Lytham gets ready for a summer of fun
This is no longer a sleepy coastal community full of retired folk but a town set to entertain Lancashire.
Lytham will celebrate a panoply of prestigious open air events this year, as the summer months unfold under traditionally blue Fylde skies.
A diverse and expanded programme of open air theatre at Lytham Hall, five glittering nights of July promenade concerts, the world’s best golfers at the Women’s British Open Championship and the nostalgic glories of a 1940s weekend are all five star attractions.
There’s a well-chosen balance to the expanded 2018 theatre season designed for one of the country’s most successful outdoor venues, Lytham Hall. The Georgian mansion, which will this summer host five plays in its progressively restored parklands, drew the largest attendance in the country last August to two of the plays presented by leading touring specialists Illyria.
Peter Anthony, in his first summer season as hall general manager , said: ‘The amphitheatre of majestic trees provides first-class acoustics and the delightful lawn close to the house, with free parking nearby, is just right for a pre-show picnic.’
The open air season begins with Chapterhouse Theatre Company on Sunday June 17 staging Laura Turner’s adaptation of Little Women, marking the book’s 150th anniversary.
They are followed by Illyria with The Merchant of Venice on Sunday July 8, before the Hall’s first ever ‘double header’ theatre weekend on August 18 and19, as they present The Hound of the Baskervilles and The Pirates of Penzance.
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On Bank Holiday Sunday, August 26, Illyria will bring their ingenuity to this year’s spectacular family show, The Adventures of Dr. Dolittle. Their cast of six will double up furiously to play Polynesia the talking parrot, Colonel Bellowes, the mythical two-headed Pushmipullyu, the whimsical Dr. Dolittle and many more.
In mid-July Red Rose promoters Peter Taylor and Daniel Cuffe have again lined up an array of top class performers designed to draw a capacity audience of 100,000 to Lytham Green for the seven nights of the Lytham Festival.
Musical theatre quartet Collabro will launch the season on Monday, July 16, before The Mersey Beatles present a show on Tuesday to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the White Album. Next up it’s Steps and the Vengaboys on Wednesday, followed by DJs Pete Tong and Basement Jaxx with their Ibiza Party Night on Thursday. Emeli Sandé, Lancashire’s own Rae Morris and the soulful George Ezra top the bill on Friday.
Nile Rodgers and Chic will be a hot ticket on Saturday, before the Sunday spectacular this year will see Il Divo and Martine McCutcheon. Fireworks bring the week to an eye-catching finale. The world’s top women golfers will light up the testing Royal Lytham and St. Annes course from August 2 to 5 in competition for the Open championship. Top-ranked Shanshan Feng may be the first Chinese winner, but she can expect a battle with feisty American Lexi Thompson.
Lytham happily offers families simple and free attractions too. The colourful Club Day parade on Saturday June 23, accompanied by a rousing marching band, captures the essence of the community and, wherever you turn, you can see just why the town is Champion of Champions in the Britain in Bloom contest.
There are 40,000 visitors expected for the free 1940s Wartime weekend on Lytham Green on August 18 and 19, a spectacle masterminded by Tim Dixon, council tourism officer. An entertainment stage, battle re-enactments and a parade of vintage military vehicles are complemented by crowds of visitors revelling in their trilbies, spats, nylons and fake furs.
Julian Wilde, organiser of the Lytham Hall theatre season, said: ‘I believe the close involvement and warm Lancashire welcome from volunteers at all the open air shows is the key to success. ‘Visitor numbers have grown over the past eight years, with the 1940s weekend and open air theatre being finalists in the Lancashire Tourism Awards. Lytham has retained an old-world charm while putting on a commendable outdoor programme – a winning combination.’