All-star line-up for Ashbourne Festival

Few of the people enjoying the entertainment lined-up for the annual Ashbourne Festival will realise that the whole show is pulled together by a small band of dedicated volunteers.

Working hard throughout the year in a little office in a street just off the town centre the Ashbourne Arts team are responsible for more than two weeks of interesting and diverse events including music, street theatre, poetry, comedy, talks and an art exhibition.

This year they have attracted some top names including: Toyah Willcox, Dame Patricia Routledge, Tim Brooke-Taylor, I Daniel Blake star Dave Johns, Sunny Ormonde, better known as Lilian Bellamy from the Archers and Guardian columnist Tim Dowling with his band Police Dog Hogan.

Toyah is kicking off the festivities at the Empire Ballroom on June 16, and bringing it to a close on July 1 will be the inimitable six-piece swing band King Pleasure and the Biscuit Boys.

In between there is feast of fun to suit all pockets, as all of the events that make up the now famous International Streetfest are free.

The action-packed two days on June 17 and 18 include acts from around the world such as Australians Zap Circus who perform jaw-dropping stunts with a distinct cheekiness and Angie Mack with a death defying hula-hoop performance.

From Canada there’s Duke Dreamer, a magician who, apparently, you can expect to set his bottom on fire, and Tianna The Traveller, who will be wise cracking with a whip.

Streetfest wouldn’t be Streetfest without The Wardens, so expect to see the comedy duo out and about around the town. Watch out if you are driving…

As if the organisers didn’t have enough to do this year they have decided to add a carnival procession to the vibrancy and fun of the two days.

The parade is themed in the spirit of Latin America and the Caribbean and everyone is urged to join in by donning an embarrassing holiday shirt and a hat. It will travel from Church Street to the Market Place between 11am and noon on June 18.

Other highlights of the festival will be a performance by the Pelléas Ensemble at St Oswald’s Church on June 23. Winners of the 2016 St Martin in the Fields Chamber Competition the ensemble is rapidly making a name for itself in the music world.

There is also a talk by James Rebanks, who has won a great following for his best-selling book The Shepherd’s Life.

For more details of the events on these pages and the many others go to