The Stranglers, Lindisfarne and Queen drummer head south for festival

The Stranglers are one of this year's heedliners at Wickham
The Stranglers are one of this year's heedliners at Wickham

The Wickham Festival organisers are out to achieve their “impossible dream” by topping last year’s award-winning event.

The hugely-popular four-day fiesta was voted Best Festival (Under 15,000 capacity) at last year’s Live UK Music Business awards posing the problem of how to make it even better.

But with Tony Hadley, The Stranglers, Lindisfarne and the SAS Band featuring Roger Taylor of Queen confirmed as heading to the south coast to be this year’s headliners and ticket sales soaring, organiser Peter Chegwyn is confident this will be the best event yet.

He said: “We were absolutely delighted to win that prestigious award but it did present us with a massive challenge to keep improving. It was hugely successful so how do you top perfection?

“It was tough but we have secured a fantastic line-up this year. There is an amazing array of musicians which has been reflected in ticket sales and I really believe this will be even better than last year.

“Unfortunately we are not allowed to enter the awards again this year but our success has really put Wickham on the map and the great thing is that we no longer have to approach bands – they are coming to us!

We have had so many artists asking to play here that it was tough to whittle the list down. But I think we have a fantastic array of bands who will provide wonderful entertainment.

Peter Chegwyn

“We have had so many artists asking to play here that it was tough to whittle the list down. But I think we have a fantastic array of bands who will provide wonderful entertainment.

“And of course we have the usual array of craft and clothing stalls as well as a big variety of high quality food outlets and a wide range of activities for children who can roam safely.”

Spandau Ballet frontman Hadley tops the bill on the opening night on August 4 with the Stranglers and Bruce Foxton’s From the Jam as the main attractions 24 hours later.

Headlining on Saturday will be Spike’s All Stars Band with a line-up which will include Queen drummer Roger Taylor, former Marillion lead singer Fish, Madeline Bell and solo artist/actress Toyah Willcox with a chance of other top names also making a guest appearance.

They will be supported by the Trevor Horn Band who are likely to perform a range of hits produced by the legendary frontman who worked closely with Frankie Goes To Hollywood as well as Yes and on Band Aid’s Do They Know It’s Christmas. Also on the bill are the Oysterband plus Chas & Dave.

Lindisfarne close the four-day event on Sunday August 7 with strong back-up from Steeleye Span, Hayseed Dixie and festival favourites the Red Hot Chilli Pipers.

In addition to the three regular stages, there will now be a fourth platform where local and unsigned bands can perform with a view to possibly landing themselves a contract or at least gaining further exposure.

Mr Chegwyn added: “We pride ourselves on our family-friendly reputation and tickets are already selling well with sales up on last year’s record-breaking event.

“There is a real feelgood factor about this event which reflects our rapidly-growing reputation locally, nationally and internationally with fans coming from the USA, Canada and even Australia.

“Parents can enjoy the music knowing their youngsters are being well entertained. The atmosphere is very chilled and relaxed which is why so many people book to come back year after year, even before the line-up is announced.

“But with so many top names now confirmed we are looking forward to this being our biggest and best event yet.”

Weekend tickets are £160 or £80 for Under 16’s with Under 10’s admitted free. Day tickets for Friday, Saturday or Sunday can be bought for £60 (£30 Under 16’s) while evening tickets (after 6pm) are £40 (£20). Details at www.wickhamfestival.co.uk or email eastfest@talk21.com

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