Winchester Festival held a very successful launch event at the medieval Pilgrims’ Hall last week.

Under the ancient hammer-beam roof guests mingled and heard about the exciting line-up planned for the twentieth Winchester Festival to be held in July.

Those attending the launch event included The Lord-Lieutenant of Hampshire Nigel Atkinson Esq, the Mayor of Winchester Cllr Jane Rutter, the deputy mayor Cllr David MacLean, the leader of Hampshire County Council Keith Chapman, the Very Reverend Catherine Ogle Dean of Winchester as well as trustees, supporters and sponsors of the festival.

Mayor Jane Rutter said: “My husband and I will go to as many festival events as we can. I sing in the The Waynflete Singers and we perform in the festival every other year. I’ve sung in three, I’m a top soprano. Winchester Festival is the original and the best of the Winchester festivals. Now we have a plethora of them, a gin festival, a jazz festival, but this was the first.”

Carol Butler, Festival Director said: “The opening concert will be one of the big events. It will feature the violinist Tasmin Little playing Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons. Another big concert will be the choir Voces8. We’ve had a huge demand for tickets for that. With the talks, the biggest event will be John Simpson in conversation with Alastair Stewart. Last time he was at the festival we sold out.”

Carol added: “Ben MacIntyre will be talking about his book SAS Rogue Heroes. I think there will be a lot of interest in that.”

Carol said that she started working with the festival in 2007, this being her tenth, and said “We have been very lucky with our supporters.”

Timothy Pride, a trustee of the festival said: “There is of course a focus on Jane Austen this year. The author Joanna Trollope will be talking about her.”

He added: “This year, we have a strong use of local performers and a series of lunchtime performances with young musicians. This is the twentieth festival. It’s not always been easy financially but we’ve lasted this long as people enjoy it.”