Following the success of its 2013 debut, the Ealing Music & Film Valentine Festival returns this month with a packed five-day schedule of aural and visual treats. So much takes place between 12-16 February in Ealing that it's tough to know where to start, so we'll pick a few choice cuts to whet your appetite.
On the music side, Blues and the Birth of British Rock Music is an exhibition to celebrate Ealing's connection with the history of British rock. The electric blues scene that was centred around Ealing in the early 1960s helped to launch the careers of some of the most venerable names in British rock, such as The Rolling Stones, Manfred Mann and The Who (and Pete Townshend is in fact doing a 'talking head' event at the festival). The exhibition starts at midday on Wednesday and runs throughout the Festival at the University of West London in St Mary's Road.
At the more classical end of the scale, on Saturday 15 February at 3pm the pianist and performer Dominic Harlan (Stanley Kubrick’s nephew, no less) presents an 'interactive song recital' for people of all ages. The music of Schumann, Britten and Sibelius will be used to create a stirring performance entitled Solitary Hotel. Expect it to be "hilarious, horrifying, moving and profound" in equal measure.
Other music highlights include blues performances from across the world, and Twisters, a local troupe throwing spectacular dance and gymnastic shapes to a rousing soundtrack. But of course the other half of the festival involves film, and there's plenty on offer here too.
Much of Ealing's celebrated film heritage centres around Ealing Studios, which are open for tours on the Friday and Saturday (14 and 15 February). The tour will take in The Imaginarium, a studio used to great effect by west London boy Andy Serkis, he of Gollum fame.
There will also be screenings of 1948 fairy-tale The Red Shoes, and 2005 documentary Margot about the country's most famous dancer (who happened to be from Ealing). Of course, no film festival here would be complete with an Ealing Comedy, which you can enjoy in the form of The Man in the White Suit, the 1951 caper starring Alec Guinness. You can see the film's splendid trailer below.
Tickets are available (where required) through the links above, and full details of all events can be found at the festival website. The festival is organised by a small group of Ealing residents and any profits are ploughed back into local projects, so do yourselves and Ealing a favour and head west next week.