Holt Festival

The award-winning Holt Festival has rapidly established itself as one of the East of England’s most anticipated events. Festival organisers have just announced the first fourteen highlights for the July 2017 arts extravaganza, giving an intriguing sample of the full festival programme that will be revealed in May.

In the summer months the charming North Norfolk Georgian country town is a magnet for tourists. During Festival week, briefly and dazzlingly, it also becomes home to musicians, poets, actors, dancers, artists and comedians as well as attracting extra cultural tourists into the area. At venues all over the town visitors can catch performances encompassing music, drama, visual art, literature, comedy, kids shows, workshops and more.

Household names and stimulating discussion are established features of the festival. Original 70’s leather clad rocker Suzi Quatro has a catalogue of songs that have sold millions of records worldwide and earned her 101 weeks in the UK charts. Suzi has also enjoyed a long acting career that has included TV shows such as Happy Days, Minder, Absolutely Fabulous and Midsomer Murders as well as West End theatre runs, but she’s bringing her 7-piece band to Holt’s spectacular Theatre in the Woods to rock!

One of our favourite comedians, the ever-popular Jasper Carrott, is bound to be a big draw at the same venue. His unique new show features a blend of music and comedy, combining a stand up set with an all star band featuring Bev Bevan, founding member of ELO and The Move alongside other midlands music heroes.

At the other end of the musical spectrum there’s a rare UK visit from Spanish opera stars Javier Agulló and Amparo Navarro. The singers will perform a history of opera with arias and duets from Monteverdi and Mozart to Verdi and Puccini with a common theme of jealousy. Also watch out for million selling, Brit Award winning local boy (and former Gresham’s schoolboy) Humphrey Berney on temporary leave from Blake. For this special concert he will be joined by his friends mezzo-soprano Charlotte Tetley and pianist James Sherlock for an evening of song and virtuosic piano. Pop Up Opera, dedicated to broadening the appeal of the form, will perform their accessible and enjoyable adaptation of French composer Emmanuel Chabrier’s deliciously madcap and witty Une Éducation Manquée.

A night of homegrown Americana, Roots in the Wood, will see a double bill of Norfolk heroes The Vagaband and The Wangford Bass Combo featuring BJ Cole, the latest project from the grizzled Godfather of British alt. country Hank Wangford. Expect an experimental exploration of the reverberant lower depths of country music offset by Cole’s stellar pedal steel soaring stratospherically over the top.

Talks include former Observer Literary and Associate Editor, Robert McCrum, also an established BBC Radio Four broadcaster and distinguished veteran of the British book world. Robert will discuss matters of life, death and literature, in conversation with Charles Pugh. Professor Robert Winston is a pioneer of IVF and his work developed surgical techniques that improved fertility treatments for many people. The doctor, scientist, TV and radio presenter and politician comes to Holt to discuss the possibility of human genetic modification and its ethical considerations. As Chair of the Public Accounts Committee Margaret Hodge was the scourge of waste and inefficiency by successive governments and at the same time she helped to disclose the chicanery of companies out to avoid tax. This is chronicled in her engaging book ‘Called to Account’ with former Norwich Theatre Royal Chief Executive Peter Wilson.

East Anglian and Radio 4 favourites Kit & McConnel return to their favourite festival with a new set of comic cabaret songs. Hugely acclaimed Edinburgh hit Cautionary Tales for Daughters features comic song and animation from the appropriately named Tanya Holt, coming to Norfolk following a sell out London season that delighted audiences and critics alike.

The Ronnie Scott’s Soho Songbook uses world-class live jazz, narration and rare archive images to trace the history of the world famous London jazz club from its humble beginnings as a basement music bar to a venue that hosts international stars. These stars have included Nina Simone, Ella Fitzgerald, Miles Davis, Dave Brubeck and Michael Bublé as well as surprise appearances by the likes of Jamie Cullum, Stevie Wonder and Prince!  

Viva Cuba is a night of irrepressible Cuban rhythms, dance and atmosphere from the cream of UK based musicians and dancers – be prepared to get up, join in and learn to dance Cuban style.

Cirque du Cabaret promises to be one of the most spectacular events with a mix of circus, burlesque and cabaret that is bound to set temperatures rising. The company are London’s longest running cabaret company and feature 1920’s styled burlesque starlet Bonnie Fox, circus thrills from international stars from as far afield as Russia and Mz Marelena (AKA Abi Collins) as host.

2017 is to be the final year of Charles Pugh’s tenure as Artistic Director. ‘I always intended to step down after 3 years’ he said. ‘I hope I have built on the previous successes of the festival and left it in an excellent shape for my successor. But before that I think we have an exceptionally strong line up for this year – these shows are just the first highlights of a festival programme that, in my view, combines the best of national and international talents with some of the very best of our own Norfolk performers. Holt Festival will continue to stimulate and entertain as it astonishes and evolves.’

He added ‘We have more big names in the pipeline too and I’m already looking forward to announcing the full programme in all its glory in May, which will also include international art exhibitions, drama and children’s events’.

[box type=”info” align=”” class=”” width=””]The 2017 Holt Festival runs from 22 – 30 July.

Tickets for the early shows go on general sale on 13th March, following 2 weeks of priority booking (on Monday 7th March) for Friends, Ambassadors and Sponsors. For full details of the programme, updates and how to become a Friend, Ambassador or Sponsor of the festival visit www.holtfestival.org or call the box office on 01603 598699. 

Entry details for the Holt Festival Art Prize, which attracts submissions from far and wide will be announced soon.[/box]