Final Report 2016

Overview

Write Along The Highway (WATH) is a festival of writing events hosted by a collective of Western Australian libraries who have united to celebrate National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Together we support and promote the local literary industry by encouraging community and professional development of our writers residing in Western Australia. WATH presents a series of write-ins, author talks, workshops, and events throughout October, November and December. Bringing writers together to write, to create, to learn, and to grow.

Information Sessions

Rebecca Laffar-Smith facilitated four information sessions in October at participating libraries. Rebecca gave an informative talk about how the project works and how interested people could benefit from participating. Participants were invited to ask questions of both organisers and NaNoWriMo veterans. They were also given an opportunity to network with fellow writers and find out more about upcoming events spanning the Write Along The Highway calendar.
Total Attendance: Exact numbers unknown – full stats not collected (3 sessions – Kwinana, Riverton, Thornlie, and Fremantle – 1 cancelled ‘low bookings/repeat venue’)

Kick-Off Party

On the 1st of November, the NaNoWriMo portion of the writers’ festival kicked off with a well-attended Kick-Off Party. The party involved a primary focus on writing with all attendees expected to bring their NaNoWriMo project on the night and work toward establishing a good foundation of words. The event was facilitated and catered by volunteer, Rebecca Laffar-Smith with food platters, cake, and sweets. We give thanks to the City of Fremantle who donated the Town Hall Reception Room venue and also catered sandwiches.
Total Attendance: 46

Expos

We hosted the Gosnells Writers Circle Self-Publishing Expo in November. The Gosnells Writers Circle presented a series of stalls for one-on-one Q&A and networking opportunities however the feedback from this event reflected significant issues in the organisation, promotion, and set up of this event, which directly affected attendance, and may significantly influence decisions to run this again in future.
Total Attendance: Approx. 46 (1 expo)

Write-Ins

Participating libraries made welcoming spaces available for ‘write-in’ sessions throughout November. Spaces provided comfortable seating, tables, access to power, and refreshments to allow for comfortable writing sessions and conversation. Writing tends to be a solitary gig and the ‘write-ins’ give motivation, community, support, and dedicated time to help participants achieve their goals.
Total Attendance: Exact numbers unknown – full stats not collected (12 sessions)

Workshops

The majority of Workshops were held in October to help writers prepare for NaNoWriMo. In October the workshops focused on the craft of writing particularly with regard to plot and character development to allow writers to develop their ideas. This year we branched into some children’s writing, memoir, and graphic novel explorations of fiction that were well received.
Total Attendance: Exact numbers unknown – full stats not collected (9 workshops)

Author Talks

The majority of Author Talks were held in November with a primary focus on encouraging and motivating writers to get the words written. Some events had exceptional attendance with a clear sign that these opportunities to hear from emerging and established authors appeals to both writers and the wider audience of readers and fans. Speaker experiences were also very positive.
Total Attendance: Exact numbers unknown – full stats not collected (12 talks – 1 cancelled(illness))

Write Night

On Thursday November 24th we held our major event for Write Along The Highway. Write Night 2016 was a three-hour event that consisted of writing challenges, games, and a panel of literary experts as well as prizes and goodies for all participants. It was generally agreed by those in attendance that the narrow confines of three hours was more constricting on the structure and that the 6pm to 10pm timeslot of past Write Nights is preferred. We give thanks to the City of South Perth for donating the venue for the night and thanks to our sponsors for donations of prizes and goodies. We were very pleased with attendance numbers this year, Write Night has always been very warmly received with wonderful feedback, but we will again consider changes that could lead to even better attendance in future years.
Total Attendance: Exact numbers unknown – full stats not collected

More statistical data

The collection of contact information and attendance confirmation was more sporadic at all events this year. Without a project coordinator compiling that information it is difficult to measure the full potential for growth of the database. There was however, increasing interest in the festival with new members joining the mailing list or Facebook group almost doubling.
Facebook Group Members: 269 (+135)
WATH Mailing List: 110 (+44)

WATH shares a connection with the international National Novel Writing Month program and as such connects with participating members registered to NaNoWriMo.
W.A. NaNoWriMo 2016 Users:
Perth South: 216 writing 4,365,980 words in November.
Perth North: 191 writing 3,592,404 words in November.
Rockingham/Mandurah: 31 writing 670,728 words in November.
Margaret River: 2 writing 10,265 words in November
TOTAL = 440 writing 8,639,377 words in November.

Over the course of November, participants of NaNoWriMo take on the challenge to write 50,000 words. Those who achieve this feat are declared ‘winners’.
Perth South NaNoWriMo winners: 41 (41 of 216 with more than 50,000 words)
Perth South NaNoWriMo winners: 44 (44 of 191 with more than 50,000 words)
TOTAL = 85 writers in Western Australia created 50,000 words or more in 30 days!

This year we forced all website visits to redirect to the Facebook group

What worked – comments

  • The Kick Off Party in Fremantle proved to be a very popular event. We were maxing out the capacity of the space and needing more room, including tables, chairs, and power. The catering was a big hit and the relaxed atmosphere created a fabulous space for people to really get stuck into their stories.
  • Two hours are a good duration for Write ins.
  • Tables set for 4-6 participants facing each other proved to be a good setup for Write Ins
  • Sending out a “what to expect” email prior to events has proven very powerful; remind writers that write ins are an opportunity to add new words to their own stories and that they should bring a work-in-progress with them for that purpose is a good idea; as is reminding them to bring their writing tools (computer or pen and paper)

What we can improve on – comments

  • The Gosnells Writers Expo was less well attended this year and felt less organised. Important to ensure these kinds of events are well promoted and perhaps work with external coordinating groups to ensure events they incorporate in the program are of the same high standard as events put on by our library staff.
  • It’s really important to have someone “hosting” the write in; this can be a local member of the writing community to can arrive before the event begins and leave after but who can act as welcoming party for newcomers. Someone who is a writer is best suited, but a library staff member who keeps watch over the group can do in a pinch. The important thing is to ensure people feel welcomed into the space, have their questions answered, and aren’t left to wander around feeling lost and confused.
  • It’s really important that we get promotion happening sooner! Promotions didn’t really start until late September with first events in October so attendance was generally lower. Would be best to have promotions well under way by August.
  • Adapt venues based on booking numbers; some events that proved to have smaller numbers also needed to have smaller venues (or more intimately arranged spaces), other events that were very popular were turning away due to capacity limits.
  • The absence of the Shire of Serpentine Jarrahdale from the line up this year was sadly missed. They played a key role in organising sponsorship and nurturing community. We hope they’ll be better positioned to be involved again in future years.
  • This year the project coordinator stepped down from having such a fundamental role in the organising, promotion, and management of this years festival. While she was still on hand in the first months to bring together the committee and as a representative during the festival months, the actual event organisation and planning was left to the remaining committee members. Having this lack of a dynamic hub did seem to impact the festival results as a whole with attendance being lower, total events being less varied or as well targeted to the long-fiction writing market the festival has traditionally supported, and being less prominently marketed and promoted with promotion beginning quite late. It was wonderful to see that even without a coordinator the diverse local government areas could work together to build a program, but it does seem there are clear advantages to having an independent project coordinator to help ensure the program runs smoothly and comes together in a timely fashion with careful attention to how all the individual parts fit as a greater whole.

Sponsors

Fremantle Press
Gestalt
Margaret River Press
Collins Booksellers
Aulexic

Organising Committee

Rebecca Laffar-Smith Project Coordinator (On complete leave from April-September; only partial involvement as representative and spokesperson through September-December)
Leanne Fitzgerald City of Armadale
Claire Tomlin City of Armadale
Ken Allen City of Fremantle
Steve McQuade City of Fremantle
Tamara Lampard City of South Perth
Britt Ingerson City of Victoria Park
Sian Brown & Ripeka Hitaua City of Gosnells
Stephanie Mandyczewsky City of Kwinana
Sarah McQuade City of Canning
Linda Dobson City of Canning

Final Report 2015

Overview

Write Along The Highway (WATH) is a festival of writing events hosted by a collective of Western Australian libraries who have united to celebrate National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Together we support and promote the local literary industry by encouraging community and professional development of our local writers. WATH presents a series of write-ins, author talks, workshops, and events throughout October, November and December. Bringing writers together to write, to create, to learn, and to grow.

Information Sessions

Rebecca Laffar-Smith hosted six information sessions in October at various participating libraries. Rebecca gave an informative talk about how the project works and how interested people could benefit from participating. Participants were invited to ask questions of both organisers and NaNoWriMo veterans. They were also given an opportunity to network with fellow writers and find out more about upcoming events spanning the Write Along The Highway calendar.
Total Attendance: 58 (6 sessions)

Kick-Off Party

On the 1st of November, the NaNoWriMo portion of the writers’ festival kicked off with a well-attended Kick-Off Party. The party involved a primary focus on writing with all attendees expected to bring their NaNoWriMo project on the day and work toward establishing a good foundation of words. The event was hosted and catered by volunteer, Rebecca Laffar-Smith with food platters, cake, and sweets. The Gary Holland Community Centre venue was donated by the City of Rockingham and was very well suited for the event.
Total Attendance: 30

Expos

We hosted two expos as part of our festival of events in 2015. The Rockingham Writers Expo in October and the Gosnells Writers Circle Self-Publishing Expo in December. Both events were uniquely structured with Rockingham presenting a day of sit-down talks and panel sessions with a catered lunch and Gosnells having a series of stalls for one-on-one Q&A and networking opportunities with experienced professionals and an invigorating opening address. Both expos were well received.
Total Attendance: Approx. 175 (2 expos)

Write-Ins

Participating libraries made welcoming spaces available for ‘write-in’ sessions throughout November. Spaces provided comfortable seating, tables, access to power, and refreshments to allow for comfortable writing sessions and conversation. Writing tends to be a solitary gig and the ‘write-ins’ give motivation, community, support, and dedicated time to help participants achieve their goals.
Total Attendance: 167 (28 sessions)

Individual participating library statistics:

Venue: Attendance Total (No. of Events)
Fremantle: 4+7+3 Total: 14 (3)
State library: 8+10+9+7+6 Total: 40 (5)
Manning: 5+2+2+4 Total: 13 (4)
Belmont: 6+4+3 Total 13 (3)
Perth: 6+4 Total: 10 (2)
Thornlie: 14+3 Total: 17 (2)
Armadale: 10+7 Total: 17 (2)
Rockingham: 11+3+5+5 Total: 24 (4)
Mundijong: 3 Total: 03 (1)
Victoria Park: 9+7 Total: 16 (2)

NOTE: There is clearly better numbers in the first and second week of NaNoWriMo where attendance drops considerably in weeks three and four. There is also better attendance where write ins proceed author workshops/talks.

Workshops

The majority of workshops were held in October to help writers prepare for NaNoWriMo. In October the workshops focused on the craft of writing particularly with regard to plot and character development to allow writers to develop their ideas. In December workshops focused on editing and publishing options so that participants could consider what to do with the works they created in November.
Total Attendance: 301 (17 workshops)

Author Talks

Author talks were held in November with a primary focus on encouraging and motivating writers to get the words written.
Total Attendance: 143 (5 talks)

Write Night

On November 28th we held our major event for Write Along The Highway. Write Night 2015 was a four-hour event that consisted of two writing challenges, games, and a panel of literary experts as well as prizes and goodies for all participants. With thanks to the City of South Perth for donating the venue for the night and thanks to our sponsors for donations of prizes and goodies. Write Night has always been very warmly received with wonderful feedback but we will again consider changes that could lead to better attendance in future years.
Total Attendance: 38

More statistical data

At all events, contact information was collected from attendees as available. This lead to the creation of a database of 331 unique email addresses and a total of 462 unique names from people who showed an interest in the festival by joining the mailing list or Facebook group and booking/attending events.
Facebook Group Members: 134
WATH Mailing List: 66

WATH incorporates a connection with the international National Novel Writing Month program and as such connects with participating members registered to NaNoWriMo.
W.A. NaNoWriMo 2015 Users:
Perth South: 240
Perth North: 198
Rockingham Mandurah: 40
Margaret River: 7
TOTAL = 486

Over the course of November, participants of NaNoWriMo take on the challenge to write 50,000 words. Those who achieve this feat are declared ‘winners’.
Perth South NaNoWriMo winners: 58 (58 of 240 with more than 50,000 words)

This year we developed an online calendar and website to help participants learn more about our calendar of events. The website showed significant traffic in September and October when the program was released and continued to be a resource for interested members of the community over the course of the festival.
WATH Website Sessions: 4153
WATH Website Unique Visitors: 2938
WATH Website Total Page Views: 8483

Expenses (incomplete)

Brochures:
The Little Print Shop – (reduced price)
2,000 copies $1,160 ($128.89 per Council)

WATH banners:
New $130.00; Re-skin $50.00

Sponsor banner:
Donated by the City of Armadale ($130.00)

Catering:
Individual Events Refreshments: $50
Individual Write In Refreshments: $10
Write Night: $600 ($67 per Council)

Artist Fees:
Author Talks (5 Talks): $2100 (ASA Rate per 1h talk $350)
Workshops (17 Workshops): $9350 (ASA Rate per 2-3h workshop $550)
Write Night Panel (4 Panelists): $590 ($66 per Council) (ASA Rate $147.50)
Write Night Musician (1) Donated by Artist

Venues:
Average Venue Cost: $20/h

Staff Hours:
Unknown

Approximate total Projected Expense Per Library Service for the 2016 Write Along The Highway Writers Festival:

Brochures (200): approx. $130
WATH banners (new): New $130.00
Sponsor banner: approx. $15
Catering: approx. $200
Artist Fees: approx. $1250
Venues & Equipment: approx. $300 – Usually free access to Library Service
Staff Costs for events: approx. $600 – Usually part of normal cost of Library Service
Total Cost: approx. $3000 (over two months)

What worked – comments

  • The new look brochure with all the info in one place
  • The weekday evening and Saturday events / workshops / author talks
  • Coupling Write Ins times with workshops/talks
  • Committee members sharing information and keeping each other informed

What we can improve on – comments

  • Write Night – timing…. Is Saturday a better day? Would a day time event be better? NOTE: Rebecca will survey participants to get further feedback.
  • Send WATH grant applications sooner in 2016, more feedback and support from the committee to ensure excellence in application quality. i.e. Australian Council for the Arts, Lottery West
  • This year we need to carefully outline the projected expenses and potential levels of involvement so that everyone has a better sense of what is involved up front and so that we can fairly delegate expenses (taken from Rebecca’s email Monday 14th September 2015)
  • Wider promotion and better use of the local news resources and member associations for writers across Western Australia (including FAWWA, KSP, Perth Writers Festival, etc.)
  • More effective use of social media; event photography encouraged with staff and participants encouraged to share photographs and event titbits both before, during, and after events. Invite speakers to further promote their own events and the festival as a whole within their networks.

Sponsors

  • Fremantle Press
  • Writing WA
  • New Edition Bookshop
  • Crow Books
  • Quality Comics
  • Dymocks
  • Millpoint Caffe Bookshop
  • Armadale Writer’s Group
  • Serpentine/Jarrahdale Library Friends Inc.
  • Mundella
  • Aulexic
  • Millbrook winery
  • The Old Homestead Soap & Wares Store
  • The Manse Restaurant
  • J&P’s Wicked Candles
  • Café On The Dam

Organising Committee

Rebecca Laffar-Smith Project Coordinator & NaNoWriMo ML
Lizelle Smith & Lisa Keys Shire of Serpentine Jarrahdale
Jenny Ramshaw City of Armadale
Ken Allen City of Fremantle
Tamara Lampard City of South Perth
Britt Ingerson City of Victoria Park
Sian Brown City of Gosnells
Lee Battersby City of Rockingham
Suzanne Rofe City of Perth
Wendy Kirkup City of Belmont
Joanna Andrew State Library of W.A.

WATH Write Ins 2015

November is all about getting the words written!

Participants are encouraged to come along to write ins at the participating libraries through the entire month. Statistics indicate that the write ins lead to fantastic success. Putting dedicated time aside as often as possible to focus soley on adding new words (and doing so with the motivation and support of a similarly minded community of fellow writers) helps you stay on target and move sure-heartedly toward your goal.

Come along to as many write ins as you can manage, meet other writers, share the trials and tribulations, but most importantly, give these hours to your writing and get new words on your current work-in-progress. Bring along your laptop, tablet, or pen and paper because these sessions involve a lot more writing than talking.


See our full list of Upcoming Write Ins

Our official WATH Write In line-up:
Rockingham Arts Centre – 01/11/2015 – 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Fremantle City Library – 02/11/2015 – 10:00 am – 1:00 pm
State Library of Western Australia – 02/11/2015 – 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Manning Library – 03/11/2015 – 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Ruth Faulkner Public Library – 03/11/2015 – 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Thornlie Library – 05/11/2015 – 4:00 pm – 5:45 pm
Armadale Public Library – 07/11/2015 – 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Rockingham Arts Centre – 08/11/2015 – 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm
State Library of Western Australia – 09/11/2015 – 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Manning Library – 10/11/2015 – 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Mundijong Public Library – 10/11/2015 – 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Thornlie Library – 12/11/2015 – 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Armadale Public Library – 14/11/2015 – 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Rockingham Arts Centre – 15/11/2015 – 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Fremantle City Library – 16/11/2015 – 10:00 am – 1:00 pm
State Library of Western Australia – 16/11/2015 – 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Manning Library – 17/11/2015 – 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Ruth Faulkner Public Library – 17/11/2015 – 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Victoria Park – 20/11/2015 – 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Rockingham Arts Centre – 22/11/2015 – 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm
State Library of Western Australia – 23/11/2015 – 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Manning Library – 24/11/2015 – 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Ruth Faulkner Public Library – 24/11/2015 – 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Victoria Park Library – 26/11/2015 – 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Rockingham Arts Centre – 29/11/2015 – 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Fremantle City Library – 30/11/2015 – 10:00 am – 1:00 pm
State Library of Western Australia – 30/11/2015 – 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm

Download our Write In Flyer

*** If you find you’re challenged by being in a public location with external noises and conversations, consider coming along with headphones. We do not feel rejected when writers create this kind of sound barrier to focus on their work. (In fact you’ll find at every Write In our municipal liaison, Rebecca Laffar-Smith, will hook herself into her computer in this way too when she’s in ‘high-focus’ mode.) Please, don’t let your concern that you’ll struggle to produce this way hold you back from giving it a try. Most writers discover in time that they really don’t need “perfect” conditions because when the energy, fire, and drive is right the words are there. Write Ins are pretty magical in creating that energy, fire, and drive. Give it a go!

*** If you have any other concerns about being able to get the writing done at our Write Ins, please send Rebecca an email rebecca@writealongthehighway.org. She’d love to help ease your worries or talk about strategies to overcome Resistance.

Brochure/Passport: Because Stickers Are Cool

STICKERS! That’s what it’s all about.

Grab your brochure/passport at any of our participating libraries!Okay, so maybe it’s not just stickers. It’s really about coming along to some great author talks, workshops, expos, and write ins, but every time you do you can earn a sticker. At all of our Write Along The Highway events someone will be manning a sign in sheet where attendees can check in and collect a sticker to put in their brochure/passport. Remember, the brochure/passport is available from all our participating libraries, so stop by the one closest to you to make sure you have one. Or pick one up at the first event you attend.

STICKERS! Be sure to grab your sticker at every event you attend!What’s the point?

Well, those stickers add up the more events you attend and having stickers in your brochure/passport increase your odds of winning fantastic prizes. There are three opportunities when prizes will be awarded. Two of them require you to be in attendance but the third is a catch all in case you can’t make it to the other two events.

  • First, when you bring your brochure/passport with you to Write Night!, we’ll collect them when you sign in and award prizes before returning them to you at the end of the night.
  • Next, when you come along to the TGIO Family-Friendly BBQ you can hand in your brochure/passport and collect some cool stuff.
  • Finally, if you can’t make it to TGIO shoot me an email in December and I’ll let you know where to post your brochure so that you still have a chance to win!

Please, even if you’re not interested in cool prizes (um… you do have a pulse right?) still collect stickers and hand in your brochure. These help us track the success of our events and the festival as a whole so that we can plan for next year. They also provide us with good records so that we can have an easier time applying for funding and promoting the event to potential sponsors. So, don’t just do it for you (and because stickers are cool!) but do it to help us ensure WATH continues in future years.

Media 2015

WATH_2015_Poster_2015091411402015 Write Along The Highway Promotional Image / Poster
Feel free to download and share this image online or within your business to help promote and support the Write Along The Highway Writers Festival. We truly value your support and it’s in spreading the word and getting good attendance to our events that we’ll be able to continue the festival in future years so please spread the word.
Right click and “Save file as…” to download.

Download the 2015 Write Along The Highway Calendars2015 Write Along The Highway Calendars
Showing the fantastic line up events across the months October through December, our full calendar is exciting and action packed. These calendars can be printed to either A3, A4, or A5 sizes and are free to display or distribute.
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Download the 2015 Write Along The Highway Program2015 Write Along The Highway Program
This program is for digital viewing only; pick up a printed version from your local participating library or email Rebecca to have an official program mailed directly to you.

To find out how your official WATH program is also your passport to great prizes, click here!

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2015 Write Along The Highway Logo2015 Write Along The Highway Logo
For use in media promotions and marketing.
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2015 October Information Sessions Flyer
With a selection of information sessions available from participating libraries across the region you’re welcome to attend whichever is most convenient to you and learn all about Write Along The Highway and National Novel Writing Month.
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2015 November Write Ins Flyer2015 November Write Ins Flyer
November is all about getting the words written so participants are encouraged to come along to write ins at the participating libraries through the entire month.
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See our 2015 Write Night! Panel Members
2015 Write Night! Panel Members

Discover our Write Night! Panel. Download and share our Write Night flyer with your fellow writer friends. Everyone is welcome, but remember, bookings are essential!

For more detailed information about Write Night! visit our Write Nigth! event page.

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Write Along The Highway 2015 in the Media

WATH Information Sessions 2015

Calling all writers (aspiring, emerging, or established)!
Have you ever been inspired to write a book?
Want to learn more about writing, editing, and publishing?
Want to meet other local and national writers?

Well we have a FANTASTIC line up for you. Come along to one of our WATH Information Sessions and find out more about the Write Along The Highway Writer’s Festival and National Novel Writing Month. We’ll be presenting at six locations this year so head along to whichever is most convenient for you (you’re also welcome to attend as many of the info sessions as you like and meet different writers at each).

The information sessions introduce newcomers to National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and our fantastic calendar of Write Along The Highway events. Discover what’s involved in the NaNoWriMo challenge and what exciting events we have lined up for you. Even if you’re familiar with NaNoWriMo and are choosing not to participate this year, come along and find out about the events for writers that are open to everyone! If you’ve got some friends or family who are interested in writing but still on the fence or know nothing about NaNoWriMo then bring them along. It’s also a great chance to begin meeting fellow writers in your area, reminisce about NaNoWriMo’s past, and share your own experiences and advice. We truly welcome members, new and old, because part of what makes these sessions so interesting, engaging, and inspiring is the support and encouragement of our writing community.

You don’t have to be a NaNo participant to attend the workshops, author talks, parties, or write ins; you just have to be passionate about writing, editing, or publishing! So come along!

Please register with the libraries for the session/s you’d like to attend. Click on the venues above for full event listings, including contact details for making a booking.

Click here to download the Write Along The Highway 2015 Information Sessions Flyer

Author Talks & Workshops – October 2015

Please register with the libraries for the session/s you’d like to attend. Click on the events above for full listings, including contact details for making a booking.