Stars of classical, folk, world, jazz, cabaret and popular music, theatre, dance and the written word, are set as this summer’s Lichfield Festival line-up has been announced.

Headline acts in Lichfield Cathedral include multi-talented folk singer and Mercury Music Prize nominee Seth Lakeman and swash-buckling sea-shanty singers The Longest Johns along with the all-singing, all-plucking spectacle that is George Hinchcliffe’s Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain. Elgar’s Cello Concerto is among the majestic concert classics from the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, and renowned Baroque violinist and Associate Artist Rachel Podger plays Vivaldi’s much-loved The Four Seasons to open the Festival.

The Cathedral is also the backdrop for Ballet Cymru’s exquisite Romeo and Juliet and is the atmospheric setting for a late-night concert by 2024 RPS award-winning sitar player Jasdeep Singh Degun and for a magical candlelit concert by pianist and Associate Artist Danny Driver to close the Festival. There are more contributions from the Festival’s Associate Artists including five concerts by the Brodsky Quartet in which they play the complete Shostakovich Quartets, a brand-new comedy from Lichfield’s own award-winning story-teller Katie Arnstein, and cabaret shows with Jessica Walker and Joseph Atkins. 

A glamorous evening celebrates The Magic of the Movies with violinist/vocalist Lizzie Ball and world-renowned pianist and Ronnie Scott’s Artistic Director James Pearson. Also returning to the Festival is comedienne, songstress and one third of the iconic Fascinating Aida, Liza Pulman who teams up with Joe Stilgoe for A Couple of Swells. 

Charles Court Opera bring their latest Gilbert & Sullivan production, The Sorcerer, and wine-writer and broadcaster Oz Clarke reunites with Armonico Consort for a light-hearted look at music and wine. In Holst150 Lichfield Festival marks the 150th anniversary of the Cheltenham-born composer Gustav Holst, with choral music by The Carice Singers, his tone poem Egdon Heath played by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, and Holst arrangements from BBC Folk Musician of the Year Will Pound and percussionist Delia Stevens.

Jazz nights include Jeremy Sassoon’s Ray Charles Project and Wendy Kirkland’s centenary tribute to the music of Blossom Dearie. Joyful soul music comes from the 100-strong Lichfield Gospel Choir, while globally renowned qanun player Maya Youssef introduces Lichfield to the 78-stringed zither, and there’s folk from Jim Causley and Miranda Sykes (Ghosts, Werewolves & Countryfolk) and Wayward Jane.

History is a rich seam at this year’s Festival. Lesley Smith raids her wardrobe to present the story of Mary Queen of Scots in full Elizabethan costume, recorder quartet Palisander’s historical concert experience follows the wives of Henry VIII, and The Lord Chamberlain’s Men perform Shakespeare’s Hamlet in the open air, in period costume, with an all-male cast, just as it would have been in Elizabeth I’s day. 

Among literary events are historical writer and new Lichfield Festival patron Tracy Borman, forensic investigator Jo Ward, Einstein expert Samuel Graydon, and Philip Modiano who explores the Lichfield paintings of pre-Impressionist artist J L Petit. 2024 also sees the return of Lichfield Festival’s popular Midlands Choir of the Year, the final taking place in the Cathedral. 

For younger audiences, Waterperry Opera returns with Peter and The Wolf, and music, art and drama projects on the theme of Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons take place with local schools for this year’s Aspire! community and participation programme. Making a show-stopping climax, the Festival Fireworks is FREE to all at Beacon Park on Friday 12 July, in collaboration with Fuse/Lichfield Arts.

The Festival is extremely grateful for the generous support it receives from Arts Council England, Lichfield District Council, its Major Festival Partners McArthurGlen West Midlands, Pegasus Homes and Roxane UK (Aqua Pura), and from its corporate and individual supporters, all of which enables the Festival to bring stellar artists and events to the city year on year. Lichfield Festival runs from 4-14 July 2024.