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The real Ed Sheeran performing in Bury St Edmunds and Ipswich? Nearly

PUBLISHED: 19:00 14 June 2017 | UPDATED: 20:12 14 June 2017

Jack Shepherd mingles with the crowd during his The Ed Sheeran Experience set at The Nearly Festival. Photo: Contributed

Jack Shepherd mingles with the crowd during his The Ed Sheeran Experience set at The Nearly Festival. Photo: Contributed

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This year’s Nearly Festival is benefitting from the Ed Sheeran factor, with the Suffolk singer-songwriter’s tribute act proving almost as popular as the real thing.

Victoria Goddard performs a Motown set at The Nearly Festival. Photo: Contributed Victoria Goddard performs a Motown set at The Nearly Festival. Photo: Contributed

Co-organiser Danny Banthorpe laughed: “I’ve booked the real Ed a few times for events before he was famous. It’s become quite a joke that I’m paying these tribute acts more than I paid the real Ed Sheeran.

“I think his mum’s going to be there selling her Ed range because we’ve partnered up with St Elizabeth Hospice this year. It’s a cause close to everyone’s heart in Ipswich and hopefully we’re going to help make lots of money for the charity.”

Asked what they wanted to see and what they were looking forward to most, a Sheeran tribute topped onlines polls followed by Queen.

Queen, Bon Jovi, Oasis, Ed Sheeran, Kings of Leon, Beatles, George Michael, Stevie Wonder and Motown play Abbey Gardens, Bury St Edmunds, this Saturday and Sunday and Ipswich’s Holywells Park the following weekend.

Definitely Might Be as Oasis, performing at The Nearly Festival in Bury St Edmunds and Ipswich. Photo: Contributed Definitely Might Be as Oasis, performing at The Nearly Festival in Bury St Edmunds and Ipswich. Photo: Contributed

The Bury St Edmunds dates also include Kaiser Chiefs, Blur, Taylor Swift and Katy Perry. The Ipswich line-up, moved back a week so it didn’t clash with Saturday’s Elton John gig, also features tributes to Amy Winehouse, Stereophonics, Specials and Madness.

“It’s a bit of a mixed bag this year to keep everyone entertained; just feel good music everyone can sing along with and reminisce,” Danny said of the festival, now in its second year in both towns. Saturday in Bury St Edmunds has sold out with limited availability Sunday. Ipswich is selling well and last weekend’s Colchester debut sold out too.

The idea beind the event is it’s nearly a festival - not as big, not as loud and not as expensive as the real thing can be. As well as music, there are lots of kids activities to enjoy.

“We’ve changed directon with our kid zone. Last year we had a stage with a few acts through the day. It was often the case parents wanted to see a certain band and it clashed with the workshops so we’re making it more informal. We’re doing lots of different stations with princess sing alongs, dance classes, craft workshops, more interaction so kids can join in whenever they want. About half will have a small fee and the other half free.”

Gates open at 12.30pm, closing 9pm Saturday and 8pm Sunday both weekends.

If you haven’t sent Santa your Christmas list yet, pop tickets for this festive-fuelled fairytale on it first.

It’s not Christmas without a visit to Red Rose Chain’s The Avenue Theatre. We spoke to writer and director Joanna Carrick and actors Emma Swan, Darren Latham and Ryan Penny about The Elves and The Shoemaker.

A great panto starts from the moment the audience enters the auditorium and starts looking at the set laid out before it. Arts editor Andrew Clarke talks to designer David Shields about the art of creating a larger-than-life panto world

DanceEast is staging the premiere of a new dance-theatre production of the children’s classic The Borrowers. Arts editor Andrew Clarke spoke to director Jane Hackett about putting dancers in the middle of an animated world

Charlotte Smith-Jarvis says Greg Davies, live in Ipswich as part of the You Magnificent Beast tour, is one of the funniest stand-ups she’s seen.

Robert Wright throughly enjoys Dick Whittington, this year’s panto offering at Bury St Edmunds Theatre Royal

Cockney fun Fairy Pearl promised us she would take us to “a world of pure imagination”.

The Colchester Mercury clearly know that they have got a pair of panto superstars in the infectiously funny Dale Superville and Dame Antony Stuart-Hicks and have harnessed their talent for comic mayhem for another Yuletide adventure.

A pantomime being put on in a north Essex village is bringing members of the community together – and raising money for charity.

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