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Southwold Arts Festival brings Ed Balls, Lucy Worsley and fantastic creatures to Suffolk

PUBLISHED: 14:59 03 June 2019

Parade to mark the opening of the Southwold Arts Festival Photo: Lucy Taylor

Parade to mark the opening of the Southwold Arts Festival Photo: Lucy Taylor

Southwold is staging its sixth Arts Festival later this month. We take a look at a diverse line-up which will provide eight days of community entertainment

Patron, writer and broadcaster Emma Freud opened the festival. Photo: Chris UrePatron, writer and broadcaster Emma Freud opened the festival. Photo: Chris Ure

Southwold's creative community will be extending an enthusiastic welcome to everyone when its sixth annual Arts Festival begins its eight-day celebration on June 22. The opening day will begin at noon with a street parade featuring colourful costume and dance. The theme for this year's parade is 'fantastic creatures' and there will be a wonderful array of floats and bands from Station Road along the High Street to Market Square, where they will be met for the opening ceremony by the Festival's patron Emma Freud MBE.

Along the route there will be stalls, entertainers and music and the shops will compete to provide the best window display. Sarah Green, who is part of the planning team, said: "We have chosen the theme to allow people to join in at any level. Fantastic Creatures can be anything from a fire eating dragon to a beautiful butterfly. We are always amazed by the creative costumes and hope that people will embrace the theme with enthusiasm. It is lovely when children make elaborate costumes but if they want to just put on a pair of wings, that's great too. The Street Festival has gone from strength to strength each year and is a true community event."

A detailed programme for the Street Festival will be available on the day. Highlights will include special guest Dougie the Dinosaur, The Sole Bay Singers, Wrentham Town Band, Southwold Yukes, Daisy Honey Armstrong, The Lowestoft Longshoremen, Bojangles Dancers and Bezerka Circus.

The annual event attracts thousands of people from all over the region, and the first day, will end with 'An Evening with Ed Balls', well known not just for Strictly Come Dancing, but also for his television documentaries, his days in politics and, most recently, his climb of Kilimanjaro to raise funds for Comic Relief.

Fantastic creatures is the theme for this year's street parade at Southwold Arts Festival Photo: Lucy TaylorFantastic creatures is the theme for this year's street parade at Southwold Arts Festival Photo: Lucy Taylor

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The week then continues with 30 diverse events including comedy, talks, opera, classical, jazz, blues and country music including Barry Steele telling the Roy Orbison Story; Mark Flanagan of the Jools Holland Orchestra; Hank Wangford country music legend, and the magnificent Jonathan Wyatt Big Band with its tribute to Ella Fitzgerald.

The comedy will include 'Hancock and Co', James Hurn's stunning celebration of the radio and TV classic programme. He will be providing the voices not just of Hancock, but of the entire cast.

The festival director, Lin Le Versha, said: "The Southwold Arts Festival is a charitable organisation and its aim, is to bring to Suffolk the very best in arts and entertainment. Once again, this year we have the excellent classical young musicians just starting out on their auspicious careers, to celebrated musicians, bands and entertainers who are at the very top of their professions.

Katya Jones and Ed Balls performing in the  BBC show, Strictly Come Dancing. Ed Balls is speaking at the Southwold Arts Festival  Photo: Guy Levy/BBC/PA WireKatya Jones and Ed Balls performing in the BBC show, Strictly Come Dancing. Ed Balls is speaking at the Southwold Arts Festival Photo: Guy Levy/BBC/PA Wire

"It really is a festival for everyone including children and families. Children from Southwold and Reydon Primary and Saint Felix Prep schools will perform in three ten-minute long 'Snappy Operas' and there will also be a huge range of talks throughout the week covering topics as diverse as Storm Chasing with BBC Look East weather presenter Chris Bell, to an evening with the ever popular broadcaster and historian Lucy Worsley."

East Anglian based group the TestostaTones will be making a rare appearance in their native Suffolk. The group, who have been voted the UKs top acapella group are hosting 'An Afternoon with the TestostaTones' at the Southwold Arts Festival on Sunday June 23.

In 2012, the group came to prominence in a 30-minute documentary about the vocal style of singing known as Doo-Wop which was broadcast on BBC Radio 2. The show featured the group talking about the timeline of the genre, exploring how the style gave birth to early Rock 'n' Roll and of course performing classic Doo-Wop songs as well as their own originals.

Tickets for all the events are available online: www.southwoldartsfestival.co.uk and by telephone: 01502 722572 or in person at the Southwold Arts Centre in Cumberland Road.

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