The Wantage Summer Arts Festival starts officially this weekend (June 15) with pre-festival events taking place this week and over 60 events between now and July 14.

Until last year this was just called the Wantage Summer Festival, but has been renamed to give a more specific focus on arts organisations and performances.

Events take place in a number of venues around the area and include everything from a mosaic workshop, Lego workshops, art exhibitions, an outdoor performance of Shakespeare’s As You Like It, Swan Lake and Carmen on film to Two Blokes and a Piano, a Ghost Walk and a walk to find the lost pubs of Wantage.

There will be a range of music events including the Crown Singers and Edward Fitzgibbon performing the music of Thomas Tallis and madrigals; Oxybaroxy performing baroque classics by Bach, Handel, Mozart and Hadyn; the Vale Islanders performing dances and tunes from 17th century England; a Choir festival; several classic concerts including performances of Verdi, Rachmaninov and Beethoven; performances from the Hendred Ukulele Group; Pandemonium, Kennet Opera, Forget Me Not, and the Wayfarers and a Jazz evening with the Big Bear Stompers and Judy Eames.

It also includes Wantage Music Festival in Challow Concert Hall where vocalists, pianists and instrumentalists will be participating in music competitions.

For details of this and all the other events taking place around the town, see copies of the brochure or the festival website

For the first time there will be a ‘Wantage goes Continental’ day on Sunday, June 16, from 10am – 4.30pm when Wantage Market Place is being transformed.

The road from the Market Place to the parish church will be closed and there will be outside tables set up in front of Marmalade, 30 Something and the King Alfred’s Head pub.

Art displays will be provided by Wantage Art group and Dolphin Gallery, and Motorworld will be showing the new Ford.

Non-stop music will be provided by accordionists, Wantage Oompah Band and other local groups, so let’s hope for good weather.

I seem to remember that one of the ideas in the Wantage Neighbourhood Plan was for more of the Market Place to be pedestrianised and to do this in a phased approach and perhaps to test ideas on certain days, weeks or times of year prior to gaining formal approval from the residents and users of the Town.

This 'Continental Day' might show what the Market Place could be like in the future.