Who needs Glasto? Look at what’s on your doorstep!

Betty Brawn, appearing at Hebden Bridge Arts Festival, 2011
Betty Brawn, appearing at Hebden Bridge Arts Festival, 2011
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IT’S Glastonbury this weekend, but if sleeping in a tent in a muddy field is too much for you, there’s plenty to enjoy on the doorstep as the 18th Hebden Bridge Arts Festival gets under way.

The festivities commence on Friday (June 24) when Hebden Shorts opens at the Little Theatre. The Saturday and Sunday performances have been sold out for some time, but tickets for the Pay What You Want show will be available on the door of the Little Theatre from 6.45pm. Don’t get there too late!

Saturday, June 25, sees an afternoon of free street entertainment in St George’s Square.

Sponsored by Welcome to Yorkshire, the fun starts at 11am and the line up includes Strong Lady Betty Brawn and the Tenth Avenue street band. Hebden Royd Mayor Coun Scott Trickett will officially open the festival at 3pm.

There will be more family fun available at Kidsfest which will run between noon and 4pm on Saturday at Holme Street Arts Centre. Organised by Hebden Royd Town Council, it promises to be an afternoon of arts and crafts delights.

Saturday night sees trombone star Dennis Rollins and his Velocity Trio at the Trades Club. Dennis gave an unforgettable performance as part of the 2005 Festival, so make sure you don’t miss this one!

There’s a real festival treat in store on Sunday, June 26, with a double bill of choral music in the beautiful setting of Wainsgate Chapel in Old Town. Choirs in the Chapel features Ars Nova Sacra from Hungary and the Madrigirls from Glasgow.

Audience members are encouraged to picnic in the grounds during the interval. More music is on offer at the Trades Club on Sunday evening, when singer/songwriters Jason Feddy and Patsy Matheson will be on stage with a chilled-out sound to round off a busy weekend.

For something more uptempo, exciting young band The Collision will give their debut performance at the Ted Hughes Theatre at Calder High School on Tuesday, June 28.

Expect to hear new music inspired by rock, hip hop, classical and jazz played on a wide range of instruments including Javanese gamelan.

Award-winning novelists can also be found during the festival’s first week. Sarah Hall will read from and talk about her work at St Michael’s Hall, Mytholmroyd on Monday, June 27, while Melvin Burgess and Michael Stewart are on the menu at aj’s on Thursday, June 30.

There are still some tickets left for comedian Russell Kane at the Picture House on Wednesday, June 29, and fans of jazz-inflected “sambossa” are encouraged not to leave it too late to see the fabulous Monica Vasconcelos at the Trades Club on Thursday, June 30.

Box office manager Maggie Holborow said: “We’ve had an excellent response to the programme during the first week of the box office. Tickets are going well and we strongly recommend buying in advance. Leaving it to chance may result in disappointment!”

Hebden Bridge Arts Festival 2011 is supported by Arts Council England, Hebden Royd Town Council, Sweet & Maxwell and Welcome to Yorkshire.

For full details of all events visit www.hbaf.co.uk or call in to the festival shop on Albert Street. Tickets and information are also available by calling 01422 842684.