Celebrating all things Thetford

Thetford's Great Festival logo

Thetford's Great Festival logo - Credit: Archant

A fortnight of festivities celebrates the remarkable past and vibrant present of a great Norfolk town, writes Rowan Mantell

From a hoard of ancient treasure to a revolutionary and founding father of the United States, and from a medieval priory to its own unique papier-mache, there is a lot to celebrate in Thetford - and Thetford’s Great Festival is leading the way with music, dancing, drama, pantomime dames and diminutive town criers.

Thetford’s Great Festival began as the Thetford Festival six years ago, and the successful fortnight of summer fun became positively great in 2014.

This year the action opened with a colouring competition, followed by Thetford’s Great Pantomime Dame Pageant, a bordering-on-the-bawdy evening of grown-up fun as contestants, many from local businesses, strutted their stuff. The following day the Junior Town Crier Competition saw youngsters aged between six and 14 competing, noisily, for prizes.

Folk in the Gardens was a free afternoon of music in King’s House Gardens. Performing were the Ludlam Pikes from the Waveney Valley, Megan Hughes from Suffolk, husband and wife band Holmes and Bond, plus a four-piece indie folk band, acoustic folk, Americana and singer-songwriters Charley Jay and Chris Pidgeon.

On Bank Holiday Monday, August 29, the annual Prince Frederick Duleep Singh Cup cricket match will see a specially selected Thetford team take on The Young Lions, a Sikh side from Nottingham. The match honours the memory of the Thetford man who was also the son of the last Maharaja of the Sikh Empire. Bhangra musicians and dancers Eternal Taal will perform during the tea break.

The festival programme also includes walks around historic landmarks, music nights, picnics, a garden and allotment flower and vegetable show, a flower festival and living history from medieval money minters to Dad’s Army. The fortnight finishes with a history walk in St Peter’s Church, on Sunday, September 4, when intriguing characters from Thetford’s past are brought to life by members of the Thetford Players.

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Thetford’s Great Festival runs from Friday, August 19 to Sunday, September 4.

The two-week festival is run by Thetford Tourism and Heritage Partnership, which also organises the town’s Heritage Open Day programme on Saturday, September 12 and Thetford’s Anglo-Sikh Heritage Day on Saturday, September 26.