Reading on Ice

2008 is the National Year of Reading. As part of a Winchester-wide programme of celebrations this winter, families visiting the cathedral’s ice rink will experience the fun of reading on ice.

It’s not as dangerous as it sounds though. These enchanting readings can be heard every hour along with the usual seasonal music played over the rink’s loudspeakers, so you don’t even have to skate: but it’s more fun if you do!

Aimed at a family audience, skaters and visitors will hear I Am Freezing, a poem by American poet Jack Prelutsky read by Joseph Bone, and a chapter from Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen read by Claire Harvey.

Joseph and Claire are graduates from the University of Winchester, and they are part of a theatre company called ‘The River People’ which received rave reviews at their recent season at the Edinburgh Festival.

The readings are set to music with other sound effects, and each one has been composed and produced by Chris Redmond. Chris is known to local families as the music leader for Winnall Rock School, which offers free music lessons to young people who live in Winnall, Highcliffe, Stanmore and Weeke.

Reading on Ice has been commissioned by Winchester City Council as part of the Winchester Out Loud series of events, a collaboration between literature promoters and specialists in the area. The programme has included the much loved Wessex Children’s Book Festival, a new ghost story premiered at the Theatre Royal, and the launch of the hilarious Kitchen Table Lingo book by The English Project at Winchester Discovery Centre.

Cllr Patricia Stallard, the council’s portfolio holder for heritage, culture and sport, commented:

"Winchester has many strong literary links and traditions, and I have been delighted to see these brought to life through the ‘Out Loud’ programme. My family will be on the ice this weekend, and we are looking forward to hearing the readings, which bring together national and local talent in a very unusual setting – something that we pride ourselves on doing well in this creative district."

The legacy of Winchester Out Loud will be the production, in 2009, of a new literary guide to celebrate writers who have lived in or written about Winchester from medieval times right up to the present day.

There’s more information about all the above activities, on