Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Laugh Out Lancaster - Bank Holiday Weekend Comedy Festival

Laugh out Lancaster (LOL) is Lancaster's weekend of comedy & street theatre taking place this May Bank Holiday weekend, 23rd - 26th May, with fascinating street theatre for all the family during the day, and hilarious comedy acts in the city's venues as night falls.  Convent Garden Street Theatre Performers will be in various locations throughout the city from Saturday til Monday.

Friday 23 May

The festival kicks off on Friday evening, 23 May with Alan Anderson's Whisky for Dafties at 7:30pm at The Hall, 10 China Street.  Six malt whiskies to be tasted, many laughs to be had. Sample some fine beverages whilst Alan Anderson fills you in on the history, methodology and lore of this great drink. A hilarious hour of educational drinking! Tickets are £10 - Click here to buy your ticket (+£1 bf). Strictly over 18s. Other beverages are available!

Saturday 24 May
  • The General (U) - Family Fun Film Classic  11am - The Dukes A digitally restored new release of Buster Keaton's 1926 classic comedy. Keaton stars as an engineer who risks life and limb to recover his beloved train. Tickets: £3 - Click here to buy your ticket (+47p bf). 
  • Faces of Disco. Market Gate 11:30am - Sun Square 1pm - Penny Street 2:30pm. Live finalists on ITV's Britain's Got Talent are bringing their high energy unique comedy dance act to Lancaster. Great performers not to be missed! 
  • Strong Lady. Penny Street 12:15pm - Market Gate 1:45pm - Sun Square 3:15pm A genuine strong lady, Betty Brawn presents an exhilarating array of feats of strength as she tears thick romantic novels, twists solid metal, snaps steel chains and shatters gender cliches. 
  • Betty Balloon Cheapside 11:30pm / 1pm / 2:30pm Betty Balloon is not just any balloon artists, creating characters from balloon sculptures and telling captivating stories! Come along and you could even take part with balloon props and costumes! 
  • Circus Workshop St Nicholas Arcades 11:30am - 3:30pm Circus skills workshops give everyone a chance to try out different circus skills like juggling, hula hooping and Diablo! Taught by professional experienced performers.
  • The Lancashire Hotpots 8pm - The Dukes If you like a good night out, get your flat caps and 'weskits' ready for loads of comedy songs about chippy teas, shopmobility scooters as well as how to smuggle your own sweets into the cinema.  Tickets: £14 - Click here to buy your ticket (+£1 bf) 
  • LUCI at the Library. 8pm The Sanctuary, Lancaster Library  Join the Lancaster University Comedy Institute and sample some of the finest emerging stand-up talent on the market.  Tickets: £3 - Click here to buy your ticket (+10% bf) Licensed bar at the venue. Strictly over 18s
Lancaster Comedy Club at the Borough - Dalton Square

Sunday 25 May

Ivan Brackenbury's Hospital Radio Roadshow, Ian D Montfort - Spirit Medium, Davey Connor, Ro Campbell
Multi-award winning character comedian Tom Binns will be opening and closing the show with his two best known characters Ivan Brackenbury, Ian D Montfort.  Also on stage will be the fantastic Davey Connor and compere for the evening is Ro Campbell.
Doors open 7.30pm for 8pm start. Tickets: £7 in advance, £9 after 4pm on the day of the show or £12.50 including a meal beforehand. - Click here to buy your ticket  (+10%bf).
Strictly over 18s. Very strong language. All acts are subject to change.

Monday 26 May 

Martin 'Bigpig'-Mor's Funny Stuff for Happy People  
Doors open 2.30pm for 3pm start
Kids! Do you need somewhere to take your adults without them getting bored and going in a huff? Bring them to Funny Stuff for Happy People, an hour of comedy, circus, storytelling, poetry and stupid science. Tickets: £2 - Click here to buy your ticket (+10%bf). Children must be accompanied by an adult.

T.V comedians Tom Stade and Justin Moorhouse return to the Lancaster Comedy Club to preview their brand new Edinburgh Fringe Festival shows Doors open 7.30pm for 8pm start. Tickets: £7 in advance, £9 after 4pm on the day of the show or £12.50 including a meal beforehand. Click here to buy your ticket  (+10%bf). Strictly over 18s. Very strong language. Preview acts are subject to change.

The festival is brought to you by Lancaster Unlimited, our local Business Improvement District (BID).
For the full Laugh Out Lancaster programme go to

Local Cinema Round-Up for 14th to 22nd May by Peter Clarke

For up to date local cinema links and day-by-day listings every week visit the Virtual-Lancaster Cinema Page. Read on for the weekly round-up, and reviews.

New Releases during this period comprise two science fiction films: Godzilla (12A) and the long awaited X-Men Days of Future Past (12A).

We have lost the films Transcendence and Frozen. However Moshi Monsters: The Movie has returned for the weekend and, for one day only, there is a screening of Non-Stop.

This is a good period for high culture with screenings of the National Theatre productions King Lear and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.

The Dukes are holding their popular Film Quiz on the Sunday. Also to be recommended is their screening of the humorous drama Calvary.


Bad Neighbours
Director: Nicholas Stoller
Certificate: 15
Cast Includes: Seth Rogen, Jake Johnson, Zac Efron, Rose Byrne
Released as 'Neighbors' outside the UK, this is a comedy about Mac Radner (Rogen), his wife Kelly (Byrne) and young baby and the disruption they face when a college fraternity led by Teddy (Efron) moves in next door. Initially relations between the neighbours are not too bad but increasingly the frat boys work to ruin their family life and the Radner's give as good as they get. The film is a bawdy comedy as the tit-for-tat acts of sabotage escalate to hilarious (and possibly offensive) effect. One of the better Frat house comedies.

Director: Gareth Edwards
Certificate: 12A
Cast Includes: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, David Strathairn, Bryan Cranston, Elizabeth Olsen, Juliette Binoche
Godzilla rises again with an excellent cast and plenty of special effects as cities are destroyed. Joe Brody (Cranston) is a physicist who investigates the events at a Japanese nuclear facility where Godzilla is accidentally released. It is his soldier son Ford (Taylor-johnson) who battles the beast as it stalks San Francisco. There is some excellent performances, especially from Cranston and the directory tells the story from a human viewpoint. Indeed we don't get a good glimpse of the monster till the latter half of the film. A spectacular disaster movie and one of the best re-telling of the story of Godzilla.

Director: Jaume Collet-Serra
Certificate: 12A
Cast includes: Liam Neeson, Nate Parker, Julianne Moore
Bill Marks (Neeson), an alcoholic and chain smoking air marshall on a flight from New York to London. He receives a series of text messages demanding he get the government to transfer a large sum of cash to an offshore account else a passenger will be killed every twenty minutes. Yet the offshore account is in Mark's own name, making him the prime suspect. This is an excellent and enjoyable suspense drama, complete with air turbulence, scared stewardesses and the inevitable deaths on the airplane.

Director: Paul W.S. Anderson
Certificate: 12A
Cast includes: Kit Harington, Carrie-Anne Moss, Jessica Lucas, Jared Harris, Kiefer Sutherland, Emily Browning
The year is 79AD and the backdrop of the movie is the epic eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Mile (Harington), a gladiator strives to save the love of his life Cassia (Browning) who is betrothed to Corvus (Sutherland) a corrupt Roman Senator. This is a film that is hard not to like as it 'ticks all the boxes' portraying poor boy/rich girl romance with action and combat set in a disaster movie incorporating spectacular special effects.

Director: David Ayer
Certificate: 15
Cast includes: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Terrence Howard, Joe Manganiello, Josh Holloway, Mireille Enos
John 'Breacher' Wharton (Schwarzenegger) leads a special drug enforcement team, all with equally outlandish nick-names, to raid a drugs cartel. However a large sum of money goes missing and there is suspicion of internal corruption. The members of the drug enforcement team find themselves targeted and start to be killed. There is no shortage of gore and bad language in this movie, though perhaps it is a little lighter on action then previous Schwarzenegger films, having just one major shootout piece. The film however supplies suspense as we learn what became of the missing ten million dollars. A star cast and one of Schwarzenegger's better films.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2
Director: Marc Webb
Certificate: 12A
Cast Includes: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Paul Giamatti, Jamie Foxx
Garfield plays the role of Peter Parke and his alter-ego Spider-Man. He must defeat Max Dillon (Foxx) who becomes transformed into the super-villain Electro, in order to save New York. The strength of the Spider man franchise lies in the tribulations of Peter Parker as he juggles his role as super-hero with the more mundane aspects of his life and his relationship with girlfriend Gwen Stacy (Stone). With jokes, special effects and love interest this is a worthy sequel to the Spider-Man series.

The Other Woman
Director: Nick Cassavetes
Certificate: 12A
Cast Includes: Cameron Diaz, Leslie Mann, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Kate Upton
Carley (Diaz) discovers that her boyfriend Mark (Coster-Waldau) is in fact married. She accidentally meets his wife they become friends. Subsequently they discover Mark is also undertaking a third affair with Amber (Upton). The three women plot their revenge. This is a rather lightweight comedy, and a little light on laughs. Mildly amusing.

Central Lancaster High School students complete Sports Leaders Award

More than 20 students from Central Lancaster High School have recently completed the Sports Leaders UK Level 1 Award in Sports Leadership course. The 30 hour course delivered by Lancaster City Council was completed over 12 weeks.

The course is designed for students aged 13 to 16 years old and provides them with their first experience of becoming a PE teacher. and involved completing a number of units including Planning a Sporting Activity, Communication Skills, Health and Fitness, Fair Play in Sport and a one hour practical coaching session.

The participants were then required to demonstrate their newly acquired skills to deliver safe, fun and active sessions for groups of year 3 and 4 children attending nearby Christ Church CofE Primary School.

All 21 students who passed the award received a certificate and badge from Sports Leaders UK.

• Schools interested in their students undertaking Sports Leaders Award courses should contact Community Leisure Development Officer, Scott Wilcock tel. on 01524 582778

Lancaster University is the best in the north west

Image courtesy Lancaster University
Image courtesy Lancaster University

Lancaster University is the leading university in the North West according to The Complete University Guide 2015.

Lancaster is ranked 11th in the ranking of 123 UK universities, ahead of all other universities in the North West.

In separate listings covering 67 subjects, Lancaster appears in national top ten listings for 12 of the 31 subjects it offers, topping the table for one subject - Marketing.

Lancaster Univerity now hosts around 12,000 students in total with 46% male and 54% female undergraduates. 90% of undergraduates from state schools and 22% of undergraduates from outside the UK.

Other highly ranked subjects at Lancaster University include: Social Work in second place; both Art and Design and Linguistics in third place; Communication and Media Studies in 4th place; Accounting and Finance in 5th place; Business and Management Studies in 7th place; Drama, Dance and Film Studies and Religious Studies in 8th place; Physics, Sociology and Geography and Environmental Science in 9th place.

The main table is based on nine measures: Student Satisfaction, Research Assessment, Entry Standards, Student: Staff Ratio; Spending on Academic Services; Spending on Student Facilities; Good Honours degrees achieved; Graduate Prospects and Completion.

The Subject tables are based on four: Student Satisfaction, Research Assessment; Entry Standards and Graduate Prospects.

Police appeal after 61-year-old woman hit by bus in Lancaster

Police are appealing for information after a serious collision in Lancaster on Monday.

As we previously reported, the accident happened at shortly after 3.30pm on Monday 12th May on Great John Street near to its junction with Gage Street, when a 61-year-old local woman was struck by a single decker bus as she crossed the road on a pelican crossing.

She suffered a serious head injury and was taken by ambulance to the Lancaster Royal Infirmary and then transferred to the Royal Preston Hospital where her condition is described as critical.

The street was closed for a number of hours and traffic re-routed while police investigated the scene.

Sergeant Rob Gomery, of West Division Road Policing Unit, said: “I am keen to hear from anyone who may have witnessed this accident and I would urge them to get in touch with the police.”

This is the second accident involving a bus in Lancaster this year. In March, cyclist Joan Behar died following a collision with a bus on the junction of Chapel Street and North Road.

• Anyone with information should contact police on 101 quoting log number 0779 of 12th May 2014

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

City Council seeks new Freemen and Freewomen for Lancaster

Applications are being invited for one of Lancaster’s most historic traditions.

Each year Lancaster City Council continues the longstanding custom of admitting new Freemen and Freewomen of the city. 

Traditionally the honour of becoming a Freeman or Freewoman carried a number of privileges including the right to ‘pasture a limited number of beasts’ on the Marsh, to enter the city free from the payment of tolls and also to bring goods through toll gates for sale at the Lancaster Market. The roll has been open to women since 2011. 

Nowadays the role carries few rights, but remains popular amongst those who are proud of their heritage.

Both men and women are eligible to apply for the honour if they meet one of the following criteria:

·         To be the son or daughter of a Freeman or Freewoman.
·         To have served an apprenticeship to a Freeman or Freewoman of the City for a period of seven years.
·         To have been born within the old city boundaries.
·         To have lived within the old city boundaries for a period of 7 consecutive years.

In each case, the applicant has to be at least 16 years of age.

New Freemen and Freewomen will be entered at a special court of admission on July 12, starting at 10am, and applications are now being invited.

Applicants are also required to attend the court in person and must bring with them a person who is willing to stand and vouch for their identity – for example a spouse, sibling or friend - and swear an oath of allegiance to Her Majesty The Queen and to the mayor and the city.

• Application forms are available from the Mayor’s Office by telephoning 01524 582070 or by email to .

For more about this historic tradition see previous story: Lancaster Freewomen are on the Roll 

Monday, 12 May 2014

City Centre A6 closed due to accident

The A6 Lancaster City Centre ring road is currently closed at  Dalton Square (Southbound) following an accident involving a bus and a pedestrian, during the afternoon rush hour.

There is a great deal of congestion backed up in the system and drivers are advised to avoid the City Centre and warned to expect delays and diversions.

The road is expected to be reopened by 6.45pm.

When is a a Tory not a Tory? When they want students to vote for them?

The Labour List has drawn our attention to some odd posters that have been popping up around Lancaster University’s campus recently, in support of Daniel Aldred, a candidate in the upcoming Lancaster City Council by-election.

Given the fact that most of the electorate in the ward are students, some of them perhaps more than slightly aggrieved by having to pay £9000 a year in student fees, it seems local Conservatives are trying to play down the fact that Mr Aldred is their candidate.

Their posters - plastered across the university campus, we're told - focus on student issues: student housing and a tough line against the now called-off marking boycott. But there's no mention of what political party he’s standing for, just that the posters are promoted and printed by “NLCCC” in the small print at the bottom.

Who? Why, the North Lancashire Conservative Campaign Centre of course. Isn't it obvious?

Mr Aldred's poster opposing the marking boycott

And the obfuscation doesn't stop there, because even on his Facebook page, there's no obvious indication that the fresh-faced Mr Aldred is a Tory candidate.

We're a bit mystified by this approach and we're wondering if it's a marketing tactic that will be employed by the Conservatives when the General Election arrives next year. Are they that ashamed of their record?

As we previously reported, the candidates for the University Ward of Lancaster City Council are Daniel Aldred (Conservative); Jack Filmore (Green Party); Stuart Langhorn (Independent); James Leyshon (Labour); and Oliver Mountjoy (Liberal Democrats).

Full details of local by-election candidates and Euro Election candidates here

Steampunk set to take over Morecambe!

Bb blackdog w
The League of Splendid are inviting everyone to enjoy 'A Splendid Day Out' in Morecambe - "The Naples of the North" on Saturday 31st May.

From noon until 4.30pm, everyone is invited along to the Steampunk Festival at the Platform in Morecambe to enjoy numerous attractions including stalls, music, dancing and magic as well as a tea shop.

During the evening there will be live music from 7.00pm until midnight featuring Ghostfire and BB Black Dog, Vaudeville Magic with Kevin Cunliffe plus DJ sets.

 A mix of German and English members, with nearly 600 gigs, five albums worth of original songs, showcases in Hamburg, Berlin, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Denver, London, Birmingham and tours across two continents, BB BlackDog have become a live Band not to miss. with a full Stage show using Pole Dancers, Burlesque, Belly Dancers, Fun and Games, all in the Best possible Taste!

  Ghostfire pr image
The music of Ghostfire resonates to the debauched decadence and absinthe-fuelled anarchy of life in the 1980s. Their EP, 'Skeleton Coast' (available from iTunes etc) was released last last year offering four new songs of a darkly nautical nature, a few surprises and a very special guest.

 Admission to the daytime event costs £2 (under 12s admitted free) and £13 for the evening event.  All-day tickets are also available at a cost of £12 if purchased in advance.

  Steampunk festival morecambe 2014• All day tickets are available on-line at and from 13 The Warehouse, Queen Street, Morecambe

 • For more information visit or check out the League of Splendid's Facebook page