The first festival opened on 3rd July 1982 with the Band of the Royal Marines playing in the market square and marching into the cathedral close to finish at the great west door. It was a kind of trumpet call to the City to be aware of our plans for pleasures to come. There were orchestral concerts by the Halle Orchestra and the Royal Philharmonic, both under leading conductors. The quartet in residence was the Endellion and artists included Cecile Ousset, Ruggiero Ricci and the Cambridge Footlights Review with Emma Thompson, Hugh Lawrie and Stephen Fry who did four performances in the Civic Hall. There was a first performance of The Tower of Babel – an ‘original music drama’ in which ninety-six children from local schools took part. There were the Suzuki Tour Company from Japan and Antiqua Cologne and Rouen Officium Pastorum from Europe. It was a foretaste of what was to become normal festival fare. The festival has always been, and I hope always will be, a team effort working for and with the community as a whole. Of the four of us who started it – Patrick, John, Gordon and I – I am the only survivor. I retire in this, its twenty-fifth year, confident that the Lichfield Festival will become even more strongly established than it is already. Here’s to the next twenty-five years!
©John Lang 2006
From its continuing success Lichfield Festival is now the West Midland’s pre-eminent multi-arts Festival with a reputation for bringing world class music, arts and entertainment to the region. In 2016 the Festival celebrated its 35th birthday. Lichfield Festival also runs the annual Literature Festival, a week-long book Festival which is now 10 years old and fast becoming a regional cultural highlight in its own right.
Past performers at our main July Festivals have included The BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, The Sixteen, The John Wilson Orchestra, Jan Garbarek and the Hilliard Ensemble, Paul Merton and his Improv Chums, Fascinating Aida, Bellowhead, Nigel Kennedy, Peter Snow, Lord Ashdown, some lighter moments from Miles Jupp, Alan Davies, Stephen Fry, Clement Freud, The Hairy Bikers and the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain. The programme is wide and varied with family events, workshops and exhibitions adding to the range of concerts, gigs and talks plus a Festival Fringe and a large Festival Market. Work with schools and the community takes place throughout the year and is central to our reputation. Our venues include Lichfield Cathedral and the Garrick Theatre.
The Festival currently receives around 40,000 visitors annually, principally drawn from a c.30 mile radius of Lichfield, taking in Birmingham, Burton, Coventry, Derby, Stafford, Stoke-on-Trent and Wolverhampton.
Guest Artistic Director 2018 – Damian Thantrey
Executive Director – Jennifer Mears
Development Manager – Dawn Markwell
Logistics Manager – Julie Motton
Ian Dudson the Lord Lieutenant
Chairman – Helen Wiser
Phil Davies, Ray Mansell, David Shaw, Marie Tisdale, Claire Tetley, Peter Bacon, Claire Lue, Debbie Liggins, Laura Boaler
Julian Lloyd Webber
Michael Fabricant MP