Literary giants and political commentators at Buxton Festival

Star actors,literary giants and political commentators are heading for a prestigious cultural festival.

Star actors,literary giants and political commentators are heading for a prestigious cultural festival.

Television favourite Joanna Lumley is among those looking forward to an absolutely fabulous time in Derbyshire this month.

She is returning to take part in the Buxton Festival, of which her husband Stephen Barlow is artistic director.

Joanna said the festival enabled literary and music lovers to combine their interest with a holiday in spectacular countryside. “The Peak District is magic,” she said.

Her appearance at the festival this weekend sees her taking centre stage in one of the first literary events when she will be paired with designer Thomas Hardwick, who created the Olympic Cauldron.

Well-known names appearing in the literary series include Sandi Toksvig with her novel Valentine Grey and Melvyn Bragg with his latest. Grace and Mary.

Novelists AN Wilson, Jane Gardam, Deborah Moggach and Frances Osborne will present their books.

The Duke of Devonshire will talk about centuries of collecting at Chatsworth and Roy Hattersley will look at the history of the Devonshire family.

Paddy Ashdown will examine the Second World War raid by the Cockleshell Heroes and Simon Jenkins will give a Short History of England.

Two of the country’s most sought-after singers, soprano Claire Rutter and baritone Stephen Gadd will perform at the Opera Gala on Sunday, July 7, at Buxton Opera House.

A double-bill of opera productions features French romances. Saint-Saens’ La Princesse Jaune and Gounod’s La Colombe, and La Finta Giardinier.

There will be concerts by the Prince of Wales’ official harpist Claire Jones and Ronnie Scott’s house band The James Pearson Trio.

Running alongside the main musical and literary events will be Buxton Festival Fringe featuring 170 acts.

Harmony singing and dance from Africa, story-telling from Brazil and a musical from France feature in the fringe programme.

Home-grown performers include Harpur Hill School with a production of Oliver!, Tideswell Male Voice Choir in concert with the school’s choir and brass band and Buxton trio Nine Feet North playing Crosby, Stills and Nash’s seminal first album in full.

The festivals open this week and run until July 21.