THE Dudley Canal Trust, who are set to embark on a £3million construction and renovation project this spring, are also building their programme of events to widen their appeal to visitors.
With work starting on a new visitor centre following receipt of funding from the European Regional Development Fund, the Heritage Lottery Fund and other trusts, the Canal Trust were keen to broaden their events offering, and are promising dramatic theatre and music performances for the summer.
In addition to their regular line-up of Halloween and Christmas events – the caverns will this year host a variety of concerts and shows with a more classic twist.
The century-old Cradley Heath Male Voice Choir will kick off with a concert on Saturday, May 17, showcasing their repertoire which includes theatre and film soundtracks, operatic classics, folk songs from around the world and arrangements of more modern tunes.
This will be followed by a cinema screening of Phantom of the Opera in the caverns in June, with live music accompaniment, and a spooky celebration of historic horror tales in July.
As well as enjoying the new entertainment, organisers hope visitors will take an interest in the work-in-progress on the new portal – which will explain the history of the canal tunnels and mines and offer improved facilities, as well as link the canal to other Dudley attractions on completion.
June Hodgetts, of Dudley Canal Trust Trips, said: "We're thrilled to have secured such high-calibre performers to join us here at Dudley Canals in what will be a momentous year for us.
"They will add another facet to an exciting period of development, and offer a unique visitor experience with the spectacular backdrop of the limestone caverns, and the atmosphere and acoustics that creates."
For Phantom of the Opera on Saturday, June 28, the cavern will become a giant underground cinema. The screening of the classic 1929 silent horror film will be accompanied by live music from a guitar quartet, led by classical musicians Dodici Corde.
And theatre group, Don't Go Into the Cellar, will bring their show, Morbid Curiosities, to the underground venue on Saturday, July 19. This re-telling of creepy ghost and horror tales of authors such as Edgar Allan Poe, Arthur Conan Doyle and Robert Louis Stevenson promises an unforgettable night of spine-tingling drama.
Tickets are on sale now from Dudley Canal Trust Trips on 0121 557 6265.