Searchers provide ‘Sweet’ ending to Holt Festival

The Searchers bring down the curtain on the Holt Festival.

The Searchers bring down the curtain on the Holt Festival. - Credit: Archant

Band fall in love with north Norfolk venue as they bring curtain down on eighth annual event.

Holt Festival chairman Adney Payne.

Holt Festival chairman Adney Payne. - Credit: Archant

The Searchers fell in love with the Holt Festival as they brought the curtain down on the eighth annual event.

Frontman Frank Allen described the Theatre in the Woods as one of a kind as he headlined the north Norfolk venue tonight (Sunday).

Second only to the Beatles as Liverpool's finest 60s group, the band wowed the audience in the intimate open-air arena by performing a selection of hits from their extensive back catalogue, including favourites Sweets For My Sweet; Needles and Pins; Love Potion No 9; and Don't Throw Your Love Away.

They topped off a week which also included sold-out performances from John Illsley of Dire Straits, comedian Jenny Eclair, former newsreader Kate Adie, and witty word-meister Gyles Brandreth, among others, at venues throughout the town.

The Searchers bring down the curtain on the Holt Festival.

The Searchers bring down the curtain on the Holt Festival. - Credit: Archant

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Reflecting on this year's festival, chairman Adney Payne said: 'We're very pleased, it has been a very good eight days, it has gone really well.

'For pure enjoyment it has been as good as ever, I think financially we will about break even which is great - we put on more free events for children and the local community, about 35 per cent at least is free, so we're really pleased, it has been a good festival.'

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Queues stretched across the playing fields at Gresham's School for the final performance of this year's festival at the 900 seat venue in the woods.

And organisers revealed they have already started planning for next year's event.

Mr Payne, whose solicitors firm Butcher Andrews sponsored The Searchers' appearance, said: 'All the artists, when they play there (Theatre in the Woods), say: 'This is amazing, I can't believe it.'

'I got a really nice email from a lady in Kent who came to see John Illsley on Saturday and said: 'This is fantastic because I can actually see the band and I am a very short person.' It's a good atmosphere but it's not too big.'

He added: 'I've been to lectures about Lawrence of Arabia, I've seen two bits of experimental theatre, I've had a question and answer session with Maggie Thatcher (Pip Utton), there has been flamenco, electric violins; the variety is great.'

Other famous faces performing at the festival, directed by Charles Pugh, included comedian Mark Watson, writer Joanna Trollope, forensic mind reader Colin Cloud, physician Dr Phil Hammond and Norfolk-based The Vagaband.

However, special insurance had to be sought for the appearance of The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, who lit up the woodland arena with a pyrotechnic show to accompany his 1968 global hit, Fire.

When asked if the festival would return for a nineth year, Mr Payne added: 'I think so. We're very pleased with how it has gone, we've got a huge team of volunteers who work really hard, so we're planning next year already.'

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