Hitchin Festival to make triumphant return this summer

Hitchin Festival is set to make its triumphant return this July, with events across the town for the entire month

Hitchin Festival is set to make its triumphant return this July, with events across the town for the entire month - Credit: Hitchin Festival

Hitchin's month-long celebration of culture and entertainment is set to make its triumphant return this summer.

After last year's cancellation, Hitchin Festival is restoring itself to its former glory for its 30th anniversary, with extra events adding to the excitement surrounding its comeback.

The festival started life in 1991 as a week-long programme of events, and now hosts concerts, art exhibitions, talks and theatre shows from all parts of the town for the entire month of July each year.

As part of the festival's revival, The Dell at Woodside – Hitchin's very own open air theatre, which has been out of use since 1999 – is being reopened to mark 70 years since the venue's first performance.

Hitchin Festival is currently fundraising for The Dell at Woodside to restore the open-air theatre to its former glory

Hitchin Festival is currently fundraising for The Dell at Woodside, which saw its inaugural performance 70 years ago, to restore the open-air theatre to its former glory - Credit: Hitchin Festival

Working alongside Hitchin BID, The Bancroft Players and local creatives, the festival team are running a week of events to mark the momentous milestone.


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A broad selection of free and ticketed performances will run, ending with three nights of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Nights Dream; chosen as it was the first production performed at the Dell back in 1951.

Hitchin Festival organisers are currently fundraising to ensure that the Dell Theatre lives on longer than the month-long event, with monies raised to offset the cost of staging events and to plan the future of the venue as a community space for the people of Hitchin.

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Alongside the Dell's regeneration, a series of concerts will join the festival's line-up, as well as picnic and talks with local authors Zoë Folbigg and Kathleen Whyman at Hitchin Library.

Lunchtime concerts in St Mary’s Church will also feature, as well as a new play based on the history of The Priory building in Hitchin by the Market Theatre.

Author Zoë Folbigg will speak as part of Hitchin Festival this July

Author Zoë Folbigg will speak as part of Hitchin Festival this July - Credit: Alexa Loy Photography

Mostly Comedy will return for a week of live comedy, featuring podcast interviews with top comedians. 

Hitchin Festival's chair Glyn Doggett said: "With the ever changing nature of the pandemic we have been very cautious in planning this year's programme, which is slightly smaller than previous years.

Mostly Comedy will return for a week of live comedy, featuring podcast interviews with top comedians

Mostly Comedy will return for a week of live comedy, featuring podcast interviews with top comedians - Credit: Hitchin Festival

"We are hugely grateful to those groups that have planned to host or present events as we know how quickly they have worked to get them ready.

"We are working hard to ensure all events are run in a COVID-safe way and where possible offering the option of live streaming or recordings to ensure as many people as possible can enjoy them.

"After cancelling last year for the first time we were determined to bring the festival back in whatever way we could.”

The full programme for the festival, including the events in the Dell, will be released on June 1, with the box office running as usual from Hitchin Information in Churchyard.

To find out more about the festival, visit their website. You can donate to the Dell Theatre Crowdfunder campaign here.

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