How does the Beckenham Festival work?

The Beckenham Festival is a registered charity. It has three major sections, Music, Dancing and Speech & Drama. Each section has its own sub-committee run by volunteers, and there is a main committee that oversees matters relating to the Festival as a whole. The Music section is further divided into 7 sub-sections, each with its own section organiser. Each section or sub-section consists of competitive classes, some of them open to all comers, others limited by age, by grade or level of performance, or by type of performance (e.g. piano duet, improvised dance, etc.). Each year there are usually around 2000 entries, spread over 400 classes. You can enter as many classes as you like, subject to being eligible. Each section and sub-section is judged by a professional adjudicator, who will provide a written report and, time permitting, a verbal assessment of each performance, and award appropriate graded certificates to each competitor. Many classes carry medals or trophies in addition to certificates, provided a high enough standard is reached. Winners of 1st, 2nd and 3rd places are normally announced at the end of each class. Festival Rules

When is the Beckenham Festival held?

The Festival is held in October (Dancing) and November (Music and Speech & Drama), at weekends and occasionally on Friday evenings.

How do I enter the Festival?

Online entry is available for Music and Dancing sections, see those sections’ pages. Please use the online entry facility if possible as it speeds up the processing time for us. Otherwise postable entry forms can be downloaded from this website. You should only include multiple entries on one such form where the Festival’s contact name and address is the same for all of them, otherwise complete one form for each Festival contact and send them separately to the appropriate addresses as shown for that section.

What if I miss the closing date?

On the closing date the entry forms will be withdrawn from the website, and no late entries can be accepted. With some sections that are oversubscribed, Dancing in particular, entries may close earlier than the official closing date once maximum numbers have been reached.

Can I submit conditional entries?

No, entries submitted conditionally, for example on condition that the class will be held on a particular date or time of day, cannot be accepted under any circumstances.

How will I know where to go and when?

Each section organiser to whom you have submitted entries will notify you as soon as possible after entries have closed, advising you of the date, time and venue of the class or classes that you have entered. Please contact the relevant section organiser if you have not received this notification three weeks before your section is due to be held.

What happens on the day?

You should arrive in plenty of time to park, and to find your way to the appropriate room or hall, and to make contact with your accompanist if you have one. Only limited warm up facilities are available at Marian Vian School, and if you are using the services of the official accompanist there are no facilities for rehearsal with them. Occasionally classes may overrun, causing subsequent classes to start late, but no class will start early unless all competitors are present. Your name will be called when it is your turn to perform.

Will I be able to park when I arrive?

There are car parks at Langley Park and Marian Vian Schools, and some on-street parking is available subject to local restrictions. St George’s Church is close to a public pay and display car park, but on-street parking in the area is limited.

What if I turn up late for the class?

Don’t panic – if you do it will almost certainly affect your performance. Whilst some classes last only a few minutes where there are a small number of entries, others may continue for an hour or even more, so you may still be in time. If you’ve missed your turn, your name will be called again after all other competitors have finished performing. Of course, once the adjudicator has completed his or her decision and marking, then no more performances will be allowed to start. If you arrive late do not enter the performance room while others are performing, wait outside until you hear applause and then indicate to the door steward that you wish to enter the room. No refunds of entry fees can be entertained if you are unable to perform.

How is the order of performance decided?

Each section organiser will decide the order of performance once all entries are received.

What if I am ill?

Your entry fee cannot be refunded once your entry has been accepted, whether due to illness or for any other reason.

Do I need to bring a music stand?

No, unless you are part of a large group of performers. If in doubt check with the section organiser.

Do I need to bring a CD player?  (Dance section only)

No, a CD player with speakers will be provided and only this equipment may be used. It will be operated by a Festival representative. Only one recording per CD is allowed.

How long should my performance be?

Where there is a time limit for a class this is indicated in the class details. The smooth running of the Festival is dependant on accurate timing of the programme. Do not exceed the time limit, as the adjudicator may ask you to stop if you do so, and may penalise you if you abuse this rule.

In Graded Classes can I play my exam pieces?

Yes, recent exam pieces, or pieces that you are currently preparing for examination may be used. If in doubt ask your teacher.

Can I perform the same piece in more than one class?

No, not in the same year. Nor can you perform any item with which you have won First Prize within the last three years (except in the Dancing section).

Does the Festival provide accompanists?

Yes, in most Music sub-sections there are official accompanists, for which an additional fee is payable with your entry. The fee will depend on the type of class, and details are shown on the Official Accompanists page here. This fee covers the performance only, and any arrangements for prior rehearsal are made privately between you and the accompanist. Bear in mind that the official accompanist will be playing for other competitors on the day and will not be available for rehearsal on the day of your performance. It is important that you make early contact with the accompanist as soon as your entry is submitted to provide them with copies of music, and to arrange rehearsals if needed. Official accompanists may refuse to accompany you if they are not given copies of the music sufficiently early. Recorded accompaniments are not permitted, except as specifically indicated for Dancing (see above).

What about audience admission?

Friends, relatives and members of the public may purchase day tickets and section programmes on the door at any of the venues. Performers, teachers, and instrumental accompanists (Music section) do not pay an admission charge for the sessions in which they are involved.

Alternatively you may choose to become a Friend of the Beckenham Festival (currently £20 per year), which entitles you to free admission as a member of the audience to all classes at all venues throughout October and November, a free programme and entitlement to vote at the AGM.

If I win a medal or trophy, do I keep it?

Medals become your property and so may be kept indefinitely; but any Cup or Trophy you win remains the property of the Festival, so you keep it until a month before the start of the next year’s Festival when you must return it, clean and in good condition to the appropriate section organiser. Occasionally there is a split decision so that each winner holds the trophy for half the year. You will be asked to sign for the trophy before leaving the performance room. Trophies may not be taken out of the country. Space permitting, you are expected to have your name engraved on the trophy or its plinth after the name of the previous winner.

How does the marking system work?

Performances are graded as follows :
Below 75 marks - Performer’s Certificate (at adjudicator’s discretion)
75 - 79 marks - Proficiency Certificate
80 - 84 marks - Merit Certificate
85 - 89 marks - Honours Certificate
90 or more marks - Distinction Certificate
Only those obtaining Honours or Distinction grades are eligible for trophies and or medals in classes where these are available (except in Dancing section).

Can my performance be recorded?

No photography or video or audio recording will be allowed at the Festival. Mobile phones must be switched off in rooms where performances are taking place.

Can I use photocopies?

You are strongly advised to read the Festival Rules and additional section rules to be sure that you are complying with copyright law regarding the use of photocopies by yourself, by your accompanist, or in providing copies for the adjudicator.

Are refreshments available?

Light refreshments are available at Langley Park School, but not at the other venues. Please do not take food or drink into the performance rooms.