The Lichfield Festival, one of the country's longest-running celebrations of The Arts, returns for a 39th year in July.

As ever there is plenty to enjoy in a packed programme, from dance to music, and comedy to children's theatre.

Here's festival director Damian Thantrey's guide to the 2021 line-up!

Thursday 8th July

The 2021 programme opens with a return visit by Ballet Cymru and their production of Giselle in the extraordinary setting of Lichfield Cathedral

Tickets are going fast and this event will also be streamed live (further details via our website,

We also welcome Lichfield-born actor, writer and comedian, and regular Edinburgh Festival stand-out performer, the hugely-talented Katie Arnstein, for her fabulous show, Sexy Lamp, about the peaks and perils of a life in showbiz.

Friday 9th July

One of my favourite voices, Eddi Reader, tops the bill in the Cathedral this evening. 

From Perfect with Fairground Attraction to her solo folk career, this is arguably Scotland’s greatest living female voice appearing at the Festival, as part of her 40 Years Tour.

A shout-out too for the first appearance by one of our Artists in Residence, pianist Danny Driver, playing a magnificent programme (twice!) including Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition at St Michael’s Church.

Image: Genevieve Stevenson

Saturday 10th July

I’m going to pick out some jazz today – Jonathan Gee (who performed in our Nat King Cole show with Cleveland Watkiss in 2019) returns for an evening of jazz inspired by the music of The Beatles. 

All in the stunning venue that is The Hub at St Mary’s.

We also welcome back the BBC National Orchestra of Wales to the Cathedral. 

Smaller forces than usual for distancing, but still bound to be a sensational concert, with violinist Fenella Humphreys.

Sunday 11th July

The amazing Mica Paris will be starring in the Cathedral – the undisputed British Queen of Soul, singing timeless gospel classics and putting her own twist on new covers of songs by Rag ‘N’ Bone Man, Labi Siffre and Foreigner. 

We’ve also got stand-up with ‘best haircut in comedy’, Tom Ward, and a fun-packed G&S Express show in The Hub – with hits from all/every show Gilbert & Sullivan wrote but in just 75 minutes, all dressed up as a murder-mystery whodunnit!

Monday 12th July

This evening sees our first outdoor event of the Festival – and it’s the amazing Metronomes Steel Band bringing us a taste of the Caribbean in the beautiful courtyard at Swinfen Hall Hotel

I shall be popping in for a rum punch…

…and there is a sublime marriage of music and dance in the Cathedral where international star guitarist, Xuefei Yang, is joined by Flamenco dancer, Maria Vega, for a night of Spanish Rhapsody.

Tuesday 13th July

There will be glorious songs and stories from the superb voice of Liza Pulman in the Cathedral tonight (joined by her fantastic band), with new versions of classic songs by Randy Newman, Irving Berlin and Michel Legrand, as part of her hit album The Heart Of It.

I’ll also be getting peckish by this point in the Festival and so will be making sure to see comedy chef, George Egg, who mixes great gags with gourmet food (which you get to taste at the end), in his show Movable Feast. 

His 6pm show is also a Pay What You Can event, so come and join us, whatever your budget!

Wednesday 14th July

World music takes centre stage today, with a return visit from the extraordinary group, Kabantu, in The Hub (including a late-night show), sandwiching more comedy from newcomer, Sam Lake, and his new show Cake.

There are also two chances to hear the sublime voices of choral stars I Fagiolini in the Cathedral. 

When singing together has been so difficult for professional and amateur choirs alike in the last year, it will be very moving to hear voices of this quality coming together in the amazing acoustic of Lichfield’s glorious Cathedral.

Image: Matthew Brodie

Thursday 15th July

There are two performers tonight that I don’t want to miss, so I’ll be doing both shows back-to-back! 

I’ve been a fan of saxophonist Tommy Smith for many years and am thrilled I’m going to get to hear him in a solo jazz/improv late-night performance in the Cathedral…

…but I’ve also commissioned what will be a tremendous show by Artists in Residence, Jessica Walker and Joseph Atkins.

It’s a new cabaret show “(Dead) Funny Women” which celebrates the genius of performers like Elaine Stritch, Fanny Brice and Gertrude Lawrence, through songs by music theatre heroes Sondheim, Cole Porter, Noël Coward and Richard Rodgers.

Friday 16th July

We’ve got a bit of a brass theme this year with Grimethorpe Colliery Band visiting and a fantastic young trumpeter, Lucy Humphris, playing on Thursday 15th

Today, one of Europe’s leading young trombonists, Kris Garfitt joins our Young Artist series. 

It’s not an instrument I knew much about but I’ve been doing my homework and really had my eyes/ears opened by the sound and writing.

My “surprise yourself” recommendation of the Festival.

Alistair McGowan is a man of many voices, but also of many talents and his show The Piano Man will be a sell-out. 

He’s going to play great music and do impressions as the same time.  Think Harry Kane meets Chopin…!

Saturday 17th July

This is our “Festival Family Day” and we’ve got an afternoon of free performances out on the West Lawn of the Cathedral, with a special free mini-concert by Grimethorpe Colliery Band ahead of their two Cathedral performances. 

TV auctioneer Charles Hanson will also be making a guest appearance. 

Plus, there will be a fantastic family show/concert outdoors at the Cathedral School telling the story of Peter and the Wolf.

Danny Driver and Chloë Hanslip will be giving us more glorious music in The Hub; and readers and history fans will not want to miss author and presenter, Tracy Borman, who is back after her sell-out appearance in 2019.

Image: Kaupo Kikkas

Sunday 18th July

The last day of the Festival and we’ll be guaranteed some laughs with 2 shows from the hilarious Justin Moorhouse, star of Phoenix Nights amongst many other things…

…and if you want a quiet and contemplative end to your Festival week, we have one of the UK’s finest classical performers, baroque violinist Rachel Podger, who will bring this year to a close with meditative Bach by Candlelight in the Cathedral. 


How to get tickets

With distancing and regulations expected still to be in place, things will be a little different this summer, with shorter event times and repeated performances, particularly those in the smaller venues. 

It also means capacity is limited and shows are quickly selling out. 

We’re operating a waiting list for sold out shows so that we can contact people should government restrictions be eased. | 01543 306271 (box office call-back service)