Stage is set for eighth Holt Festival

The Searchers

The Searchers - Credit: Archant

A north Norfolk market town frequented by the royal family is set to welcome show business royalty to its heart this week.

Holt festival’s artistic director, Charles Pugh. Picture by Rodney Smith

Holt festival’s artistic director, Charles Pugh. Picture by Rodney Smith - Credit: Archant

TV comedian Jenny Éclair, former BBC war correspondent Kate Adie, forensic mind reader Colin Cloud, and romantic novelist Joanna Trollope are among the guests performing at this year's Holt Festival, which gets underway on Saturday, July 23.

And with the sun shining on the town, which boasts a unique outdoor venue, the stage is set for the stars to shine.

Looking forward to the programme of events, the festival's artistic director Charles Pugh said: 'It's going to be such a lovely festival, it's such a wonderful county town and the summer has finally joined us.

'It's a festival of all the arts – we do music of all kinds, we do drama, we do dance, poetry, fine arts and children's events. There is something for everybody and all price ranges, including a lot of free events, particularly for children.

Kate Adie examines the role of women in WWI as she speaks about her latest book. Picture by Ken Lenn

Kate Adie examines the role of women in WWI as she speaks about her latest book. Picture by Ken Lennox. - Credit: Archant

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'The venues are particularly intimate, there is this sense that you are up close and personal with these great stars and, in this sort of weather, the open-air arena - the Theatre in the Woods, where we put on the big rock concerts on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday night - has a particular appeal.

'It has got a Glastonbury style stage, under a canopy of trees, wonderful amplification and lighting; if you haven't seen it you must come.'

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The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, comedian Mark Watson, John Illsley of Dire Straits, and The Searchers will all perform in the Theatre in the Woods during the festival, which runs from July 23 to 31.

However, tickets are selling fast so festival-goers are urged to book in advance to avoid disappointment.

The Crazy World of Arthur Brown

The Crazy World of Arthur Brown - Credit: Archant

Charles said: 'John Illsley has sold out on the Saturday night but there are still tickets for The Searchers - we all used to date women to those songs going back to the 60s and 70s.'

Former Conservative MP and broadcaster Gyles Brandreth is the first of the big-name acts to appear. He is performing at the Auden Theatre on Sunday (July 24) at 8pm.

Earlier in the day, the annual Holt Art Prize will be announced by Sir John Hurt, with all the shortlisted entries exhibited for the public at the Auden Theatre throughout festival week.

Charles said: 'We put on 30 shows plus for the main programme, but the Fringe programme also has two shows a day, there is a free concert programme in the church, and there is a magnificent fine arts festival.

Gyles Brandreth

Gyles Brandreth - Credit: Archant

'We have 60 volunteers and a management operation of about 15 or 20 people so it's very inclusive of the community and the enthusiasm is a key aspect. We're thrilled to bits with the positive response and the traders of Holt like to see the lively action that it brings to the town.'

Holt Festival runs from July 23 to 31st, For more information and to book tickets, call 01603 598699 or visit

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