06:00 Wednesday 01 January 2014

SLIDESHOW: Jupiter Ascending, a flower festival, a BBC2 show and Darren Bent's wedding: was 2013 the most spectacular year yet for Ely Cathedral?

Written byJORDAN DAY

Steeped in history and architecturally stunning, Ely Cathedral is one of the most famous buildings in the land.

But 2013 saw it making headlines across the world in what many would describe as its most successful year to date.

The cathedral, known as the Ship of the Fens because of the way it towers above the surrounding landscape, always has an action-packed programme of activities and events, whether that be the annual Wood Green pet service (complete with alpacas), talks by famous authors or concerts by musicians from across the globe.

But it was in April that the cathedral was at the centre of a media frenzy bigger than anyone could have ever imagined.

Global movie giant Warner Bros chose to film scenes for its next big blockbuster, Jupiter Ascending, there.

It might have been the sixth time that Ely was used as a location for a movie, with The King’s Speech, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, The Other Boleyn Girl, The Other Man and a recent Bollywood film also shot at the city’s historic cathedral.

But the fact that Hollywood actress Mila Kunis and actor Channing Tatum star in the film saw movie fans from far and wide flocking to the cathedral to try and catch a glimpse of them.

To this day it is not known whether either of them were present at the cathedral, which has been nominated as the best film and TV location in the East of England in the past. The film is due to be released in the spring.

The month of June was just as hectic for the cathedral’s army of staff and volunteers.

Not only did England footballer Darren Bent and his model bride, Kirsty Maclaren, choose to get married there, but thousands of people also descended on the cathedral for its hugely anticipated flower festival.

Former Huntingdon-based Darren, a 29-year-old striker who played for Aston Villa and is now on loan to Fulham, married Kirsty on June 15.

The 125 guests at the private ceremony heard a gospel choir performing songs including All Things Bright and Beautiful and Amazing Grace.

The flower festival was held from June 20 to June 23.

Visitors’ jaws dropped as they entered the medieval building to see it jam-packed with stunning flower displays and striking floral structures.

And as they ventured further inside and realised there was a water-filled stream running through the centre of the cathedral, people understood the festival was something special.

In September, film crews were at the cathedral again for the grand final of BBC Two’s The Choir: Sing While You Work.

Choirmaster Gareth Malone OBE and the cathedral’s choristers joined forces for an evening of choral celebration to find out which of the three competing finalists would be crowned best workplace choir.

When it came to Christmas celebrations, to describe the cathedral as festive would be an understatement.

Not only did it take more than 2,000 baubles to decorate the masterpiece tree but thousands of people also attended a huge Christmas Gift and Food Fair at the cathedral.

Among the highlights of the Christmas music programme were the Winter Wonderland concert, which featured performances by the cathedral’s choirs, the Ely Imps and Pat Brandon and his jazz band.

And on December 20, rock legend and classical musician Ian Anderson performed the Christmas Jethro Tull.

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