MUSICAL director Michael Johnson is confident that this year's Devizes Eisteddfod will be the biggest ever with more than 200 classes and more than 1,000 young people taking part from Friday to Sunday.

The competitive arts festival will take place at six different venues around the town and will this year include two days of dance contests at Lavington School.

Mr Johnson said: "This year will be the 71st staging of this event and seven of the country’s top adjudicators will be coming to the town to judge classes in music, drama, speech and dance.

"The Town Hall Assembly Room, Cheese Hall, St James’s Church, St John’s Church and St Andrew’s Church will host events spread over the three days.

"While there has been a slight reduction in the number of applications for music, speech and drama classes this year numbers for dance have doubled with more than 350 dancers coming from as far afield as South Devon, to compete in two days of competition at Lavington School, 9am-9pm on both Saturday and Sunday."

Many local primary schools will be taking part in classes and children have been practising hard for months. The choir from Holy Trinity primary at Great Cheverell has won a cup in the past and headteacher Mercedes Henning is hoping it will do well again this year.

Admission to watch performances is free for music, speech and drama but there will be a £5 charge for adults to see the dance and £2 for children.

In addition to the performances on Friday and the weekend there have been more than 150 entries for the Eisteddfod pre-adjudicated classes in art, literary and photography.

Mr Johnson said: "The best work in these classes will be on display in the Town Hall at the Festival Concert in the Assembly Room on Saturday, November 25 at 6pm when some of the most notable performances in the Eisteddfod will be heard again."

Admission to this concert is free with a retiring collection. Staverton Primary School, one of the finalist choirs in the Eisteddfod’s recent Wiltshire Choir of the Year Competition will be performing at this concert.

Two further concerts will be held in the New Year January 28 and February 4 at 3pm in the Assembly Room with free admission free when further class winners will be performing again.

A programme giving full details of all Eisteddfod events is now available at Winkworths Estate Agents, Market Square, Devizes and at each venue on festival days, price £2