10 Bury St Edmunds Festival Treats

The 2018 line-up for the Bury St Edmunds Festival has been announced and what a treat this year is.

The venues are as stunning as the performances with some of our most visited attractions St Edmundsbury Cathedral, The Athenaeum, the Theatre Royal, the Abbeygate Cinema and Nowton Park, providing the backdrop to fantastic well known names.

With a fabulous mix of ten days of music, dance, film, drama, poetry, talks, exhibitions, walks and much more it’s hard to pick ten highlights but we have tried. 

For the full line-up of events visit the Festival website and stop by our Festival page for more inspiration for your trip to the Bury St Edmunds area.

Ladysmith Black Mambazo

For over fifty years Ladysmith Black Mambazo have sung powerful, uplifting songs that emote the struggles and passion of South Africa. Nelson Mandela called Ladysmith “South Africa’s cultural ambassadors”. The group sing a cappella in a joyously energetic performance that combines loud powerful choruses with softer, almost whispering chants where voices blend harmoniously, and tightly-choreographed dance moves. Featured on Paul Simon’s Graceland album 25 years ago, they have toured the world since, and were re-united with Paul Simon a few years ago in the Graceland world tour.

Benjamin Zephaniah

He befriended Nelson Mandela, fought in the 1980s race riots and recorded radical and relevant reggae music with Bob Marley’s former band. Benjamin Zephaniah was unable to read and write at school but became one of Britain’s most remarkable poets. And now he’s back with his first tour in eight years, to coincide with his remarkable autobiography, The Life And Rhymes Of Benjamin Zephaniah. In a compelling and inspiring show, Zephaniah will explain how he fought injustice and discrimination to lead a remarkable life, while sharing a selection of favourite stories and poems. 

Jools Holland & His Rhythm & Blues Orchestra

Jools Holland needs very little introduction and, with his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra, is in great demand all around the world.  Joined by some very special guests this promises to be a great way to kick off a weekend of gigs at Nowton Park. Featuring Gilson Lavis with special guest Marc Almond and Guest Vocalists Ruby Turner & Louise Marshall.


Starting life in 1978 when a group of young friends in Birmingham came together, UB40 went on to achieve massive success. They have been nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album four times, and in 1984 were nominated for the Brit Award for Best British Group.  They have had more than 50 singles in the UK Singles chart and have sold over 70 million records worldwide.  

Aled Jones

Aled will forever be remembered as one of the world’s most successful boy sopranos. In this concert Aled will duet with his younger self – his baritone voice of today singing with his tenor voice of 30 years ago and accompanied by guitar. For part of the concert Aled will be joined on stage by talent youngsters from Bury St Edmunds’ own Voice Squad.

The Tap Pack

Inspired by the kings of swing: Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jnr, The Tap Pack brings a new, exhilarating energy to a timeless style.
Coming straight from a run at Sadler’s Wells, with their slick suits, sharp wit and songs from Sinatra to Ed Sheeran, Australia’s finest tap dancing performers are a cocktail of pure entertainment, serving up classics with a twist, in a high-energy, hour-long show with a live four-piece band.

Brodsky Quartet and Willard White

The imagination and creativity of the brilliant Brodsky Quartet has led them to collaborate with a wide range of musicians and tonight’s concert sees them come together with one of the best-loved and most versatile opera stars of the last 40 years, Sir Willard White. 

This concert pays homage to the working relationship between the Hollywood Quartet and Frank Sinatra in the ‘50s which resulted in the classic ‘Close to You’ album. The programme has a strong American theme with Barber’s hauntingly beautiful "Dover Beach" and works by Copland, Gershwin and Kern amongst others.

Emma Johnson - Clarinet Goes to Town

Swing has always fascinated Emma Johnson because it’s such exciting music to play on the clarinet. She grew up admiring the recordings of Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw and as a young musician Emma was lucky to collaborate many times with the great jazz duo, Sir John Dankworth and Dame Cleo Laine.

In ‘Clarinet Goes to Town’ Emma collaborates with John Lenehan (piano) and Paul Clarvis (percussion) to explore some of the elements - ragtime, cakewalks, popular song, habanera, Negro Spirituals - which fused together to create jazz at the beginning of the 20th century, reaching an apotheosis in the music of the King of Swing, Benny Goodman.

Oz Clarke & Armonico Drink Again

Enjoy wine and music as the UK’s best-loved wine critic, Oz Clarke and Armonico Consort take you from the British Isles to Mozart’s Vienna through an incredible journey of wine tasting, witty tales and gorgeous baroque music. You might even discover that it was the Brits who invented champagne!

Beethoven will be a big feature with unearthed materials and stories that will make people see the master in a way that they have never seen him before.

Ute Lemper: Last Tango in Berlin

World renowned chanteuse Ute Lemper makes a welcome return to the UK stage performing her celebrated show ‘Last Tango in Berlin – The Best of Ute’.
The journey starts in Berlin with Ute's root repertoire of Brecht and Weill and the Berlin Cabaret songs. It continues into the poetic universe of the French chansons by Brel, Piaf, Ferre and further to the Argentinian world of Tango by Astor Piazzolla. Ute walks through the backstreets of Paris, Berlin, New York and Buenos Aires and lets ancient ghosts with new faces tell the stories of the lost, of love, survival, passion, dreams, societies, the past and the future. Ute also performs her own songs to connect the yesterday with the today through her own stories about these places and about life.

Walks, Tours, Film and Much More …

Visitors to Bury St Edmunds should also check out the wonderful walks and tours being run as part of the festival by the town’s Blue Badge Guides. Including ‘Dissent, Riot and Rebellion’, ‘Time on Your Hands’ and ‘Bury At War’.

Abbeygate Cinema will be hosting a season celebrating Women in Film over the Festival period with classic films featuring strong female characters including Hidden Figures, Suffragette, Erin Brockovich, Alien, Gorilla’s in The Mist, Out of Africa, Mary Poppins and the Young Victoria.

With so many things to do and places to see we know you’ll want to stay longer during the festival. Visit our festival page for inspiration or go straight to our Places to Stay section to find accommodation from country cottages to boutique hotels and from cosy bed and breakfasts to unique self-catering.