Festival for all in North Devon

ADRIAN Edmondson, Seth Lakeman, Paddy Ashdown and Sir James Galway are just a few of the famous faces who will be rubbing shoulders with local talent in a North Devon Festival to beat the credit crunch blues. The 11th instalment of the wide ranging feast

ADRIAN Edmondson, Seth Lakeman, Paddy Ashdown and Sir James Galway are just a few of the famous faces who will be rubbing shoulders with local talent in a North Devon Festival to beat the credit crunch blues.The 11th instalment of the wide ranging feast of music, theatre, dance, sport, education and community events was launched on Friday in a party atmosphere at the Landmark Theatre in Ilfracombe.Acrobatic slack rope walker Kwabana Lindsay, local musicians Milli Taylor plus Pickpockets and Skyrockets, street entertainers and local youngsters all helped launch the festival in fine style.With nine "strands" this year, covering everything from live music, theatre and big name performances to village fayres, Victorian parades and art open days, the North Devon Festival has once again lived up to its reputation of providing something for everyone.This year it runs from May 23 until June 29 and once again features popular established events including the GoldCoast Oceanfest on June 19-21, Ilfracombe Victorian Celebrations on June 6-14, Appledore Visual Arts Festival from May 28-31, the ever growing Art Trek and Open Studios from June 19-28... the list goes on.The Festival unites the whole of North Devon and depends on the talent and initiative of the local people who give up their time to organise and run many of the events. It's this variety of community involvement mixed with the top-quality arts and entertainment, the familiar and eagerly anticipated blockbuster events, and the spectacular setting that makes the festival so special.In fact there are some 800 activities and events under the Festival umbrella, at more than 200 venues across North Devon and Torridge.Several events are inspired by the unique environment of the area, recognised across the world for its landscapes, wildlife and culture.The festival would not be complete without some big name performers, including story teller, performer and folk icon Seth Lakeman, appearing at the Queen's Theatre in Barnstaple on Thursday, May 28, closely followed by international flautist Sir James Galway on May 30.There is local music with the popular Cook Island Festival Open Mic on June 4, as a huge range of performers demonstrate the wealth of natural musical talent North Devon has to offer.LLAMA - the Lynton and Lynmouth Music Festival, has scored a coupe or two, with Badly Drawn Boy among the local, national and international performers all appearing at this free event from June 12-14.Rising US star Jason Mraz will be the headliner at another action packed instalment of Oceanfest in Croyde from June 19-21, celebrating midsummer with the region's top lifestyle, music and sport event.And don't miss Adrian Edmondson - on "thrash mandolin" - and his band The Bad Shepherds at the Landmark on June 23 for a night of Celtic punk fun!"In the past five years something like 200,000 visitors have attended the June festival events," said Alan Giddings, chief executive of North Devon Theatres Trust."The economic impact in June alone has been �48 million, with an investment by North Devon Council of just over �500,000 which they have to be congratulated for and I think that's a pretty good return."It's without doubt the biggest cultural event in North Devon, if not the South West - it's no wonder The Times last year named the festival as one of the top five UK cultural events."The North Devon Festival 2009 brochure covering every single event is now available from the Queen's Theatre in Barnstaple, the Landmark in Ilfracombe and selected outlets. Or visit www.northdevonfestival.org or call (01271) 324242.

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