A MAJOR arts festival in Hampshire has announced its 2017 line-up.

THE Winchester Festival, running from July 7 to 15, will bring music, talks, drama and visual arts to the city.

The programme includes homages to Queen Victoria, Shakespeare and, in the year that marks the 200th anniversary of her death, Jane Austen.

Festival director Carol Butler said the Winchester Festival’s strength lies in the broad range of its programming.

“Showcasing musicians with an international reputation alongside renowned authors and speakers and giving a platform to exceptionally talented performers from Hampshire is what we aspire to achieve,” she said.

There will be the opportunity to delve into the mysteries of China, the daring of the SAS and the secrets of MI5 and hear exquisite music by Vivaldi, Bach, Mozart and Schumann, alongside 20th century repertoire.

The programme showcases world-renowned musicians, including Tasmin Little and a Winchester debut by vocal ensemble Voces8, as well as a series of talks, from BBC foreign correspondent John Simpson to best-selling novelist Joanna Trollope.

Tasmin Little returns to the festival for the opening concert in the Cathedral with the European Chamber Orchestra, where guests can hear her perform one of the violin showstoppers, Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons.

A varied programme of speakers will include Dame Stella Rimmington, formerly director general of MI5 and The Times journalist and author Ben Macintyre on the subject of the SAS.

Canon Andrew White, until recently, pastored one of the largest churches in Baghdad and has had a fascinating past as a peace-maker negotiating with tyrants and psychopaths amongst other things.

He will speak on his life which has included crossing paths with people from George W Bush and Tony Blair to Yasser Arafat and Pope John Paul II.

Historian and film-maker Michael Wood returns to the festival, speaking about The Story of China by exploring the people and landscapes which have formed arguably one of the most influential countries in the world today, and former politician and now director of the V&A Tristram Hunt explores ten cities that formed an empire.

Kate Williams will also speak about Queen Victoria’s accession to the throne and her influence thereafter.

One of the country’s best known novelists, Joanna Trollope will consider Jane Austen’s genius alongside the economic circumstances of her life on July 13.

Young people have also long been a feature of the festival, and over the week it will welcome a violinist, clarinettists, a string quartet, a French horn and numerous pianists.

For a full listing of events, visit the Winchester Festival website.

Tickets will be on sale to the public from May 19 from the Winchester Cathedral Box Office, with the exception of those which take place in the Theatre Royal, which are from the theatre themselves.