Host of stars lined up as the countdown begins for the tenth annual Holt Festival
- Credit: Archant
With an eclectic mix of music, art, comedy, poetry, dance and drama featuring stars ranging from comedy legend Jasper Carrot to chart-topping singer songwriter Leo Sayer, this year's Holt Festival promises to mark its tenth anniversary in style.
The week-long event, which kicks off on Sunday with a performance at the Auden Theatre by pianist Lucy Parham with narration by Victoria star Alex Jennings, also includes appearances by ex-Liberal Democrat leader Lord Paddy Ashdown and former Labour home secretary Alan Johnson; a cabaret show by Australian comedy star Pamela Shaw; a one-woman show based on the works of playwright Steven Berkoff by former EastEnders actress Linda Marlowe and a performance by the Tom Baxter Band, whose songs have been covered by stars ranging from Take That and Boyzone, to Shirley Bassey.
Fringe events include a sing-along screening of the hit film Mamma Mia, a children's art tent, and lunchtime concerts at town venues ranging from the library and community centre, to St Andrew's Church.
Arts professional Stash Kirkbride, who was invited to take on the job of artistic director for the festival's anniversary year, said the programme aimed to build on previous successes.
'We are proud of what we have achieved and we wanted to offer something special as we were very aware that for an arts festival to reach its 10th anniversary is pretty significant,' he explained.
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'From Jasper Carrot, through to lesser-known but equally talented people, we wanted to have things that people wouldn't have seen anywhere else and that they would remember in five years' time, and one of the things I'm most proud of is that I think we have achieved that.'
Mr Kirkbride, who trained at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School before carving a career as an actor, writer and broadcaster, is also founder and artistic director of Norwich Cathedral's annual Hostry arts festival.
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He added that his personal highlight was the Tom Baxter Band, whom he first saw in Cambridge eight years ago.
'I was just blown away,' he said. 'But there are so many other things happening, the festival is somewhere you can see something different every day for seven days, it's not at all exclusive and it can pride itself on being an open-minded and welcoming event.'
Holt Festival runs from Sunday until July 29. For a full programme, visit www.holtfestival.org