with a '40s and '50s twist. 

Can you help?

Printed programmes will be delivered by volunteers during April to as many households in the area as the Festival organisers can reach. If you are able to help deliver programmes or steward events, please call 020 8299 1011 or email on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Susie Schofield

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