TOP-FLIGHT comedy, world class concerts, breath taking dance shows and more than 100 shows and performances are set to make this year’s Basingstoke Festival the biggest and best ever.

Between June 20 and July 13, Basingstoke will be a colourful centre for the arts and entertainment as the third annual festival, coordinated by Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council, gets underway.

Violinist Nigel Kennedy, comedian Dawn French and New Orleans jazz legend Wynton Marsalis will join home grown acts such as ventriloquist Steve Hewlett, the Hampshire County Youth Orchestra, local artists, dance companies and theatre groups in a colourful feast of festivities.

For the first time, international street performers will be taking over Festival Place, The Malls and the Top of The Town to entertain shoppers.

The programme for the festival, which launched today, is packed with more than 100 events ranging from exhibitions, walks, street theatre, dance and family entertainment to music festivals, culminating in the big outdoor music event Basingstoke Live on July 12 and July 13 at War Memorial Park.

Other highlights will include: Top Hat, a weekend of busking and street performance around the town centre on July 5 and 6, World Party, a celebration of the world’s foods, music and communities in Eastrop Park on June 28 and Basingstoke Festival of Choirs at the Anvil on July 6. Villages and communities around the borough are timing their local summer events such as fetes, shows and fun days to coincide with the festival.

Cabinet member for Partnerships at the borough council, Councillor Cathy Osselton said: “What a fantastic line-up we’ve pulled together this year, not just the big names but the up and coming artistes from the Basingstoke area itself, such as the Dynamix dancers and Oakley’s own celebration of talent, as well as community-based events like the Candover Valley Beer Festival all coming under the Basingstoke Festival banner.

“The programmes are free and available all over the borough so I urge everyone to take a look inside and find something to go along to and enjoy.”

Violinist Nigel Kennedy, who also appears at the Anvil on July 9, added: “It’s great to be in Basingstoke as part of this festival which breaks through so many cultural boundaries. I look forward to seeing you there!”

For more information and the full programme see