Annual festival to feature packed programme of music and arts in Bury St Edmunds

James Galway Photo: CHRIS MORRIS

James Galway Photo: CHRIS MORRIS - Credit: Chris Morris

World-renowned keyboard player Rick Wakeman, virtuoso flautist James Galway and classical guitarist John Williams will top a stellar line-up at one of the region’s biggest music and arts celebrations this spring, it has been confirmed.

James Galway Photo: CHRIS MORRIS

James Galway Photo: CHRIS MORRIS - Credit: Chris Morris

Now in its 32nd year, the annual Bury St Edmunds Festival is set to feature 59 events across 13 venues this May.

With a broad range of entertainment from classical music to street theatre, films and exhibitions, the 10-day event is expected to attract thousands of visitors to the town between May 19 and 28.

The line-up was revealed at a launch event at The Apex this evening attended by a host of local dignitaries, sponsors and festival friends.

“We are delighted to announce the line up for Bury Festival 2017, which once again combines star names as well as local talent, young and old,” festival manager, Nick Wells said.

James Galway Photo: CHRIS MORRIS

James Galway Photo: CHRIS MORRIS - Credit: Chris Morris

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“What began in the early 1980s as a series of concerts over three weekends has grown into a wonderful annual celebration of music and the arts, which always creates a wonderful buzz and joyous feeling in the town, during those special 10 days in May.

“As always, the Bury Festival has a been a joy to put together and covers a broad range of styles from classical to jazz, folk, contemporary and world music.

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“Alongside artists who will be appearing at the festival for the first time, we are also delighted to welcome back performers including John Williams, the Aurora Orchestra, Clare Teal and The Tallis Scholars.”

As well as the programme at The Apex concert hall, festival events will take place in a range of other venues including The Athenaeum, Theatre Royal, St Edmundsbury Cathedral, Unitarian Meeting House, Moyse’s Hall Museum and Abbey Gardens.

James Galway Photo: CHRIS MORRIS

James Galway Photo: CHRIS MORRIS - Credit: Chris Morris

Local schools will also be involved through the ‘Creative Critics’ initiative which will see pupils from Woolpit Primary School, All Saints Primary in Newmarket and Glade Primary School in Brandon develop skills in art criticism and creative writing by attending a number of shows during the festival to produce reviews.

Mr Wells added: “The festival, in the majority, is about great music but we combine this with dance, drama, film and other events such as street theatre, exhibitions and history walks around the town.

“Abbeygate Cinema has also compiled an incredible programme of Suffolk and East Anglian-themed films which celebrate the region in all its majesty.

“It should be a great year for the festival and we look forward to seeing everyone.”

James Galway Photo: CHRIS MORRIS

James Galway Photo: CHRIS MORRIS - Credit: Chris Morris

Joanna Rayner, St Edmundsbury Borough Council’s portfolio holder for culture said: “The Bury Festival is a superb example of people in our town coming together to create something special.

“It appeals to an extremely wide audience and there is really something for everyone from the music of Vaughan Williams, Monteverdi and Ella Fitzgerald, to street theatre, music from memory and even history walks explaining the importance of sheep to the region.”

Brochures are now available from The Apex and other locations around the town.

A full line up of events can be found at

Tickets go on sale to festival friends on February 20 and to the general public on February 27.

Bury St Edmunds Festival highlights:

• Takács Quartet – one of the world’s greatest string quartets and the only one to be inducted into Gramophone’s first Hall of Fame will be performing at The Apex as one of just a handful of UK dates.

• Rick Wakeman – currently celebrating his 50th year as a professional musician, keyboard player, songwriter and broadcaster. He made chart history when his Piano Portraits album became the first solo piano album to enter the UK’s Top 10. It was inspired by the reaction to his performance of David Bowie’s Life On Mars on BBC Radio 2 in early 2016, following Bowie’s death.

• 1980s band Harvey & The New Wallbangers, which re-formed for a handful of one-off gigs this year with perform at The Apex

• Flute Fantasia with James Galway – known as the Man with the Golden Flute – who has sold more than 30 million records during a career that spans over 40 years. Sir James will appear with his wife, Lady Jeanne and pianist Michael McHale for a programme including works by Debussy, Kreisler and Marais.

• An audience with one of the funniest and best-loved comedy performers of our time, Tim Brooke-Taylor, who will discuss his long career with writer and broadcaster Chris Serle at The Theatre Royal

• The welcome return of Renaissance vocal group the Tallis Scholars at The Apex under the direction of Peter Phillips, with a programme that celebrates the 450th anniversary of the birth of Claudio Monteverdi.

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