A HOST of star-performers and an array of outdoor events have been booked for the Frome Festival which returns this year for its 20th anniversary.

Following last year’s Covid-19 pandemic cancellation, the organisers have put together an eclectic programme for the festival from July 2-11.

Creative director Martin Dimery said: “We decided to run a number of live performances on the Ecos Amphitheatre, next door to the Merlin Theatre on the Frome College site.

“We will be installing a large canopy over the stage to ensure performers are kept dry. Audiences may have to brave the elements, but it hasn’t stopped Glastonbury.”

Included in the Ecos/Merlin programme are performances by top class rock, jazz and fusion artists like Jonny and the Baptists, The Fabulous Red Diesel, Sonic Silents and Rob Heron and the Tea Pad Orchestra along with cult comedians Paul Foot and George Egg.

The Silk Mill studios in Vicarage Street is also hosting outdoor events in their courtyard with some terrific musical names including Ian Ballamy and John Law.

A new venue to the Frome Festival, Marston Lakes, glamping site, will open its gates to day and evening visitors, presenting a wide variety of musical artists performing under a canopied bar, or around a campfire, overlooking the spectacular surrounding scenery between Frome and Tytherington.

The Festival will also host some wonderful free entertainment around town with intervention opera and dance performances popping up, “flash mob” style, in the town centre on both Festival Saturdays.On Saturday, July 10, in Victoria Park, a free and fabulous Turkish extravaganza Chalguh Chengi, featuring singing, dancing, veils, swords, drums and multiple instruments, will appear courtesy of Arts Council England.

As usual, there will also be the Art Trail and the highly popular Hidden Gardens where hundreds of visitors, often from far afield, descend on the private gardens of Frome residents.

No Frome Festival would be complete without its star names: The Government’s Covid road map suggests all indoor venues will be able to open to capacity audiences by June 21, just in time for the July 2 opening.If all goes to plan, The Lightning Seeds will open the Festival at the Cheese and Grain on Friday, July 2. They are best known for the hits Life of Riley, Marvellous and of course, the England football theme Three Lions.

“As the Euros will be reaching their climax, this could be the most fabulous post-lock-down party,” Mr Dimery said.

Also scheduled at the Cheese and Grain are the highly popular British Reggae group, Aswad.

This year’s big comedy name is the great Reginald D Hunter, the American- born star of stand up and many TV programmes, who will appear at the Memorial Theatre on Friday, July 9.

Look out also for the well-known comedy song-writer Mitch Benn and popular poet and performer John Hegley, both at the Masonic Hall.The Festival will host some exhibitions; this year’s Rook Lane Arts exhibition will celebrate 20 years of the Frome Festival, with artwork, memorabilia and film footage featuring some of the acts and events since its inception in 2001.

Early tickets will soon be available from the hosting theatre or hall. All other tickets will be available from the Cheese and Grain box office. Further details to be announced soon.

In the event of further coronavirus restrictions, some events may be cancelled or will play to reduced capacity, in which case, full refunds will be made from the point of purchase.