DarkFest Portsmouth Returns this Autumn

DarkFest Portsmouth Returns this Autumn


Later this month sees the return of Portsmouth DarkFest, a creative and cultural festival exploring all things dark, supernatural, and sinister. Inspired by the Supernatural Cities project at the University of Portsmouth, and working in close collaboration with Portsmouth Writers’ Hub and artists from 1000 Plateaus, the festival will bring together a diverse range of artists, writers, performers, academics, storytellers and paranormal investigators to explore ghost stories, urban legends, crime, horror and history.

Celebrating creativity in Southsea and Portsmouth, events include storytelling, live music and performances, public talks, ghost walks, film screenings, plays, art exhibitions, and creative workshops. The festival runs in venues across the city from 26th October to 30th November and all events are open to the public. Check the listing for the different events below and also visit their Facebook Page to keep up to date with DarkFest going ons.

…events include storytelling, live music and performances, public talks, ghost walks, film screenings, plays, art exhibitions, and creative workshops…

DarkFest 2017

26th October
The Front Room : Cure or be Cured
Southsea Castle, 7pm-10:30pm, £8 or £6 concessions

‘Cure or be Cured’ will be an evening of spoken word, film projections and immersive theatre all inspired by the iconic Plague Doctors who tried to cure sufferers of the Black Death in the 14th Century. The Front Room will present a programme of ‘healing rituals’ in the atmospheric setting of Southsea Castle. You are invited to find sanctuary in the courtyard from the ‘plague’ and all other horrors that lurk in the night…

Acts include:
-The Fire Poet aka Londoner Philip Wells
-Jidos Reality aka Majid Dhana
-The Metaverse Project aka Jenna Lions and Alistair Winter
-The Vulture is a Patient Bird
-Will Sutton
-Scott Jowett
-Jackson Davies
-Christine Lawrence
-Alan Morris
– Matt Wingett (our master of ceremonies)

There will also be original film and projections by Dr Lighthouse, inspired by a unique and chilling narrative by Eilis Phillips. And, Dark Encounters Jonathan Fost will direct immersive theatre to guide you on your journey of ‘Cure or be Cured.’ Costume is encouraged.

Tickets now available HERE.

27th October
The Science of the Spirits – Conan Doyle and Lombroso’s Ghosts
Portsmouth Temple of Spiritualism, 7-9pm, £3

Join local historian Matt Wingett and crime writer and criminologist Dr Diana Bretherick as they explore the fascinating relationship between the world of crime, science and a belief in spirits. Lombroso was the world’s first modern scientific criminologist who also investigated ghosts and spirits.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the inventor of Sherlock Holmes, was also a fervent believer in the paranormal and often mentioned Lombroso as an inspiration. Delve into the Victorian world of science, pseudo-science and spirit and discover two Victorian scientists who believed anything was possible.

Pay on the door.

28th October
Crime Fact, Crime Fiction
Ashcroft Centre, Fareham, 12-4pm, £10

Hear crime writers and criminologists compare notes on crime and criminals past and present, watch chilling local crime tales with The Theatre of Dark Encounters and browse our stand and bookshop – all that and cake too!

Find out more and book online HERE.

28th October
The Snow Witch – Book Launch
Blackwells Bookshop, Portsmouth, 6:30-8pm, FREE

Celebrate the approach of Winter, Hallowe’en and all things magical and strange at the launch of The Snow Witch, the latest novel by writer Matt Wingett.

Discover the history of herbalism, listen to live music and hear a Q and A session about this magic realist book with Matt Wingett and Portsmouth University’s Dr Karl Bell.

Drinks, nibbles, signings and the scent of magical herbs all to be enjoyed on the night.

28th October
Wedge Monster Halloween Party – Free Entry
Wedgewood Rooms, 10pm-3am, £5 or Free in Costume

The Wedgewood Rooms annual massive Halloween blowout 2017!

Utter carnage with live music from Thee Sultan Sheiks blasting out Halloween-style covers, Fire Shows, & It’s A Sin DJs playing anything and everything from Sin’s 80s and 90s classics through to modern dirty bass smashers from Hitfaced.

2 Punk 2 Twerk pure pop-punk night with a cult following. Kerri Knight is at the controls.

ENTRY IS FREE IF YOU’RE DRESSED UP FOR HALLOWEEN or £5 if you’re not so get in the spirit of things and go party hard.  ID essential – friendly vibes only – R.O.A.R.

29th October
Trash Arts – Conspiracy X Screening
The Loft, Kings in Albert Road, 7:30-10:30pm, FREE

Trash Arts are proud to offer a test screening for their latest horror anthology Conspiracy X! A documentarian is asked to meet a whistle blower leaking the truth of some of the worlds most dangerous conspiracies. Featuring 10 international directors!

7.30- DOORS.

30th October
Day of the Dead V: Blood Runs Thicker
The Square Tower, 6-8pm, £8/£4 Concessions

Envy and elegies, guile, ghouls and groove. Stories and songs.

Doors open 5.45 for:
Refreshments at The Square Tower.
Books from Blackwell’s in Portsmouth.
Dark Arts by James Waterfield from Lawn of the Dead UK.
Costumier advice from Head Case Curios.
Pixel Art with Kendal James of Eyecandy.

Unbeatable line-up of writers & musicians, book your tickets HERE.

31st October
Get Out Halloween Screening
Portsmouth Film Society, Eldon Building, 7pm – 9pm, £6

Now that Chris and his girlfriend, Rose, have reached the meet-the-parents milestone of dating, she invites him for a weekend getaway upstate with Missy and Dean. At first, Chris reads the family’s overly accommodating behaviour as nervous attempts to deal with their daughter’s interracial relationship, but as the weekend progresses, a series of increasingly disturbing discoveries lead him to a truth that he could have never imagined.

A perfect film for Halloween, which is brilliantly effective, and entertaining horror/comedy thrill ride for. With special introduction talk from Dr. Karl Bell, part of the Darkfest. Order your tickets HERE.

2nd November
The Front Room -Dark Town Port Town
Aurora Southsea, Albert Road, 7:30-10:15pm, £5/£4 Concessions

The Front Room will respond to Portsmouth’s month long DarkFest by presenting an event inspired by Port Towns including Portsmouth. We look at the theme of Dark Towns, Port Towns.  Confirmed performers will be the headliner the very up and coming Katie Gill (Portsmouth born and now London based). Other headline act will be Maggie Sawkins.

Music will be by James George who has his own brand of melancholy and uplifting songs. With a past including the duo of aptly named ‘ Ghost of Ruby’, James recently played Victorious as a guest of Strong Island. Other supports confirmed are writers and storytellers Diane Bretherick and Christine Lawrence.

Open Mic slots available. Register between 7 and 7.30pm.
Tickets on the door.

2nd November
The Portsmouth Ghost Walk
The Square Tower, Old Portsmouth, From 7:30pm, From £15

It is 1813… and this is a Ghost Walk with a difference… you will not only hear dark tales of murder and hauntings but you will be immersed into the murky world of Georgian England and the World of Nelson.

Join The Theatre of Dark Encounters for an evening as they take you into a dark underworld of smugglers, pirates and prostitutes. Every street in Spice Island was full of Ale Houses, ‘Cat’ Houses and Chapels, but amongst these narrows streets rival gangs would compete for the trade of the thousands of sailors disembarking every week. You will hear dark stories of history that lay hidden beneath the tourist streets of Portsmouth, stories of what happened to some of these sailors before they disappeared forever.

The ghost walk will last approximately 1 – 1.5 hours and involves interaction with actors and group participation – this tours offers a unique perspective to the city after dark. Suitable for 12 years and up when accompanied by an adult.

Book tickets HERE.

3rd November – 9th November
The Dark Arts Exhibition
Hunter Gatherer Coffee, Albert Road, 7pm, FREE

The darker side of the arts are exhibiting for one week only at Hunter Gatherer Coffee as part of Portsmouth’s Dark Fest. Join the DarkArts team on their opening night Friday 3rd November at 7pm or pop in during the week.

11th November
Hampshire Alternative Steampunk Gothic and Metal Fayre
Angel Clothing, Fratton Road, 12-5pm, FREE

The Hampshire Alternative Steampunk Gothic and Metal Fayre, upstairs at Angel Clothing. A great selection of alternative traders with lots of great Steampunk, Metal, Gothic and Alternative clothing, jewellery, accessories and more. Food and drink available throughout the day.

12th November
Dark Songs ii: Dark & Twisted
The Square Tower, 6 – 8:15pm, £6/£4 Concessions

Dark songs, brilliant songwriters.

Jamie & the Jets: introspective maladies, extrovert melodies
Eilís Phillips: sweet & ethereal monster folk
Radio KWG: the poetic trio follow up Road Songs (Geoff Allnutt)
WordBass: winsome words, double bass, double trouble (Maggie Sawkins)
Janet Ayers & Matt Parsons
Philip Jeays: poetic sensibility, acerbic wit, what a bastard
Edelle McMahon Heartbreak and reflection; lyrical folk songs bursting with imagery
Richard Peirce & Chris Collier
Pete Kelly & Gothamistic.: ‘and now for something a little different from the darkside’

Hosted by William Sutton, Author. Book tickets HERE.

15th November
A Dark Twist on a Spoken Word and Music
Hunter Gatherer Coffee, Albert Road, 7 – 9pm, FREE

It is a year since the launch of the Dark Cities Anthology. To celebrate they will be holding a spoken word event at Hunter Gatherer. The evil fiends behind the DarkFest have consulted the oracle to find the most talented, the most twisted, the most dark performers in the city. This performance is in collaboration with Darkfest, Portsmouth University and Portsmouth Writing Hub.

Artists includes: Roz Ryszka-Onions; Helen Salsbury, Susan Shipp, Margaret Jennings, Clare Campbell-Collins, Alison Habens and Jules Garvey-Welch.

Music by Will Sutton and Matt Wingett.

18th November
Murder on the Warrior
HMS Warrior, 7:30 – 10:30pm, £70 (inc. 3 Course Meal & Wine)

The year is 1883 and Captain Black feels life is going well. He has a good ship, a great crew, and the star of a loving family. Captain Black has asked guests to a party to make an announcement. Amongst them are; Theodore Teal – a brilliant navigating Lieutenant, Ms Alice Clover – Black’s strong willed daughter, Lieutenant Frank Grape – a brash engineer, Mrs Kathrin Crimson-Black – Black’s traditional wife, Miss Ella Snow – the best friend to his wife, and Percy Amber – the ship’s surgeon with no training.

Everything seems to be going well for Black. But is this just the calm before the storm?

Find out more and book tickets HERE.


  1. […] over the university (and beyond) and is heavily involved in many cultural events across the city. Darkfest is our big public festival each year, but we also have a yearly academic conference, this year […]

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