Town festival kicks off in style

THE 20th Bury St Edmunds Festival kicked off in style last night with the traditional Beating Retreat ceremony opening proceedings.The rousing retreat was performed by the Minden Band of the Queen's Division, in full uniform before a huge crowd gathered at Angel Hill in the heart of the medieval town.

THE 20th Bury St Edmunds Festival kicked off in style last night with the traditional Beating Retreat ceremony opening proceedings.

The rousing retreat was performed by the Minden Band of the Queen's Division, in full uniform before a huge crowd gathered at Angel Hill in the heart of the medieval town.

The annual performance, which heralds the beginning of the two-week cultural festival, was followed by a puppet parade in the nearby Abbey Gardens, along with a host of other performers including the Suffolk School of Samba.

Festival manager Nick Wells said: "I have really enjoyed this year's festival taking shape and I am genuinely excited by many of the events that will be taking place."


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Andrew Varley, St Edmundsbury Borough Council portfolio holder for heritage and culture, added: "The programme for 2005 is the rich mixture of all art forms we have come to expect and I should like to pay tribute to the officers of the borough who have been involved in its production.

"As usual we have performers of international standing and renown whilst at he same time providing a showcase for local talent and community involvement."

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Last night also saw the launch of BurySOUND 2005, the annual competition for local rock and pop bands, opened with a performance from last year's winners The Secret Hairdresser.

Between now and May 29, various venues in and around the town will play host to all manner of music, literature, drama and dance events.

Highlights include a collaboration between the Britten Sinfonia and Henri Oguike Dance Company, authentic South African township band Mbawula, and poetry and mandolin playing from author Louis de Bernieres.

Also appearing are the Russian State Symphony Orchestra, Julian Lloyd Webber, Royal harpist Catrin Finch and other events include a flower and continental market and a lecture on the life of Lord Nelson.

The festival draws to a close with the Greene King Festival in the Abbey Gardens, with tribute nights to the Beach Boys, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and the Blues Brothers, with a repeat performance from the Dubliners, who brought last year's festival to a dramatic close.

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