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Steam railway returns and live shows restart amid lockdown easing

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IT is full steam ahead once again for the Exbury Gardens railway, while the Regent Centre in Christchurch has announced it intends to restart live shows later this summer.

Announcements have also come from festivals and summer events; the Romsey Show confirmed it intends to go ahead providing the lockdown roadmap does not change, but Boomtown has been cancelled for 2021.

Passengers can now once again hop aboard the mile-and-a-half narrow gauge steam railway at Exbury Gardens. Tickets can be pre-booked for the train, which has a 50% capacity limit with alternate compartments in use and protective screens.

The Exbury Gardens Steam railway has reopened
The Exbury Gardens Steam railway has reopened

The Regent Centre will throw open its doors from June 4th with a showcase of Oscar-nominated films in its newly refurbished theatre, ahead of live shows returning on 29th July.

The venue will mark award season by screening acclaimed new Oscar-nominated films including Nomadland, Sound of Metal and The Father, alongside family favourite Peter Rabbit 2 and the long-awaited musical In the Heights starring Hamilton-creator Lin-Manuel Miranda.

The Regent Centre is taking bookings for live shows from late July to 2022, with the opening one being Highcliffe Charity Players’ Treasure Island, via www.regentcentre.co.uk or by calling the box office between 10am and 4pm Monday to Friday on 01202 499199.

The opening night includes a thank-you offer of £9.99 tickets to all front-line workers and their families. They can be redeemed in advance only online (max 6 per booking) or by phone.

The Regent Centre auditorium is set to reopen to audiences this summer
The Regent Centre auditorium is set to reopen to audiences this summer

Regent Centre general manager Matthew Vass-White said: “We’re delighted that, subject to the next two government phases running as predicted, we’ll be able resume performances again and slowly re-introduce other services within the building as the rules become clearer.”

The Romsey Show is planned for 11th September but the organisers said the cancellation of other agricultural shows meant it was unable to host cattle and sheep competitions and horse contests will be “significantly reduced”.

Boomtown, which is popular amongst Forest residents and takes place near Winchester, blamed a row over a lack of government insurance on its decision to cancel.

Meanwhile, BCP Council is making available £2.4m of grants for projects that “demonstrate innovation, provide clear benefits for the local economy and generate pride in the place we live”.

Firms in the retail, hospitality, leisure and welfare industries and up to 10 organisations that provide business support, can apply for help until 5th May, with further hand-outs of between £15,000 and £70,000 up for grabs for businesses with “stand-out projects” until 7th May.

Organisations that represent up to 2,000 local firms, such as Bournemouth Town Centre BID, Bournemouth Coastal BID and Poole BID, are also able to apply for grants.

Chris Shephard, BCP Council director of development, said: “We are looking for innovative projects that generate benefits for the business community as whole, showcase the best our area has to offer and can be delivered to a set time and budget.

“This is a competitive scheme, so we encourage you to take the time to carefully develop your plans and proposals before applying.”

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