Music, poetry and comedy in first announcements for North Norfolk’s premier arts festival

Sunday 21 – Saturday 27 July 2019, Holt, North Norfolk Box Office 01603 598699

New Holt Festival artistic Director Anwen Hurt has announced the first highlights for the 2019 festival. Now in its eleventh year, it’s one of the East of England’s most anticipated events. Each July the festival sets the charming North Norfolk Georgian country town alight with performers, musicians, art exhibitions and literary events. Local audiences and cultural tourists flock to the town to enjoy the delights on offer.

The early announcements include two music stars with many weeks in the charts between them. Both are appearing in the magical outdoor Theatre in the Woods venue.

Punk princess Toyah is well known these days for her TV, film and theatre acting, but it is her music that takes centre-stage in Holt. This year is her 40th as a top music draw and she’s bringing her full electric band for a special show marking that momentous achievement. The award-winning rock legend is a vibrant performer and an inextinguishable flame, charismatic, outspoken and impossible to categorise. She has amassed thirteen top 40 singles, recorded twenty-four albums – and still found time to write two books, appear in over forty stage plays, act in twenty feature films and present hundreds of television programmes. Toyah rocks into Holt on Friday 26 July for a 40th anniversary retrospective which will include favourite hit singles and album classics.

Georgie Fame holds the rare position of being both a popular household name and a respected musician’s musician. His Holt show is one of a very select number of UK tour dates. A true music legend, Georgie’s impressive array of hit singles include the number 1’s Yeh Yeh, Get Away and The Ballad of Bonnie and Clyde. He has collaborated with some of music’s most famous names, including Van Morrison, Muddy Waters, Eric Clapton, Gene Vincent and Rolling Stone Bill Wyman. In this very special and intimate evening on Saturday 27 July, audiences will be treated to Georgie’s hits and music from the artists that have influenced him – all interspersed with personal stories and anecdotes from his incredible career. Earlier the same evening the ferocious grooves and searching improvisations of MOBO Award winners and Mercury Music Prize nominees Kairos4Tet will take centre stage. With their blend of classic and contemporary jazz, with folk influences their infectious melodies will linger long after the music stops.

Music legends of a very different type are the Britten Oboe Quartet. Appearing at the Auden Theatre on Thursday 25 July, they will perform standard classics such as Mozart’s oboe quartet alongside lesser-known works from Britain (including Norfolk educated composer EJ Moeran’s Fantasy Quartet) and abroad. Founded by Nicholas Daniel and colleagues from Suffolk-based Britten Sinfonia, the quartet have the highest musical standards. They’ve played together over many years, resulting in warm, expressive and above all enjoyable playing.

Stars from the eastern region are also a feature of the festival. Poet and theatre-maker Luke Wright is celebrating the 20th anniversary of his first ever gig with an extensive national tour of his show Luke Wright, Poet Laureate (pictured above). The show enjoyed a two-week sell-out run in Edinburgh, and was hailed by critics as his best ever. With a new Poet Laureate due to be announced in 2019 he’s chucking his hat in the ring. He’s on a mission to write poems to unite a nation divided by austerity and Brexit. Can it be done? Can one poet ever really represent an entire nation? The centrepiece of the show, as always, is Luke’s own blistering verse and impassioned delivery. Big-hearted and quick-witted, a Fringe First and Stage Award winner, Wright is truly a wordsmith and raconteur at the top of his game. Completing the line up is poet, raconteur and TV and radio scriptwriter Molly Naylor whose verse manages to celebrate humanity whilst despairing of its ugly bits.

Author’s talks are always a popular part of the festival bill and the first to be announced is international best selling novelist Kate Mosse. Kate’s books have been translated into thirty-seven languages and published in more than forty countries. She is the Founder Director of the Women’s Prize for Fiction and a regular interviewer for theatre and fiction events. In conversation with Kate Roma she will talk about her life and work, including Labyrinth and The Burning Chambers, the first in a new sequence of historical novels.

Musical comedy sisters Flo & Joan are very unique talents. The Radio 4 regulars are bringing a brand-new show of dark, witty songs Alive on Stage to Holt. Perpetrators of viral hit song The 2016 Song (which received over 50 million views online) they’re like a mash-up up of Flanders & Swann, Flight of the Concords and Garfunkel & Oates. It’s sure to be an evening you won’t soon forget!

Anwen said ‘I think we’re giving just a taste of the range, depth and variety that will be on offer when we announce the full line up at the end of April. With MOBO and Fringe First award winners in the line up, big names like Toyah, Kate Mosse and Georgie Fame alongside performers from the region making a name for themselves on the national stage I think we are on the right track. It’s been a pleasure to programme these wonderful artists and I’m delighted to say there are even more to come!’

Chair of the Festival Trustees Adney Payne added ‘I’d like to express the Festival’s gratitude to Anwen for creating such a wonderful taster for the full programme which I think will excite us all when we announce it next month. We have events for every member of the family including community and children’s events and of course our sensational international art exhibitions.’

Entry details for the Holt Festival Art Prize, which attracts submissions from far and wide, and a new Art Prize for young people will be announced soon.

The 2019 Holt Festival runs from 21 – 27 July. Tickets for the early shows go on sale to Friends, Ambassadors and Sponsors at 9am on 8 March then on general sale on 22 March. The full programme will be announced in late April. For full details of the programme, updates and how to become a Friend, Ambassador or Sponsor of the festival visit

Holt Festival is generously supported by Gresham’s School.

Box office: 01603 598699 or online at

Holt Festival early highlight listings info 2019:

Monday 22 July 8.15pm £22/£5
Musical comedy sisters Flo & Joan present a brand new show of dark witty songs.
Holt Festival at the Auden Theatre, Cromer Road, Holt NR25 6EA

Tuesday 23 July 2.30pm £18/£5
The international best-selling author talks to Kate Roma (ex Future Radio presenter) about her life and work, including Labyrinth and The Burning Chamber, the first in a new sequence of historical novels.
Holt Festival at the Auden Theatre, Cromer Road, Holt NR25 6EA

Tuesday 23 July 8.30pm £15/£5
With a new Poet Laureate to be announced this year Luke Wright is chucking his hat in the ring and embarking on a mission to write poems to unite a nation divided by austerity and Brexit.
Holt Festival at Holt Community Centre, Kerridge Way, Holt NR25 6DN

Thursday 25 July 8pm £22/£5
Oboist Nicholas Daniel, together with his colleagues from the award-winning Britten Sinfonia, play classics including Mozart’s Oboe Quartet and lesser-known works.
Holt Festival at the Auden Theatre, Cromer Road, Holt NR25 6EA

Friday 26 July 8.15pm £35/£5
TOYAH (music/gig)
The punk princess and her full band play a 40th anniversary retrospective, which will include everyone’s favourite hit singles and album classics
Holt Festival at Theatre in the Woods, Cromer Road, Holt NR25 6EA

Saturday 27 July 7pm £38/£5
GEORGIE FAME, plus KAIROS 4TET (music/gig)
The legendary musician plays some of his greatest hits and music by artists that have influenced him, interspersed with personal anecdotes from his incredible career. Support comes from Kairos 4Tet, MOBO Award winners, who play an infectious blend of jazz and folk.
Holt Festival at Theatre in the Woods, Cromer Road, Holt NR25 6EA

Box office: 01603 598699 or online at