Four weeks of festival fun on offer

PUBLISHED: 14:39 25 May 2006 | UPDATED: 10:14 06 May 2010

Traditional Zulu dance will be on show at the Hitchin Festival

Traditional Zulu dance will be on show at the Hitchin Festival

GET your diaries out – it s almost time to book tickets for the latest Hitchin Festival. The new programme is out today (Thursday, May 25) and the box office opens two weeks later, manned from the Town Centre Initiative Office in Churchyard. This year eve

GET your diaries out - it's almost time to book tickets for the latest Hitchin Festival.

The new programme is out today (Thursday, May 25) and the box office opens two weeks later, manned from the Town Centre Initiative Office in Churchyard.

This year events have stretched from two into four weeks throughout July with a dynamic programme ranging from contemporary dance to literature, drama and music.

For the first time there will be a film festival, opening with restored footage from Edwardian England shot by Mitchell and Kenyon. There will also be a look at historic Hitchin and a series of short award-winning films.

"It is the first time we have had film," said festival secretary and Hitchin town centre manager Keith Hoskins. "As we don't have anywhere to show films in Hitchin, we have got Theatre Truck to come and they will park their mobile cinema in the market square.

"The Edwardian theme links in with our literary lunch, when author Max Arthur will talk about his book, Lost Voices of the Edwardians." Mr Arthur writes the popular Forgotten Voices books.

The festival, now in its 15th year, has at its heart the sensational two-day Rhythms of the World, the biggest free music festival in the country, on July 15 and 16.

Lunch-time concerts in St Mary's Church are also free and an established favourite along with the Priory picnic, where families and friends are serenaded by students from North Herts Music School before enjoying a spectacular firework finale.

Among the highlights are a visit from the prestigious London Contemporary Dance company's EDge group and the enticingly-titled Finery and Filth, with minstrel Dante Ferrara treating guests to Elizabethan entertainment from the basic to the bawdy.

The real spy who inspired James Bond and the wartime code-breaking work at Bletchley Park are the subjects of two charity talks arranged by North Hertfordshire District Council, to be held in aid of the British Schools Museum. The museum is also the venue for a talk on the history and architecture of London Underground stations and an evening of poetry and jazz.

Walks are as popular as talks and the ghost trail sells out every year. Another star attraction is a look round the lavender fields at Cadwell Farm where Zoe and Alex Hunter have replanted a crop that made Victorian Hitchin famous.

An evening of traditional dance and music arrives courtesy of the Lions of Zululand. Tickets include a South African barbecue and all profits will go to a South African school. The festival ends with a bang when Hitchin Thespians stage the daring Full Monty.

"The festival is definitely the strongest ever and covers a vast range of events," said Mr Hoskins.

The box office opens on June 12 and the festival runs from July 1 to 29. For a programme send an sae to Festival Box Office, Hitchin Town Centre Initiative, 27, Churchyard, Hitchin, SG5 1HP, or call on 01462 453335. Bookings can be made on 01462 453336. You can also look on the website www.e-hitchin.co.uk


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