Jam-packed Yorkshire Festival kicks off in Leeds today

Into the Woods.

Into the Woods.

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CULTURE vultures can enjoy an 18-day celebration of dance, music and art as the Yorkshire Festival kicks off in Leeds today.

More than 900 artists from 22 countries will contribute to performances across the county.

The giant disco ball.

The giant disco ball.

The first event in the jam-packed calendar is right here in Leeds and will see celebrities bringing 10 of the city’s iconic statues to life.

Talking Statues features the voices of Brian Blessed, Vic Reeves and Gemma Whelan from Game of Thrones, who have all recorded voice-overs for statues such as The Black Prince and the lions outside Leeds Town Hall.

Passersby can hear the stories by swiping their smart phones on specially-installed plaques.

Yorkshire Festival’s artistic director Matt Burman said: “We walk past these statues every day but by bringing them to life with some well-known voices, not only will locals and visitors to the city be entertained, they will also learn something about the historical figures who inspired each of these works of art.”

The Raunch.

The Raunch.

He added: “The next 18 days will see a fantastic mix of artists, performers, makers and musicians, both home-grown here in Yorkshire and guests from further afield, showcase some of the best creative talent from around the world.

“We hope local people and visitors to our fine county will make the most of having this cultural celebration on their doorstep.”

Another highlight will be the Big Disco on July 1, where thousands of people will dance beneath the world’s largest disco ball at Duke Studios.

Revellers can still sign up to hold their own ‘Little Disco’ and dance at the same time to a track that is currently being chosen by a public vote.

Chip shops will also play host to #Chipshopthemusical – a new show fusing UK grime and Yorkshire brass – complete with free fish and chips for the audience.

Other popular events will be cabaret show The Raunch and darkly comic musical Into the Woods.

KEY FESTIVAL DATES FOR YOUR DIARY

• TODAY: Talking Statues launch. The project runs for around a year, with a public guided tour on June 28.

• JUNE 21: Nash’s will host #Chipshopthemusical on June 21 and 22 before it moves to the Wetherby Whaler in Guiseley on June 23.

• NOW UNTIL JUNE 25: Sondheim’s Into the Woods at the West Yorkshire Playhouse.

•JUNE 29: Cabaret show The Raunch arrives at the Batley Frontier until July 2.

• JULY 1: The Big Disco, with the world’s biggest disco ball will be held at Duke Studios.

Freya Kirkpatrick rides her bicycle along a path through a stunning carpet of bluebells in Bow Wood near Matlock, Derbyshire. Picture: F Stop Press Ltd.

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