Performers gear up for traditional festival of music, speech and drama at Bedford’s Corn Exchange

Pilgrims Pre-Preparatory School Orchestra at the 2013 festival.
Pilgrims Pre-Preparatory School Orchestra at the 2013 festival.

Budding performers of all ages will be on stage in Bedford as the county’s traditional festival of music, speech and drama gets underway this weekend.

The festival, held at the Bedford Corn Exchange, attracts more than 1,000 entrants from age 5 to over 80 from all over Bedfordshire, its neighbouring counties and even across the world.

Performances will begin on Saturday, March 1 and will run throughout the week until Saturday, March 8.

A spokeswoman for the festival said: “The Bedfordshire Festival of Music, Speech and Drama provides an opportunity for budding amateurs to compete for more than 200 prizes in one of the oldest, largest and most prestigious of such events in the country.”

Classes range from full choirs to solo singing, orchestras to oboes, classical Asian percussion to electric guitar. There will be verse speaking, mime, Bible reading, Shakespeare and much more.

The festival starts in style on Saturday, March 1 at 9.30am with performances by choirs and continues until 9.30pm everyday for the following seven days.

She added: “It culminates on Saturday, March 8 with a Gala Concert which starts at 6.30pm and which features the best of the festival so if you can only get to one session all week, make sure it is this one.

“With admission prices at just £2 per session (£1 concessions) and under 10s going free, the festival provides excellent value for money.”

Programmes containing the full schedule, priced £3, are available from The Tourist Information Centre and Tema Music in Kempston.

The music festival is a registered charity run by a dedicated committee of volunteers and is affiliated to the British and International Federation of Festivals of which the Queen is patron.