THERE’s an extra busy time at Bishops Castle this weekend as the border town’s annual five day Arts Festival reaches its conclusion.

The Castle Players opened up with the first of four performances of the pantomime “Jack and the Beanstalk” at the SpArC theatre last night Thursday, with more shows tonight Friday at 7pm and at 2pm and 6.30pm on Saturday, February 24. Tickets cost £6 and £4 for children.

Tonight’s other big event sees the return of New York Blues Hall of Fame guitarist, singer and songwriter Beki Brindle at the Three Tuns backed by ace British drummer Sticky Wicket and a line-up of top musician friends.

The music, culture and experiences of the Appalachian Mountains will be the subject of a talk by Paul Binding at the Church Barn at 2pm today, and Gerry Kennedy will talk about when the Bishops Castle and Clun Peace Group tried to unite people against the Cold War and global hostilities in the early 1980s, at 4pm at the Church Barn.

Saturday’s events will include that Artisans Market at the Town Hall, and the Castle Artists Exhibition which will continue on Sunday at the Public Hall.

A Singing workshop with harmony group Rapsquillion at the Three Tuns and a Young Musicians About Music Project workshop with music teacher Gersom Engels at the Public Hall Underground.

“Much Ado About Women” is a talk by Eileen and Tom Baker casting light on the role of women in Shakespeare’s plays at a Church Barn at 2pm; there’s English Country Dancing with the Alphabet Band at the Three Tuns, AMP band Wyson in a music showcase at the Public Hall Underground, and Rapsquillion in concert at the Three Tuns.

The festival ends on Sunday, February 25, with events including the Great B.C. Bake Off Tea Party at Bank House, Festival Service at the Parish Church, Brewery tours and Morris Dancing workshop plus concerts by the B.C.Orchestra, and the Men From Off, at the Three Tuns.

Open throughout the festival are a range of art exhibition, open studios and a photographic exhibition as well as Poetry in Windows and Limerick Competition entries also on display.

“Trump” is the topic for the Limerick competition with free entry and no prizes but with extra merit for illustrated entries. Entries have to be in by 6pm on Saturday, February 24, to Bank House or by email to Gerry at

Entries will be laminated and displayed outside Bank House and people can vote for their favourite at the Bake Off Tea Party on Sunday.

To spread poetic joy, shopkeepers and others have agreed to display in their windows poetry culled mainly from the Border Poets’ 10th and latest volume “Wolf Hoard”.

The Bishops Castle Arts Society have their show at The Poppy House in Market Square; Tahria Paul is exhibiting at The Chai Shop in High Street, and Sue Percy’s “Woodland Walk” is on at the SpArC theatre gallery.

Bank House is again providing a preview selection for the Shropshire Hills Art Week which is held in June.

A photographic exhibition at the Town Hall gallery features the work of Andrew Fusek Peters and his stunning pictures of Shropshire wildlife and landscape.

Artist, printmaker and author working in linocuts, collagraphs and cards Drusilla Cole opens up her studio at Bull Street; Jane Allard is demonstrating hand weaving using rigid heddle looms at Kerry Rise; abstract artist Jock Wright is at Yarborough House; and Geraldine Burkill is working at Kerry Lane.

Helen Robinson will also provide a preview of her architectural stained glass studio still under construction at the Old Vicarage, Church Lane.

The Festival HQ at the Town Hall is open daily 10am to 4pm to provide programmes and information, and sell concert tickets