More Things To Do in and around York once lockdown loosens grip and at home now. List No. 27, courtesy of The Press, York

Sandwich time: Teddy Bears’ Picnic, Cassie Vallance’s hit show from last summer in Rowntree Park, York, can be streamed from tomorrow

THE return of live entertainment is on the horizon at last, hopefully from May 17, prompting a surge in show confirmations, but in the meantime Stay Home activities remain prominent in Charles Hutchinson’s diary too.

Children’s streamed show of the weeks ahead: Park Bench Theatre’s Teddy Bears’ Picnic, February 26 to March 7

ONE of the hits of last summer’s Park Bench Theatre open-air season at Rowntree Park, York, is to be streamed by producers Engine House Theatre from tomorrow.

Children’s show Teddy Bears’ Picnic was performed by Cassie Vallance under Covid-safe conditions with more than 1,000 adults and youngsters seeing the show at 30-plus performances.

Suitable for everyone aged three and over, the streamed show will be bolstered by a Make Your Own Teddy Bear craft video. Tickets cost £5 at tpetv.com.

Hal Cruttenden and Rosie Jones: Your Place Comedy double bill at the weekend

Streamed comedy gig of the weekend: Rosie Jones and Hal Cruttenden, Your Place Comedy, Sunday

ROSIE Jones, Bridlington-born comedian, scriptwriter and actor, will join television comedy mainstay Hal Cruttenden in a virtual double bill on Sunday night, streamed from their living rooms into homes via YouTube and Twitch at 8pm.

Co-ordinator Chris Jones, manager of Selby Town Hall, says: ““I know that times are tough for many people, and so we’re committed to keeping these shows completely free, so please do come and join Hal, Rosie and Tim via yourplacecomedy.co.uk for some top entertainment at an unbeatable price, as for now streaming is the only show in town.”

Thunk-It Theatre’s Becky Lennon and Jules Risingham: Setting up youth theatre classes with Pocklington Arts Centre

Youth theatre project launch: Thunk-It Theatre in tandem with Pocklington Arts Centre, from this weekend

YORK company Thunk-It Theatre are partnering with Pocklington Arts Centre to provide youth theatre for the East Riding and beyond.

Weekly drama classes will be available to children aged six to 11 from February 28, initially on Zoom until it is safe to re-open the Market Place venue, when sessions can be held in person.

The all-levels drama sessions for Years 2 to 6 will take place from 10am to 11am every Sunday during term time, run by Becky Lennon and Jules Risingham. To book a place, visit pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk.

Asterisk tweet: Liam Gallagher found a typically eff-usive way on Wednesday to express his delight at the thumbs-up for Leeds Festival in August

Game-changing festival announcement of the year so far:  Leeds Festival, Bramham Park, near Wetherby, to go ahead

LEEDS Festival, Yorkshire’s biggest outdoor musical gathering of the year, is ON. Organiser Melvin Benn, managing director of Festival Reepublic, confirmed the decision yesterday (24/2/2021) in the wake of the Government’s Monday statement on the four-step route out of Covid lockdown strictures.

Already confirmed as headliners are Stormzy, Catfish And The Bottlemen, Post Malone, Disclosure, Liam Gallagher and Queens Of The Stone Age in a new initiative for the August 27 to 29 event that sees the long-running festival introducing a second main stage to enable two bill-toppers per day.

Aljaž Škorjanec and Janette Manrara: New date for Remembering The Oscars dance show at York Barbican. Picture: Colin Thomas

Dance delay: Aljaž Škorjanec and Janette Manrara: Remembering The Oscars, York Barbican, put back to April 2022

STRICTLY Come Dancing regulars Aljaž Škorjanec and Janette Manraraare moving their Remembering The Oscars show at York Barbican for a second time. The persistent pandemic has enforced a switch to April 7 2022 for the only Yorkshire performance of next year’s tour, after an earlier change from Spring 2020 to March 2021. Tickets are still valid.

In the meantime, Aljaž and Janette will star in a streamed one-hour performance of Remembering The Oscars for a limited three-week season from March 27 to April 17. To book, go to: rememberingtheoscars.com.

Just Steve, A Guitar And You: the tour poster for Seasick Steve’s York Barbican return in the autumn

York gig announcement of the week: Seasick Steve, York Barbican, November 11

CALIFORNIAN country blues singer-songwriter Seasick Steve will return to York Barbican on November 11 on his Just Steve, A Guitar And You Tour.

Tickets go on sale tomorrow (26/2/2021) from 9am at yorkbarbican.co.uk for the only Yorkshire gig of the American’s nine-date autumn solo tour in support of his second album of 2020, last November’s Blues In Mono.

“I’m lookin’ forward to coming and playing for y’all,” says Seasick Steve, 69. “Just gonna be me, you and my guitar. A few songs and a few stories, kinda like we just hangin’ out together! Gonna be fun. See ya there.”

Jesse Malin: Pocklington Arts Centre gig in December

East Yorkshire gig announcement of the week: Jesse Malin, Pocklington Arts Centre, December 7

POCKLINGTON Arts Centre has secured a new date for New York City singer-songwriter Jesse Malin. He will play on December 7 2021, fully 18 months after he was originally booked to perform there in June 2020 as part of PAC’s 20th anniversary programme.

Malin, 53, released his seventh studio album, Sunset Kids, in 2019, produced by Lucinda Williams, American roots icon, country music queen and 2016 Platform Festival headliner at the Old Station, Pocklington.

Grayson Perry: Channel 4 return, York Barbican show and York Art Gallery exhibition at CoCA

And what about?

THE return of Grayson’s Art Club for a second series on Channel 4 on Fridays after Grayson Perry’s beacon of light was such a spirit-lifting boost to home creativity in the early days of Lockdown 1 last spring.

Perry, by the way, is booked into York Barbican for September 6 on his A Show For Normal People tour and his delayed early pottery exhibition, The Pre-Therapy Years, should open at the Centre of Ceramic Art (CoCA), York Art Gallery, on May 28, if Step 3 re-opening comes into effect from May 17, as planned.

Parking Lot Social have to call off Easter Festival drive-in extravaganza at York Racecourse but hope to arrange new dates

Hands up who wants the Parking Lot Social drive-in festival to find new dates after the Easter shows at York Racecourse had to be postponed under Covid strictures

PARKING Lot Social’s drive-in Easter Festival will not roll into York for two days of socially distanced outdoor entertainment on March 31 and April 1 after all.

Instead, in light of the Government’s four-step route out of pandemic lockdown still precluding outdoor performances on those dates, event organisers XL Event Lab are seeking to rearrange their UK-wide tour, including the York Racecourse shows on Knavesmire.

In an official statement today, chief operating officer John Kinnersley said: “Following yesterday’s lockdown announcement from the UK Government, we are working to reschedule the event and will make an announcement as soon as we have confirmed details with our various suppliers and partners.

“We have successfully adapted to changes in guidance for previous tours, and conversations are already underway to secure new dates which we expect to announce shortly.”

The 2021 Parking Lot Social Easter drive-in was set to feature comedy, drag acts, films, pantomime and the new addition of Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azbakan, complete with costume competition and wizard-themed quiz.

The Easter Panto would have built on the debut Parking Lot Social drive-in Cinderella show last Christmas, giving a seasonal makeover to The Wizard Of Oz, with cast members putting on a special performance tailored uniquely to the drive-in format.

Central to the tour show, as and when it does go ahead, will be the stars of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK, entertaining adults with “iconic performances” by season one alumni Baga Chipz, Divina De Campo, Vinegar Strokes and Gothy Kendoll, alongside season two queens Ginny Lemon, Ellie Diamond and Tayce.

A host of drive-in movies for all ages are integral to the show, as is the Social Kids event, where families can safely enjoy an interactive showcase with an afternoon of quizzes, Car-a-oke, games and even a silent disco.

More entertainment from the Parking Lot Social …as and when the York Racecourse shows are rescheduled

For drive-in laughs, the Parking Lot Social presents the Parking LOL Comedy Night with some of the UK’s finest comedians.

Kinnersley says: “Our debut summer and winter tours were a huge success last year, and we’re keen to keep up momentum and continue to deliver first-class events which are not only enjoyable, but also completely Covid-19 friendly.

“Every detail of our drive-in tour – from entering the site to parking up and ordering food – has been designed with customer and staff safety front of mind, with ticket holders able to enjoy the experience with complete piece of mind.”

Whenever the York Racecourse shows take place, once rearranged, attendees will be entertained in their cars from a vast custom-made stage, the entertainment being broadcast across two 40ft screens. Audio will be transmitted from the stage directly to each vehicle through a dedicated FM radio channel.

Safety is at the heart of the event, say the organisers: “Audiences take part in the immersive, interactive shows from their own cars. It’s a completely contactless event ensuring a safe and socially distant experience.”

The Parking Lot Social Easter Festival was to have played York, Liverpool, Birmingham, Coventry, Manchester, Cheltenham, Bristol, Newcastle and Luton.

For updates on new dates and ticket arrangements, go to theparkinglotsocial.co.uk. 

What is the Parking Lot Social?

THIS touring entertainment concept blends live music, films, DJs, interactive games, quizzes and comedy into a thrilling day/night out. While guests are required to remain in their car, the focus is on mass participation at all times to bring the audience together, but always keeping everyone a safe distance apart. Take a look at this video: https://vimeo.com/510627930

Emergence Festival celebrates emerging artists in lockdown at University of York

Emergence Festival: A celebration of emerging talent, presented on Zoom from the University of York

EMERGENCE Festival, a free virtual arts festival showcasing emerging artists creating work in York in the pandemic, will run online from tomorrow (23/2/2021) until Saturday.

Co-ordinated by co-producers Olivia Maltby, Millie Feary and Blyth McPherson at the University of York, the festival on Zoom will feature six plays directed, designed and performed by students: NSFW by Lucy Kirkwood; Mike Bartlett’s Wild by Mike Bartlett; Ross & Rachel by James Fritz; Gary Owen’s killology; Wild Swimming by Marek Horn and Jez Butterworth’s The River.

Solo music by Yorkshire artists James Banks and Rumbi Tauro will book-end the festival, Doncaster pop singer Banks performing new original music and covers on the opening day; Intake R&B/soul artist Tauroplaying a live set at the online closing party.

James Banks: Doncaster musician to play online at Emergence Festival

Doncaster instructor Claire Burns will lead a Hatha yoga class, Sunshine Yoga, and the University of York Comedy Society’s sketch troupe, The Dead Ducks, will perform a sketch first aired at the 2019 Edinburgh Fringe.

Panels and talks with industry professionals, such as Sorcha McCaffrey, The Paper Birds, Rocket Box Theatre, JustOut Theatre and Chris Swain, will offer the chance to discuss how to survive as an artist in a pandemic and how to break into the industry. 

These will take place in the form of live Q&As or webinars, where the artists will be to answer any and every questions.

“Celebrating the work of new and upcoming artists in the performing arts industry has never been so important,” says Olivia, introducing a virtual festival where everything will be free to attend from the comfort of home.

The River: Jez Butterworth’s play set on a moonless night in August

“With the effects of the pandemic on the arts sector, anyone in the industry has faced disruption and is challenged with fears of the future. Our festival provides a positively exciting space for emerging artists to showcase their talent far and wide and to remind us of how important art and culture is.”

Originally, Emergence Festival was intended to take place at University of York’s theatre department, but in response to Lockdown 3, the students had to adapt to what was possible, embracing the opportunity to present their work on Zoom.

After overcoming the initial fear of poor wi-fi and glitching, the artists have thrived in their new environment in their rehearsals, culminating in this week’s live performances online.

Sam Armstrong: Director of Ross & Rachel

The full schedule is: 

Tuesday, February 23

5.15pm to 5.30pm:  Welcome speech.

5.30pm to 6.20pm: Wild Swimming by Marek Horn.

A kaleidoscopic exploration of cultural progress, Marek Horn’s play Wild Swimming is an interrogation of gender and privilege and a wilfully ignorant history of English Literature.

Wild Swimming: Marek Horn’s kaleidoscopic exploration of cultural progress

6.20pm to 6.55pm: James Banks.

Doncaster singer James Banks’s songs are a fusion of pop anthems and the vocal stylings of Sam Smith, Will Heard and Conan Grey. His set will combine originals and covers.

7pm to 8.20pm:  NSFW by Lucy Kirkwood.

This sharp comedy addresses power games and privacy in the media and beyond.

Wednesday, February 24.

4pm to 5pm: Q&A with Sorcha McCaffrey.

In this interactive Q&A session, writer and actor Sorcha McCaffrey will take questions from the audience about her career in the theatre industry, writing a solo show and performing as a touring artist.

Sorcha McCaffrey: Live Q&A at Emergence Festival on Wednesday

5pm to 6.20pm: killology by Gary Owen.

In a play where a controversial new gaming experience is inspiring a generation, players are rewarded for torturing victims, scoring points for “creativity”.

7pm to 8.40pm: Wild by Mike Bartlett.

This darkly comic play explores the unexpected, bewildering and life-changing consequences of challenging the status quo at a global level.

Thursday, February 25

4pm to 5pm: In Conversation with The Paper Birds.

The Paper Birds, a devising theatre company with a social and political agenda, specialise in verbatim theatre, inspiring change through the theatre they create. In this session, they will discuss their experience of breaking into the theatre industry, devising theatre inspired by the community around them and their projects in lockdown. 

Ross & Rachel: James Fritz’s dark and uncompromising play about romance, expectation and mortality

5pm to 6.15pm: Ross & Rachel by James Fritz.

A dark and uncompromising play about romance, expectation and mortality, Ross & Rachel tells the story of what happens when two friends who were always meant to be together, get together and stay together.

7pm to 8.15pm: The River by Jez Butterworth.

On a moonless night in August when the sea trout are ready to run, a man brings his new girlfriend to the remote family cabin where he has come for the fly-fishing since he was a boy. She is not the only woman he has brought there, however, nor indeed the last.

Friday, February 26

4pm to 5pm: In Conversation with Chris Swain.

Chris Swain, lighting designer for devising physical theatre company Gecko, will answer questions on life as a technical freelancer working in theatre and dance: how to start; how theatre design jobs are structured; the difference between devised and text-led work; how to be an effective collaborator; the tech and software that are used, and the future of the industry.

Zooming in: Maria Cook and Bradley Hodgson in rehearsal for The River

5pm to 6.40pm: Wild by Mike Bartlett.

6.40pm to 7pm: Comedy Sketch by The Dead Ducks.

The University of York Comedy Society sketch troupe The Dead Ducks will stream a humorous performance during the interval. 

7pm to 8.20pm: NSFW by Lucy Kirkwood.

Saturday, February 27

10am to 11am: Sunshine Yoga with Claire Burns.

Claire Burns hosts a live yoga session of sun salutations with gentle, energising, breath-led flows, guided meditation and deep relaxation.

In concert: Rumbi Tauro to perform closing online show at Emergence Festival

11am to 12 noon: Rocket Box X JustOut Theatre.

Theatre companies Rocket Box and JustOut Theatre invite questions about their insight into life post-graduation and taking first steps into the theatre industry. Mistakes were made, lessons were learnt, so, sit down, open notebooks and let the demystifying revelations begin.

12 noon to 1.15pm, The River by Jez Butterworth.

2.40pm to 4pm: killology by Gary Owen.

4.05pm to 4.55pm: Wild Swimming by Marek Horn.

5.30pm to 6.50pm: Ross & Rachel by James Fritz.

7pm onwards: Closing party with Rumbi Tauro.

Zimbabwean-born soul and R&B singer-songwriter Rumbi Tauro, from Intake, Doncaster, will close the festival with a set of originals and covers to celebrate the work of Emergence’s emerging artists. 

Emergence Festival free tickets can be booked at: https://tftv.ticketsolve.com/shows. For more information, go to https://igpproducers.wixsite.com/website.

That Jorvik Viking Thing online festival will peak with day of live-streaming on Saturday

Late addition: Lindy-Fay Hella will discuss scents, plant essences, myths and storytelling in a live-stream tomorrow. Picture: Raina Vlaskovska and May Husb

THE finale to York’s six-day online festival, That Jorvik Viking Thing, will be an ambitious afternoon and evening of live-streaming on Saturday.

Ancient meets ultramodern in the challenging task faced by the team behind this week’s event, who will play host to a “truly international and extraordinary Norse-themed broadcast from 12 noon”.

Billed as the world’s largest-ever online Viking festival, That Jorvik Viking Thing has been organised by the Jorvik Viking Centre as an alternative to the Coppergate visitor attraction’s usual February half-term activities. 

Introduced by York Mix Radio presenter Ben Fry and three members of Jorvik Viking Centre’s interpretation and collections teams, Lucas Norton, Rachel Cutler and Becky Sampson, the day will mix live presentations and Q&A sessions from Jorvik, with links to other Viking attractions around the world, including Dublinia in Dublin and Lofoten Viking Museum in Norway. 

York’s Viking village at Murton Park will feature in the day too, contributing a live wood-working project that will be revisited throughout the broadcast, alongside some pre-recorded films being worked into the show. 

Event manager Gareth Henry says: “We were fortunate to be able to film a host of videos for the Thing while lockdown restrictions were lifted in the autumn, including our fun film, Arnor’s Adventure, and our daily chapters of the Saga Of Revr The Sly, which have been released each day during the Thing since Monday.

“We had hoped to be able to broadcast this day live from a fully populated Viking village; sadly the Norns* were against us, but we are pleased that we can still manage some socially-distanced filming from the village.”  

Einar Selvik: Norse musician will take part in the closing event of That Jorvik Viking Thing on Saturday

The live-streamed day will be the penultimate event in That Jorvik Viking Thing’s programme that will conclude at 7.30pm with international Nordic folk musician Einar Selvik deep in conversation with music journalist Alexander Milas.

Selvik composed the music for the History Channel’s Vikings series and the Assassins Creed: Valhalla game soundtrack, and his latest album with his band Wardruna, Kvitravn, topped the iTunes chart on release in January.

On Saturday, Selvik will discuss Norse music, demonstrate assorted instruments and perform acoustic versions of a selection of his songs. Tickets cost £15 at jorvikthing.com.

In a last-minute addition to the Thing’s programme tomorrow (19/2/2021), Selvik’s Wardruna bandmate, Lindy-Fay Hella, will be joined by Christina Oakley Harrington, founder of London bookshop Treadwells, and herbalist Johanna Elf to discuss scents, plant essences, myths and storytelling in a free live-stream at 8pm, accessible through jorvikthing.com.

So far, That Jorvik Viking Thing and its educational preview during Schools Week, have drawn more than 20,000 visitors to the website to watch more than 2,500 hours of video content. Some live-streams are still attracting audiences, not least the fun Poo Day, prompting Twitter to be flooded with images of home-made Viking worm-infested poo. 

The most popular video is a free 360-degree tour of Viking-age Coppergate that can even be viewed using a VR headset for a fully immersive experience.

For more information, or to access the array of video-on-demand resources, visit jorvikthing.com

*Who are the Norns?

In Norse mythology, the Norns are female beings who rule the destiny of Gods and men.

Chart-topping Nordic musician Einar Selvik to take part in That Jorvik Viking Thing’s most ambitious online event on Saturday UPDATED 20/2/2021

Einar Selvik: Discussing Norse music, demonstrating instruments and playing songs at That Jorvik Viking Thing online event on Saturday

OUT goes Europe’s largest Viking festival, the Jorvik Viking Festival, banished from York by Lockdown 3 restrictions. In comes That Jorvik Viking Thing, the world’s largest online Viking festival, organised by York Archaeological Trust.

So named as a nod to “Thing” being “a Viking public assembly”, the half-term remote event adds up to six days of new online content and live broadcasts, climaxing in An Evening With Einar Selvik, chart-topping Nordic musician and Jorvik Viking Centre enthusiast, on Saturday.

At 7.30pm that night, the Wardruna front-man will be in conversation with producer, filmmaker and journalist Alexander Milas, discussing Norse music, demonstrating instruments such as the taglharpa, and performing songs, buoyed by his band’s latest album, Kvitravn (White Raven), topping the iTunes chart in late-January.

Ticket holders are invited to send questions for a live question-and-answer session too, and such questions may even stretch to asking Einar about providing the soundtrack for the History Channel’s Vikings series and composing the music for the latest Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla game, released last November.

“As I’m an enthusiast for the festival, it feels great to be able to contribute, especially in these strange times,” says Einar Selvik

Einar is no stranger to the Jorvik Viking Festival. “I’ve performed there and done lectures there,” he says, recalling his sold-out events in “maybe 2017 and 2018”. “I really enjoy York as a city and I love the atmosphere during the festival,” he says.

“I do enjoy the ride at Jorvik Viking Centre – I’ve been there a few times – and maybe it’s best that the famous odour is confined to one space!”

Now comes his Jorvik Viking Festival online debut. “I was contacted, I guess it was a few months ago, by the organisers, asking if I’d be up for doing something: some sort of performance, if I’d be open to that idea.

“As I’m an enthusiast for the festival, it feels great to be able to contribute, especially in these strange times.”

Chart-toppers: Einar Selvik’s band, Wardruna. Picture: Kim Ohrling

Saturday’s online event can be viewed from all four corners of the globe, one of the changes that the pandemic has brought to arts and culture. “Absolutely that’s a good thing,” says Einar.

“Once all this started happening last year, first there was a lot of disappointment, but it’s up to us to think differently, to find a constructive and positive focus and look at the possibilities of what we can do. That’s the only way of coping and surviving.”

Einar’s band, Wardruna, last performed to a live audience in December 2019. “We were supposed to be doing our tour right after the first lockdown, when we were supposed to be playing the UK,” he says.

“The album was originally going to be released in early June last year, doing the tour of the UK in the following weeks, which has since been pushed to this spring, but that’s not likely now, and we’ll probably have to rearrange again, when Manchester will be the nearest place to York we’ll be playing.”

Artwork for Wardruna’s January album, Kvitravn

Kvitravn was completed in mid-March, before lockdown restrictions were imposed in Scandinavia, and the album release was delayed subsequently by the production plant being closed, but Einar believes that delay has turned out to be serendipitous. “I often get that question, leading up to a release, about ‘don’t you think the timing is risky?’, when you want to support it with concerts,” he says.

“But people have now adapted to new ways over the past year, they’re spending more time at home, and judging by the responses we’ve had people are really grateful to have something new for these times.”

What’s more, Einar’s songs on Kvitravn address both human nature and nature against the backdrop of the Coronavirus pandemic and climate change. “I do feel the album is on the brink of being almost prophetic,” he says. “Even though it addresses themes that were relevant pre-Covid, everything is amplified by what’s happening now.

“If you go back and make connections with various cultures, and you connect with wild animals and white ravens, like I do, when you look at the prophecies connected with them, you find that those prophecies are very often connected to renewal or great change, so there’s great hope in that album title.”

Einar Selvik: Wardruna front-man plays lyre, taglharpa, flute, goat horn, lur, drums and percussion

Einar continues: “The raven is an animal I have a totemic relationship with, which is why I chose that for myself. But although this album is in a sense more personal and more down to earth than before, it’s also quite obscure.

“I delve into the philosophical, the esoteric, the Nordic myths and how these old traditions define human nature and nature itself. So, the white raven was not chosen as the title because of my name, but more due to the ideas which inspired me to take that name in the first place.”

Einar, whose lyrics combine Norwegian with Old Norse, describes Kvitravn as being “a visual landscape”. “I do think that the music speaks on its own, even though it’s in this Norse and Nordic wrapping. The instruments, the themes, are timeless, so I think that’s one of the reasons people react to it very personally,” he says.

“But the lyrical side is a very important ingredient too, which is why, at least on the physical versions, we do include an English translation if you want to connect on that level.”

“The raven is such a central creature in Nordic traditions, being seen as a message between here and beyond,” says Einar

“The raven is such a central creature in Nordic traditions, being seen as a message between here and beyond, and as the animal embodiment of the human mind and body, so almost human within nature, I guess, on many levels.”

Einar has had experiences with ravens, both in his waking hours and in the world of dreams. “They are such strong symbols, representing nature and how it speaks through you in your own symbolic language that’s connected to your intuition, whether in actual encounters with ravens or in dreams,” he says.   

Einar, whose lyrics combine Norwegian with Old Norse, describes Kvitravn as being “a visual landscape”. “I do think that the music speaks on its own, even though it’s in this Norse and Nordic wrapping. The instruments, the themes, are timeless, so I think that’s one of the reasons people react to it very personally,” he says.

“But, for me, the poetry and lyrical side is a very important ingredient too, which is why, at least on the physical versions, we do include an English translation if you want to connect on that level.

Alexander Milas: Producer, filmmaker and journalist hosting Einar Selvik’s online event at That Jorvik Viking Thing

“In terms of language, I have quite a playful approach to it, where I combine Norwegian with Old Norse and Proto Norse, a language from before the Viking age. It’s almost Germanic.”

Einar grew up steeped in traditional music, Norse music and metal music. “For several years I played in metal bands, but I would say I was quite done with metal on a personal level in my mid-teens,” he says. “From then, it was more of a job and the desire to do something that was more in keeping with my passions grew stronger and stronger.”

Does he see any common ground between metal music and Wardruna’s music? “Metal has always drawn a lot from Nordic culture and ideology, but I really wanted to do something where they were treated more in their own right, not just playing with it for an album cover or lyrics, but for the tonality too,” says Einar.

“I guess there are connections between metal and Norse music in that lots of melodies in Scandinavian traditional music are quite dark, like in metal.”

Einar’s childhood days were spent on the Norwegian island of Osteroy. “It’s a fairly large inland island with a fjord surrounding it, and I guess your surroundings will always affect you. Growing up amid this postcard imagery, it definitely cultivated a profound sense of appreciation of nature,” he says.

“‘Nature’ instruments have a will of their own as they’re a living thing,” says Einar Selvik of the taglharpa, a bowed instrument made with horse hair

“I also grew up with lots of stories from the past, where you can connect them with the landscapes and what happened there 1,500 years ago. In hindsight, it gave me a sense of place and a place in time.”

Looking forward to Saturday’s streamed show, Einar says: “Alexander Milas will host the event, where I’ll talk with him a little about the context of each song and about the tools I use, the instrumentation, what we know and what we think we know about them. And, of course, the best way of demonstrating an instrument is to put it to use in a song.”

Einar will find time for questions from the online audience too, but here is one in advance: what is the taglharpa instrument? “It’s basically a bowed lyre, and in Scandinavia it’s the oldest bowed instrument we know of,” he says.

“Taglharpa means ‘horse hair’, which is what it’s made out of, though when I perform, I sometimes use metal strings for practical reasons because horse hair is really weather sensitive when you’re playing outside, which is the case with a lot of ‘nature’ instruments. They have a will of their own as they’re a living thing.”

An Evening With Einar Selvik, That Jorvik Festival Thing online, Saturday, 7.30pm. For £15 tickets, go to: jorvikthing.com. Wardruna’s album, Kvitravn, is available on Sony Music/Columbia Germany.

Story copyright of The Press, York

Jorvik Viking Festival really is the Thing this year as York event goes online for six days

Einar Selvik: Live-streamed concert and Q&A session at That Jorvik Viking Thing.  Picture: Arne Beck

YORK is hosting the world’s largest online Viking festival, That Jorvik Viking Thing, from today (15/2/2021) until Saturday.

The digital diary in Lockdown 3 will be filled with chart-topping music, live-streamed events for all ages, virtual tours and the first-ever 360-degree immersive video of Jorvik Viking Centre’s celebrated ride through Viking-age York.

Against the backdrop of the Jorvik Viking Festival – the largest Viking festival in Europe – being unable to take place in the pandemic, organisers from York Archaeological Trust have created an online festival based on the concept of the “Thing” – a Viking public assembly.

Six days of exclusive new online content and live broadcasts will culminate with an evening with Nordic folk composer Einar Selvik, whose band Wardruna’s latest album, Kvitran, hit the top of the iTunes album chart in January.

Members of the Jorvik team prepare for That JORVIK Viking Thing. Picture: Charlotte Graham

At 7.30pm on Saturday, Einar will discuss his Nordic music, demonstrate instruments and perform a selection of his latest compositions. Ticket holders will be invited to send their questions for a live Q&A session hosted by music journalist and film-maker Alexander Milas.

Gareth Henry, events manager for York Archaeological Trust, has been tasked with putting together the online festival. “For many people, the February half-term is synonymous with Vikings as we’ve been hosting a festival for more than 35 years,” he says.

“Whether that be families drawn by the thrilling combat displays and spectacle of hundreds of Vikings marching through the city, or academics here for our annual symposium, where the latest research from all over the world is presented by leaders in the field of Viking studies.

“We can’t replace the crowds, but we can offer several hours of Norse-themed fun, including our most ambitious live-streamed series of events, live from Jorvik Viking Centre, on the final day of the Thing (20/2/2021): perfect preparation for the evening with Einar Selvik.”

Cressida Cowell: Author will read online from her Norse-themed children’s books

The transition of many elements of the festival to online events has been “fairly straightforward”, according to Gareth.  “Our family favourite events, like Poo Day, when children can recreate their own version of the Lloyds Bank Coprolite – the world’ most famous fossilised poo, which is on display within Jorvik Viking Centre – will be broadcast online,” he says.

“So will craft workshops, learning spinning and leather working – with packs posted out before the event – and our lecture programme.  In many ways, these can reach a far wider audience than we can usually accommodate in our York venues, and we’re already seeing tickets for the symposium being bought by people all over the world.”

Reaching new audiences has been a key focus for That Jorvik Viking Thing, particularly the use of technology to help deliver the festival programme, with funding from Innovate UK and Arts Council England helping the Jorvik team to explore new opportunities, including the virtual visit. 

“When most museums talk about virtual visits, they use static 360-degree cameras at set locations for visitors to jump from place to place to view the collection from fixed perspectives,” says Gareth. 

Hapless VIking Arnor, whose adventures feature in a new short film at That Jorvik Viking Thing

“We’ve been working with a local company, Vidaveo, to create a completely immersive version of our ride through Viking-age York.  Using a smart phone, tablet or even a VR [virtual reality] headset, you can ‘ride’ in one of our time capsules with our resident Viking guide, Fastulf, for the sounds and sights of 10th century Coppergate. The only thing we can’t include are the smells.”

Best-selling children’s authors are giving their support to That Jorvik Viking Thing, in the form of Cressida Cowell, Francesca Simon, Hilary Robinson, David MacPhail, Robert J Harris and Paul Tillery IV all recording extracts from their Norse-themed children’s books. 

The Jorvikanory videos will be available throughout the week, as will a series of podcasts, one featuring Horrible Histories author Terry Deary.

In light of York Archaeological Trust’s attractions being closed, ticket sales from premium events will provide an important source of income.  “Our two main fundraisers are the Evening with Einar Selvik, which has created quite a stir around the globe, and a special Mead Tasting Evening with the Lancashire Mead Company,” says Gareth.

Jorvik Viking Centre’s resident Skald retells The Saga Of Refr The Sly

“Participants in that evening will receive a box of mead samples, delivered to their home, and then receive expert tutelage on the mead-brewing process and flavours created.  Our original allocation of tickets sold out very quickly, so we have doubled capacity for this event, and only have a small handful of tickets left.” 

A virtual tour of Jorvik Viking Centre by Dr Chris Tuckley is proving “incredibly popular”. He will leave the time capsules behind to walk visitors around the attraction, pointing out detail – based on real archaeological evidence – that went into reconstructing the past. 

Other online content available for the first time will includes a series of Meet The Vikings films, exploring crafts, weapons, food and many other aspects of Viking life; an adventure with the hapless Arnor, as he hunts around his village for a lost ring, and two live Twitch sessions where experts review Norse-themed computer games from 1984’s Viking Raiders to 2020’s Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla to test authenticity and fun. 

A chapter from a traditional Viking saga, The Saga Of Refr The Sly, will be released each day to encourage visitors to return.

Jorvik Viking Festival normally takes place during the school holidays, so the York Archaeological Trust education team took the opportunity to create a special preview event, That Jorvik Viking Thing: School’s Week, that ran from February 8 to 12, offering free content, such as twice-daily live-streamed presentations for schools and home educators across the world. 

Much of the pre-recorded content of That Jorvik Viking Thing went live at 10am today and will remain accessible until midnight on Sunday, February 21 at jorvikthing.com, where tickets for paid-for events can be booked. Visitors to That Jorvik Viking Thing can donate to York Archaeological Trust online.

For full details of the That Jorvik Viking Thing programme, go to: jorvikthing.com

Terry Deary: Podcast for That Jorvik Viking Thing

More Things To Do in and around York eventually and deep into lockdown at home now. List No. 26, courtesy of The Press

Worrying times : Story Craft Theatre’s Janet Bruce, left, and Cassie Vallance to present four half-term Crafty Tales sessions built around The Worrysaurus

SNOWHERE to go in freezing-cold Lockdown 3, except for yet another regulation walk and Chai Latte, as the live arts remain in pandemic hibernation, Charles Hutchinson looks online and ahead to bolster his sparse diary.

Online half-term fun, part one: Story Craft Theatre’s Crafty Tales, The Worrysaurus, February 17 to 20, 10am to 11am

YORK children’s theatre company Story Craft Theatre are running four storytelling and craft-making sessions on Rachel Bright’s The Worrysaurus on Zoom over half-term.

Janet Bruce and Cassie Vallance will begin each session for two to seven-year-old children with the Crafty Tales song and a butterfly craft-making session, followed by the interactive story of the little Worrysaurus dealing with butterflies in the tummy. Cue songs, games, dancing and fun galore.

The February 17 session is fully booked; prompt booking is advised for the other three at bookwhen.com/storycrafttheatre.

Wizard and Frog: Magic Carpet Theatre’s Jon Marshall and his amphibian accompanist in The Wizard Of Castle Magic

Online half-term fun, part two: Magic Carpet Theatre, The Wizard Of Castle Magic, streaming from February 18

MAGIC Carpet Theatre and Pocklington Arts Centre (PAC) are teaming up for a free online streaming event for the February half-term.

The Hull company’s family show The Wizard Of Castle Magic will be shown on PAC’s  YouTube channel from Thursday, February 18 at 2.30pm, available to view for 14 days until March 4.

Filmed live at PAC behind closed doors by Pocklington production company Digifish last autumn, director Jon Marshall performs an enchanting show based on the traditional Sorcerer’s Apprentice tale for children aged three to 11 and their families with a script packed with comedy, illusion and special theatrical effects. 

Solo show: Harpist Cecile Saout will be playing at Opera North‘s ONe-to-ONe online home performances in Lockdown 3

Opera North goes home: ONe-to-ONe personal live performances on Zoom, February 15 to February 27

OPERA North is launching ONe-to-ONe, a digital initiative to bring live performance into homes across the country during Lockdown 3.

ONe-to-ONe will provide personal online performances delivered by members of the Chorus and Orchestra of Opera North, with slots available to book at operanorth.co.uk.

From a cappella arias and folk songs to Bach cello suites and a marimba solo, the recipient will be treated to a free virtual solo at a time of their choice, performed by a professional musician over Zoom.

Something fishy this way comes: Six Sprats, by Giles Ward, from Blue Tree Gallery’s online show, Revive

Online exhibition of the season: Revive, curated by Blue Tree Gallery, Bootham, York, until March 13

BLUE Tree Gallery’s latest online show, Revive, is bringing together paintings by artist-in-residence Giuliana Lazzerini, Steve Tomlinson, James Wheeler and Giles Ward.

Memory and imagination come to interplay in Lazzerini’s landscapes; the sea and the “associated physical and emotional experiences it brings” inform Tomlinson’s work; memory and desire in the light and atmosphere mark out Glaswegian Wheeler’s landscapes; the natural world inspires Giles Ward’s experimental, other-worldly paintings.

Revive can be viewed online at pyramidgallery.com, and artworks are being displayed in the gallery and gallery windows for those passing by.

Courtney Marie Andrews: New date for her Pocklington Arts Centre gig

Rearranged gig: Courtney Marie Andrews, Pocklington Arts Centre, June 17

PHOENIX country singer Courtney Marie Andrews has moved her Pocklington gig from June 17 2020 to exactly one year later, on the back of being newly crowned International Artist of the Year at the 2021 UK Americana Awards.

Courtney, 30, will perform the Grammy-nominated Old Flowers, her break-up album released last July, on her return to Pocklington for the first time since December 2018.

In the quietude of an emptied 2020 diary, she completed her debut poetry collection, Old Monarch, set for publication by Simon & Schuster on May 13.

York River Art Market: Artists and makers sought for summer return

Down by the river: York River Art Market call-out for artists

YORK River Art Market 2021 is issuing a call-out to artists for this summer’s riverside event on Dame Judi Dench Walk, Lendal Bridge, York.

After a barren 2020, the organisers have announced plans to return for markets on June 26; July 3, 24, 25 and 31, and August 1, 7, 14, 21 and 28, when 30-plus artists will be selling original art and hand-crafted goods at each stalls day.

Applications to take part should be emailed to yorkriverart@gmail.com with three quality images of your work; a few sentences about your art; links to your digital platforms, and your preferred choice of dates, listed in the YRAM biography on its Facebook page.

Glenn Tilbrook: The Crescent awaits in March 2022

Making plans for next year: Glenn Tilbrook, The Crescent, York, March 13 2022

SQUEEZE up, make room for Glenn Tilbrook, freshly booked into The Crescent for next March.

One half of the Tilbrook-Difford song-writing partnership known as Deptford’s answer to Lennon and McCartney, singer, songwriter and guitarist Tilbrook, 63, can draw on a catalogue boasting the likes of Take Me I’m Yours; Cool For Cats; Goodbye Girl; Up The Junction; Pulling Mussels; Another Nail In My Heart; Tempted; Labelled With Love and Black Coffee In Bed.

Expect picks from his solo works, The Incomplete Glenn Tilbrook, Transatlantic Ping-Pong, Pandemonium Ensues and Happy Ending, too.

Celeste: Number one album

And what about?

DISCOVERING debut albums by rising British stars Celeste (the chart-topping Not Your Muse on Polydor Records) and Arlo Parks (Collapsed In Sunbeams on Transgressive Records). Revelling in the soundtrack while crying your way through Russell T Davies’s five-part mini-series It’s A Sin on Channel 4. Savouring Joe Root’s batting against spin in the return of Test Match Cricket to Channel 4 as England take on India.

More Things To Do in and around York and while stuck with “staying home”. Lockdown List No. 25, courtesy of The Press, York

Flood, mixed-media monotype, by Lesley Birch, from Muted Worlds, her joint exhibition with ceramicist Emily Stubbs, running initially online and then at Pyramid Gallery, Stonegate, York

LOCKDOWN 3 plods on with no end in sight deep amid the winter chill, drawing Charles Hutchinson’s gaze to online events, a writing opportunity and the promise of live entertainment somewhere down the line.

Online lockdown exhibition at the double: Emily Stubbs and Lesley Birch, Muted Worlds, for Pyramid Gallery, York

CERAMICIST Emily Stubbs and artist Lesley Birch have teamed up for Muted Worlds, a lockdown exhibition of pots and paintings that has begun as a digital show from their studios before moving to Terry Bretts’s gallery in Stonegate, once Lockdown 3 strictures are eased. 

Ceramicist Emily Stubbs: Muted Worlds exhibitor and York Open Studios participant

“This is a show with a more muted edge,” say Emily and Lesley. “Winter is here and with it, Covid, and another lockdown, so we feel the need for simplicity. We have collaborated to produce monochrome pieces inspired by the winter season.”

Looking ahead, Emily will be taking part in  York Open Studios this summer, showing her ceramics at 51 Balmoral Terrace.

Rowntree Park: Hosting the Friends of Rowntree Park’s Words From A Bench project

Creative project of the winter season: Friends of Rowntree Park’s Words From A Bench project

THE Friends of Rowntree Park invite you to join the Words From A Bench project by submitting a short story or poem based around themes of the York park, the outdoors, nature and escape.

No more than 1,000 words in length, the works will be displayed in the park. Adults and children alike should send entries by February 15 to hello@rowntreepark.org.uk.

Mary Coughlan: Irish singer has had to rearrange her Pocklington Arts Centre concert for a second time

Gigs on the move: Pocklington Arts Centre re-writing 2021 diary

POCKLINGTON Arts Centre is re-scheduling concerts aplenty in response to the relentless grip of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Irish chanteuse Mary Coughlan’s April 23 show is being moved to October 19; the Women In Rock tribute show, from May 21 to October 29; New York singer-songwriter Jesse Malin, from February 2 to December 7, and Welsh singer-songwriter Martyn Joseph, from February 12 to December 2. Tickets remain valid for the rearranged dates.

A new date is yet to be arranged for the postponed February 23 gig by The Delines, Willy Vlautin’s country soul band from Portland, Oregon. Watch this space.

At sixes and sevens: The Gesualdo Six with director Owain Park (third from left, back row)

Early notice of online Early Music Day at National Centre for Early Music, York, March 21

THE Gesualdo Six will lead the NCEM’s celebrations for Early Music Day 2021 on March 21 by embarking on an online whistle-stop musical tour of York.

The Cambridge vocal consort’s concert will be a streamed at 3pm as part of a day when musical organisations throughout Europe will come together for a joyful programme of events to mark JS Bach’s birthday. 

During their residency, The Gesualdo Six will spend almost a week in York performing in a variety of locations on a musical tour of the city that will be filmed and shared in March.

Monster and Minster beyond: A B-movie bridge drama on the Ouse by the alliteratively named Lincoln Lightfoot, one of the debutants in York Open Studios 2021, now moved to July

Better late than never: York Open Studios, switching from spring to summer

CELEBRATING the 20th anniversary of Britain’s longest-running open studios, York’s artists are determined to go ahead with York Open Studios 2021, especially after a barren year in 2020, when doors had to stay shut in Lockdown 1.

Consequently, the organisers are switching the two weekends from April 17/18 and 24/25 to July 10/11 and July 17/18, when more than 140 artists and makers will show and sell their work within their homes and workspaces in an opportunity for art lovers and the curious to “enjoy fresh air, meet artists and view and buy unique arts and crafts from York’s very best artisans”.

Midge Ure: Opening his Voice & Visions Tour at the Grand Opera House, York

Planning ahead for next year, part one: Midge Ure & Band Electronica, Grand Opera House, York

MIDGE Ure & Band Electronica will open next year’s Voice & Visions Tour at the Grand Opera House, York, on February 22, when the 67-year-old Scotsman will be marking 40 years since the release of Ultravox’s Rage In Eden and Quartet albums in September 1981 and October 1982 respectively.

Ure & Band Electronica last played the Opera House in October 2019 on The 1980 Tour, when Ultravox’s 1980 album, Vienna, was performed in its entirety for the first time in four decades, complemented by highlights from Visage’s debut album, as Ure recalled the year when he co-wrote, recorded and produced the two future-sounding records.

Tommy Emmanuel: York gig awaits for fingerstyle Australian guitarist

Planning ahead for next year, part two: Tommy Emmanuel at Grand Opera House, York

AUSTRALIAN guitarist Tommy Emmanuel, 65, will play the Grand Opera House, York, on March 6 2022 in the only Yorkshire show of next year’s12-date tour with special guest Jerry Douglas, the Ohio dobro master.

At 44, Emmanuel became one of only five musicians to be named a Certified Guitar Player by his idol, Chet Atkins. Playing fingerstyle, he frequently threads three different guitar parts simultaneously into his material, handling melody, supporting chords and bass all at once.

Steven Devine: Harpsichordist pictured when recording at the NCEM, York

Online concert series of the season: Steven Devine, Bach Bites, National Centre for Early Music, York, Fridays

EVERY Friday at 1pm, until March 19, harpsichordist Steven Devine is working his way through J S Bach’s Fugues and Preludes in his online concert series. Find it on the NCEM’s Facebook stream.

And what about?

STAYING in, staying home, means TV viewing aplenty. Tuck into the French film talent agency frolics and frictions of Call My Agent! on Netflix and Scottish procedural drama Traces on the Beeb; be disappointed by Finding Alice on ITV.

More Things To Do indoors in and around York in Stay Home Lockdown 3. List No 24, courtesy of The Press, York

A Long night: Josie Long will be performing for the Your Place Comedy live-stream from her living room on January 24

AS LOCKDOWN 3 urges everyone to “stay home”, Charles Hutchinson takes that advice in selecting entertainment for the dark days and nights ahead.

Somewhere over the pandemic horizon, he highlights a couple of shows in the diary for the autumn.

Ahir Shah: Joining Josie Long in a remote double bill for Your Place Comedy

Live-stream lockdown humour from living room to living room: Josie Long and Ahir Shah, Your Place Comedy, January 24

LOCKDOWN 3 has brought another round of Your Place Comedy home entertainment. “As before, we’ll be broadcasting from comedians’ living rooms, kitchens and attics or, as was the case with Lucy Beaumont, her homemade pub,” says virtual comedy club organiser Chris Jones, Selby Town Council’s arts officer.

The format remains the same: two headline comedians, some stand-up and some chat, all juggled by regular compere Tim FitzHigham. First up will be Josie Long and Ahir Shah on January 24; line-ups are yet to be confirmed for February 28 and March 28.

The live-stream shows will be free to watch but with donations keenly encouraged at yourplacecomedy.co.uk.

Pea’s home; green: Story Craft Theatre storyteller Cassie Vallance looks forward to next week’s Crafty Tales session

Interactive stories for children: Story Craft Theatre’s Crafty Tales

CASSIE Vallance and Janet Bruce cannot hold their Crafty Tales sessions in person during Lockdown 3 but will continue to deliver sessions “directly to you via the power of Zoom”.

“Each 50-minute session is packed full of crafting, storytelling and educational fun with lots of activities to keep your little folk’s imagination alight,” says Cassie. “There are still a few spaces left for next week’s 10am sessions based around Julia Donaldson’s The Runaway Pea on January 20, 22 and 23.”

Coming up on January 27, 29 and 30 will be Elaine Wickson’s Super Stan. For more details and to book, go to storycrafttheatre.co.uk.

Parasols aplenty: A scene from the National Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Company production of The Pirates Of Penzance at the 2019 International Gilbert and Sullivan Festival, now available online. Picture: Jane Stokes

Operetta on screen: International Gilbert and Sullivan Festival, G&S Opera TV On-Line Streaming Service

WHEN the Coronavirus pandemic put paid to the 2020 International Gilbert and Sullivan Festival at Harrogate Royal Hall, the festival launched its online streaming subscription service at gsoperatv.

“New content is being continually added,” says festival stalwart Bernard Lockett. “It features the very best of more than 26 years of the National Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Company, along with top amateur productions performed at our festival, G&S films and fascinating documentaries and interviews, and is the only place to experience so many outstanding Savoy operas.”

The subscription rates for general viewers is £9.99 per month or £99 annuallyThe 2021 festival is in the diary for August 8 to 22 in Harrogate, preceded by Buxton Opera House the week before.

Chelsey Gillard: Stephen Joseph Theatre associate director, hosting online script-reading sessions

Play for the day appraisal: Online script-reading sessions, Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, from January 20

RUNNING online on Wednesdays from 11.30am to 1.30pm for five weeks, the fun sessions will dive into five classic comedies: Aristophanes’s Lysistrata on January 20; Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, January 27; Moliere’s Tartuffe, February 3; Sheridan’s The Rivals, February 10, and Feydeau’s A Flea In Her Ear, February 17.

Participants will read sections of the plays aloud and work with SJT associate director Chelsey Gillard to consider their themes, stories, writing styles and historical context in a relaxed discussion. Session bookings can be made at sjt.uk.com.

Clowning around: Jon Marshall’s Ringmaster with Steve Collison’s Clown in Magic Carpet Theatre’s Magic Circus

Online children’s show of the month: Magic Carpet Theatre in Magic Carpet, Pocklington Arts Centre YouTube channel

HULL company Magic Carpet Theatre filmed their fun family-friendly show, Magic Carpet, behind closed doors at Pocklington Arts Centre last October. By public demand, its free streaming run is being extended to January 21 at: youtu.be/CNrUixTMWdQ.

Performed by director Jon Marshall and Steve Collison with magical illusions, comedy, circus skills and puppets, it tells the humorous tale of what happens to the ringmaster’s extravaganza plans after the artistes and elephants fail to arrive and everything has to be left in the calamitous hands of the clowns. Disaster!

His master’s voices: Alan Ayckbourn recorded his audio version of Haunting Julia at home. Picture: Tony Bartholomew

Online ghost play of the season: Alan Ayckbourn’s Haunting Julia, Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough

ALAN Ayckbourn’s 2020 audio version of his ghost play Haunting Julia is being given an afterlife. Originally available at sjt.uk.com/event/1078/haunting_julia until January 5, the winter chiller now will be online until January 31.

Revisiting his 1994 play, Ayckbourn’s audio recording features the voice of the Stephen Joseph Theatre’s 81-year-old director emeritus. Or, rather, the three voices of Ayckbourn, who plays all three parts.

Rufus Wainwright: Songs inspired by middle age, married life, fatherhood, friends, loss, London and Laurel Canyon

Baroque’n’roll gig of the autumn: Rufus Wainwright, York Barbican, October 13

LAUREL Canyon singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright’s October 27 2020 tour date at York Barbican has moved to October 13 2021. Tickets remain valid for the rearranged date with his new band.

Last July, Wainwright, 47, released his ninth studio album, Unfollow The Rules, his first since 2012. “I consider it my first fully mature album; it is like a bookend to the beginning of my career,” says Rufus, whose fearless, mischievous songs were inspired by middle age, married life, fatherhood, friends, loss, London and Laurel Canyon.

Taking the mic: Omid Djalili looks forward to letting the Good Times roll again

Ready for a laugh: Omid Djalili, The Good Times Tour, Grand Opera House, York, November 10

OMID Djalili cannot wait to be back where he belongs, on stage, after experimenting with a Zoom gig where he was muted by no fewer than 639 people and a drive-in gig when he witnessed one audience member leave his car, attach a hose pipe to his exhaust and feed it through the window.

The British-Iranian stand-up’s 2021 excursions could not have a more positive title: The Good Times Tour. Let’s hope he is right, although who can predict if his shows at Harrogate Theatre on May 6 and Hull City Hall on May 26 will be given the go-ahead.

In his diary too are: Platform Festival, The Old Station, Pocklington, July 22, and Masham Town Hall, September 18 and 19. Oh, and Leeds Town Hall on October 28 in faraway 2022.

More Things To Do in and around York and at home in 2021, whatever barriers may yet lie ahead. List No 23, courtesy of The Press

Grayson Perry: Two shows in York in 2021; one an exhibition of “Lost Pots” at York Art Gallery, the other, his existentialist gig, A Show For Normal People, at York Barbican

AFTER a year where killjoy Covid-19 re-wrote the arts and events diary over and over again, here comes 2021, when the pandemic will still have a Red Pen influence.

Armed with a pantomime fairy’s magic wand rather than Madame Arcati’s crystal ball from Blithe Spirit, when what we need is a jab in the arm pronto, Charles Hutchinson picks out potential highlights from the New Year ahead that York will start in Tier 3.

Velma Celli: Had planned to present A Brief History Of Drag at Theatre @41 Monkgate in January; now heading online at home instead

Back on screen: Velma Celli, Large & Lit In Lockdown Again, streaming on January 8

AFTER his “Fleshius Creepius” panto villain in York Stage’s Jack And The Beanstalk, Ian Stroughair was planning to pull on his drag rags for a live Velma Celli show in January, and maybe more shows to follow, at his adopted winter home of Theatre @41 Monkgate.

Instead, he writes: “Darlings, as we head back into a lockdown in York, I am back on the streaming! My first show is next Friday at 8pm. I would love you to join me for an hour of camp cabaret fun! Get those requests and shout-outs in!” Tickets for Virtual Velma start at £10 via http://bit.ly/3nVaa4N; expect an online show every Friday from Ian’s new riverside abode.

Shed Seven: Headlining all-Yorkshire bill at The Piece Hall, Halifax, in the summer

Open-air one-off event of the summer: Shed Seven, The Piece Hall, Halifax, June 26

FRESH from releasing live album Another Night, Another Town as a reminder of what everyone has had to miss in 2020, Shed Seven have confirmed their Piece Hall headliner in Halifax has been rearranged for next summer.

The Sheds have picked an all-Yorkshire support bill of Leeds bands The Wedding Present and The Pigeon Detectives and fast-rising fellow York act Skylights. For tickets, go to lunatickets.co.uk or seetickets.com.

Cocktail Party 1989, copyright of Grayson Perry/Victoria Miro, from the Grayson Perry: The Pre-Therapy Years exhibition, opening at CoCA, York Art Gallery, in May

Most anticipated York exhibition of 2021: Grayson Perry: The Pre-Therapy Years, York Art Gallery, May 28 to September 5

CHANNEL 4’s  champion of people’s art in lockdown, Grayson Perry, will present his Covid-crocked 2020 exhibition of “lost pots” at the Centre of Ceramic Art (CoCA) next spring and summer instead.

The Pre-Therapy Years reassembles Perry’s earliest forays into ceramics; 70 “explosive and creative works” he made between 1982 and 1994. Look out too for the potter, painter, TV presenter and social commentator’s existentialist September 6 gig at York Barbican: Grayson Perry: A Show For Normal People, wherein he will “distract you from the very meaninglessness of life in the way only a man in a dress can”.

Chris Moreno: No festive cheer at Christmas, but now he looks forward to presenting The Great Yorkshire Easter Pantomime, Aladdin, on Knavesmire, York, in spring 2021

A pantomime in the spring? Yes, The Great Yorkshire Easter Pantomime in a tent on Knavesmire, York, March 19 to April 11

CHRIS Moreno, director of Three Bears’ Productions four pantomimes at the Grand Opera House from 2016 to 2019, will direct York’s first ever “tentomime”, Aladdin, this spring with a cast of “21 colourful characters”.

The Great Yorkshire Easter Pantomime will be presented in the luxurious, heated Tented Palace, Knavesmire, in a socially distanced configuration compliant with Covid-19 guidance.

The big top will have a capacity of 976 in tiered, cushioned seating, while the stage will span 50 metres, comprising a palace façade, projected scenery and magical special effects. Look out for the flying carpets.

Going solo: Julie Hesmondhalgh in The Greatest Play In The History Of The World at York Theatre Royal from February 16

Falling in love again with theatre: The Love Season at York Theatre Royal, February 14 to April 21

ON December 15, York Theatre Royal announced plans to reopen on St Valentine’s Day for The Love Season, with the audience capacity reduced from 750 to a socially distanced 345.

Full details will be confirmed in the New Year with tickets going on sale on January 8, and that remains the case, says chief executive Tom Bird, after hearing yesterday afternoon’s statement to the House of Commons by Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

“We’re carrying on with our plans, including presenting Coronation Street and Broadchurch actor Julie Hesmondhalgh in husband Ian Kershaw’s one-woman play, The Greatest Play In The History Of The World, from February 16 to 20,” he confirmed.

Van Morrison: A brace of bracing nights at York Barbican in May

Six of the best at York Barbican in 2021

YORK Barbican has remained closed since the March lockdown, foregoing even the UK Snooker Championships in November and December.

A reopening date is yet to be announced but mark these shows in your diary, if only in pencil: Rob Brydon, A Night Of Songs & Laughter, April 14; Jimmy Carr, Terribly Funny, May 2; country duo The Shires, May 23; Van Morrison, May 25 and 26; Paul Weller, June 29, and Rufus Wainwright, Unfollow The Rules Tour, October 13.

Ceramicist Beccy Ridsdel: Looking forward to the 20th anniversary of York Open Studios

Anniversary celebration of the year: York Open Studios, April 17 and 18; 24 and 25, 10am to 5pm

2020 turned into a virtual Open Studios with displays online and in windows, but already 140 artists and makers are confirmed for the 20th anniversary event in the spring when they will show and sell their work within their homes and workspaces.

Many of 2020’s selected artists have deferred their space to 2021, but new additions will be announced soon, the website teases. “We’re channelling the optimism and enthusiasm from all our artists to ensure this year’s 20th show is one of the best,” says event co-founder and ceramicist Beccy Ridsdel.

Dr Delma Tomlin: Administrative director of the 2021 York Early Music Festival, running from July 9 to 17

And what about?

Festivals galore, as always, in the self-anointed “City of Festivals”. Coming up are the Jorvik Viking Festival; York Fashion Week; York Literature Festival; York Early Music Festival; York Festival of Ideas, the Aesthetica Short Film Festival and more besides.