The Lichfield Festival is back for a 38th year on Friday 5th July! A cultural extravaganza combining music, comedy, ballet, theatre and more, the festival began in 1982, making it one of the UK's longest-running celebration of the arts.

Thanks to Festival Director Damian Thantrey for his guest blog on this year's festival highlights.

Friday July 5th

Pop legend, Brit Award and Ivor Novello Award-winning singer-songwriter KT Tunstall (pictured) will be opening the Festival to a packed Lichfield Cathedral! 

There is ballet from Ballet Cymru with a stunning adaptation of one of literature’s most enduring love-stories: Romeo and Juliet.   

And you can also be transported from Lichfield to West Africa with drumming, song and dance via the traditional rhythms of Ghanaian group, Kakatsitsi.

Saturday July 6th

TV star and Strictly favourite, Russell Grant (pictured), is with us to host a special evening of music by the legendary composer and star of stage and screen, Ivor Novello, featuring many of his greatest hits including Keep the Home Fires Burning and We’ll Gather Lilacs, songs with particular poignancy as we remember the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings. 

There is also a further matinee of Romeo and Juliet to enjoy, plus an evening of comedy from the hilarious Olga Koch (a computer-programming Michael Bublé fan, with strong opinions on love and happiness!). 

And don’t forget the ever-popular Festival Market, running all day around the Cathedral Close and, as part of our 2019 theme to commemorate the moon landings 50 years ago in 1969, we have a fabulous Space Parade of giant puppets all made by local community groups!

Sunday July 7th

University Challenge star and TV presenter, Bobby Seagull (pictured), makes a first visit to Lichfield to answer questions and talk about his new book. 

Festival Patron, Emma Bridgewater, talks about her amazing career running her now famous Stoke pottery factory (you’ll probably find one of her mugs in your kitchen…). 

There is also a great naval rollicking romp to enjoy at the Guildhall with a double-bill of performances of Gilbert & Sullivan’s timeless HMS Pinafore. 

For a more reflective end to the weekend, cellist Michael  Petrov plays Bach by candlelight in the Cathedral…

Monday July 8th

World music features again today with the cool and eclectic Kabantu (Folk Alliance 2019 and BBC Introducing Artists) performing twice – both at our daily morning Wellness Hour and for a full evening concert at Swinfen Hall Hotel. 

You can also join us for one of the greatest works in the canon, as a 150-strong choir of local singers joins our world-class quartet of soloists and orchestra for a performance of Handel’s ever-popular Messiah. 

Another Monday highlight is a lunchtime appearance by 2018 BBC Young Musician of the Year sensation, pianist Lauren Zhang (pictured), at St Michael’s Church.

Tuesday July 9th

Mozart, the Moon, and Death all feature today. 

Firstly, the superb Mozartists are in town for a Mozartian travelogue taking in London, Paris, Vienna and Prague (to name a few) – all cities that have inspired major works in Mozart’s canon. 

Arias, symphonies and concertos feature, with a rare chance to hear the famous “I’ve Lost My Horn” Horn Concerto no. 4, played on the fiendishly difficult classical horn! 

The Moon again features as part of our 50th anniversary season to celebrate the 1969 moon landings, through a massed children’s choir singing local composer Duncan Moon’s tribute to Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, Moonwalk. 

And Death comes to Lichfield - or rather, The Death Show ­­­– a wry and comic celebration of mortality…join comedians Lucy Nicholls and Antonia Beck (pictured) as they stick a polite “two fingers” up to the Grim Reaper!

Wednesday July 10th

With environmental issues to the forefront of all our minds, two afternoon events look at our relationship with water (led by artist, writer and performer, Clare Whistler). 

There is also more comedy as we’re joined by Edinburgh Fringe sensation, Helen Wood as she celebrates that bastion of Britishness, in her show The National Trust Fan Club. 

In the Cathedral, we welcome back folk star Kathryn Tickell (composer, Northumbrian piper and recording star)(pictured) with her new band The Darkening, for music inspired by the wild, dramatic and weather-beaten coast of Northumberland. 

A second tribute tonight comes from artist in residence, jazz star Cleveland Watkiss MBE, who starts his residency with an evening devoted to Nat King Cole (to celebrate the centenary of the jazz legend’s birth).

Thursday July 11th

There’s more from Cleveland Watkiss MBE, as he turns his attention to his West Indian roots with an evening of reggae and ska (The Great Jamaican Songbook) at Swinfen Hall Hotel.

Our 2019 featured composer, the wonderful Jonathan Dove, joins us in conversation to celebrate his 60th birthday; and there’s musical comedy in St Mary’s from the returning Foundry Group…this time for an evening of music, mirth and mystery aboard the fictional SS Freedonia! 

Finally, on another packed Festival day, the Cathedral acoustic will revel in the soaring voices of charismatic choral ensemble, VOCES8, with a special programme looking to the heavens, as part of our Space theme: “Stargazer”. 

Their wonderful programme features music inspired by the moon and stars and runs from early polyphony right through to Kate Rusby’s Underneath the Stars, and Van Morrison’s Moondance.

Friday July 12th

By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes…”: butchery and betrayal abound as  Festival favourites, The Malachites, bring Shakespeare’s murderous Macbeth to the Guildhall.

If the “Scottish play” is too bloody for you, there’s something lighter from our hilarious comedy duo Moon, who comes to the Festival having sold-out at the Edinburgh Fringe last summer. 

Expect immersive sketches in this eye-catching and hilarious show!  There are more glorious voices on display in the Cathedral tonight, as the sensational Black Voices (pictured) return to the Festival for an evening celebrating the genius of the legendary Nina Simone.  

Joined by a 4-piece band and 5-voice backing group, Black Voices are guaranteed to “put a spell on you” and send you home from the Cathedral Feeling Good!

Saturday July 13th

Our final Festival day gives you the chance to go into space! 

Well, at least to get a glimpse of what it might be, through our pop-up Planetarium (running all day at Wade St Church).  There’s more family fun to be had when Peter Rabbit pops up at St Mary’s for a show of live music and “Musical Adventures”. 

Our last evening sees both comedy, as TV’s Andrew Maxwell brings his new show to Lichfield, and, musically, we go out with a bang, as the sublime BBC National Orchestra of Wales will fill the Cathedral with symphonic sound, in a programme book-ended by Edward Elgar and featuring Nimrod as part of the Enigma Variations.

How to get tickets for the Lichfield Festival

Full details of this year's programme, and where to buy tickets, are available at https://www.lichfieldfestival.org/

Related

Lichfield Cathedral
Cathedral
Outside Lichfield Cathedral

Winner - Silver Award - Enjoy Staffordshire Large Visitor Attraction of the Year 2018. Lichfield Cathedral is a medieval Cathedral with 3 spires set in its own Close and is treasured landmark in the heart of the country that prides itself in offering a warm welcome to all our visitors.

Swinfen Hall Hotel
Country House Hotel
Front entrance of Swinfen Hall Hotel

Winner - Gold Award - Enjoy Staffordshire Hotel of the Year 2018. The only hotel in Staffordshire awarded the AA’s coveted red stars and a three AA-rosette restaurant in a Grade II listed Manor House. Two miles South of Lichfield and ten minutes from the National Memorial Arboretum.