Image credit: Laura BowlesImage credit: Laura Bowles

Image credit: Laura Bowles

What was the first thing you did out of lockdown?

If you were one of the lucky ones who didn’t have work first thing Monday, you might have headed to the pub to get a pint at one minute past midnight. For the rest of us, Monday probably meant a return to the r*t-race- returning to the workplace and being incredibly grateful not to be stuck between the same four walls.

We’ve quickly returned to normal, and we’ve begun doing the things we appreciate so much; seeing our friends and family, heading to the pub, going to the gym (if you’re into that sort of thing… Soon, January will be simply remembered as the month where we all got really into Married at First Sight Australia (or just me?).

While it is undoubtedly lovely to return to the normal rhythms of life, there is more to life than just eat, work, pub, sleep, repeat. There is, among other things, the arts (please bear with me here- there’s a proper point to be made, but I’m also trying to justify my very expensive degree in the arts). Robin Williams said it best in Dead Poet’s Society, “Medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.”

Where, then, encapsulates the beauty of the arts on the island more beautifully than the VillaGaiety?

There’s a lot to love about the VG. It’s a combination of traditional and new: both architecturally and in spirit. The Gaiety Theatre is a Victorian delight, built by Frank Matcham (the big fella when it comes to theatre building). It has been beautifully restored, making it one of the island’s real gems. The arcade is equally beautiful, taking elements of Edwardian, art deco, and minimalist design to produce something truly spectacular. The Villa is also stunning- gliding down those stairs after a film makes you feel like Cinderella (even if you’re wearing trackies). It’s all set on beautiful grounds: where is a better place for a picnic on a summer’s day?

In spirit, the VillaGaiety is true to its roots, but has also adapted to its times. Generations of children have headed to the Gaiety for the panto: gaining their first experience of the theatre in absolutely gorgeous surroundings. The shows, both by amateur and professional companies, have truly been worthy of the world-class stage they were performed on. There have been some cracking gigs at the VG too- from music by British bands, to comedy by them lot from the telly, the VG has been the centre of many a cracking night out.

For obvious reasons, the island hasn’t seen entertainment come over for almost a year. The VG didn’t give up on entertaining the Great Manx Public however: instead they ramped up their commitment to highlighting local talent. The panto, which was under threat this year from the production company being unable to come to the island, was an absolute success. It was a genuinely impressive feat, with the pantomime being remotely directed and produced with a Manx cast and crew. The music hasn’t stopped: with local bands stepping up to lead the shows. 

The VG is also famous for hosting festivals: the guild, film, and beer festivals are all cracking. It is, however, the food festival that takes the top place in this hungry girl’s heart. I’m not alone, either- last year’s food festival was attended by a record 16,000 people. Where could be better to enjoy some local produce than in the gardens?

The VG is the true arty heart of Douglas. Whether it’s films, gigs or for a stomp around Dragon’s Castle (if you’re under 4ft..), we’re buzzing to get back to our favourite venue ❤️

In conjunction with the VillaGaiety Love at First Show Campaign

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