A feast of music, art, comedy and a whole lot more will be on offer in a few weeks time as the 2018 Leek Arts Festival launches in the town affectionately known as ‘The Queen of the Moorlands’.
The festival – which has been running every year since 1977 – promises an eclectic mix of music, drama, art and much, much more, all taking place in Leek from late April through to early June.
And as ever, the small group of volunteer organisers have been working hard behind the scenes to secure some top names to feature in the programme alongside local talent.
Two years ago Scottish songstress Barbara Dickson played to a sell-out crowd, with many fans disappointed that they were unable to secure tickets for the gig.
So it is with great delight that the festival team can confirm that Barbara will be returning to Leek on May 10 this year.
Festival spokesman Phil Edmeades said: “Tickets for Barbara’s appearance at Leek Arts Festival in 2016 sold out almost as soon as they went on sale and we know there were lots of people who missed out.
“She’s a hugely popular entertainer and when she got in touch with us late last year to say she’d love to make a return visit to Leek Arts Festival we jumped at the chance. It was just too good an opportunity to pass up.”
Another big name for this year’s festival is Tom Allen, a rising star in the world of stand-up comedy whose recent TV appearances include Mock The Week, 8 out of 10 Cats Does Countdown, Live at the Apollo and the 2017 Royal Variety Performance. He also supported fellow star of stand-up Sarah Millican on her recent world tour.
Tom will bring his unique style of acerbic wit and camp, riotous storytelling to Leek’s Foxlowe Arts Centre on April 25
Phil said: “We have developed a tradition of launching the festival with a bit of comedy, having brought a range of stars including Richard Digance, Mike Harding and Jeremy Hardy to Leek in recent years. It’s a formula that seems to work and we are confident Tom Allen will get us off to a great start.”
Other key names in the 2018 Festival programme include TRADarr – a folk rock big-band project whose core members are Gregg Cave, Mark Stevens, Marion Fleetwood, Guy Fletcher and PJ Wright – the ever popular Fairport Convention; Climax Blues Band – celebrating 50 years of touring and recording’ and local favourites Demon whose 2018 appearance at Leek Arts Festival will mark the 35th anniversary of the release of their ground-breaking album The Unexpected Guest.
Festival favourites the Birmingham Conservatoire Folk Ensemble will pack the Foxlowe stage again this year while other names in the programme include singer-songwriter Aerynn whose ‘corroded-folk’ has won her fans across the world; and top-notch Steely Dan tribute band Nearly Dan.
Phil added: “There will also be a wide range of concerts, gigs, art displays and other events organised by groups and individuals from outside of the Festival committee including a professional performance of ‘The Chocolate Soldier’, a play based on the story of Leek-born Bombardier Ted Hassall who formed an unlikely friendship with a six-year-old girl and her family after finding her message in a tin of chocolate sent to him as he served on the frontlines of the Somme during the Great War.”
For full details of the 2018 Leek Arts Festival please visit the website at www.leekartsfestival.co.uk from where tickets for many events can be purchased online.