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Nevill Holt Festival 2024

Written by Mark Johnson.

Nested in a beautiful area of East Leicestershire is where something quite magnificent happens every June.

The Nevill Holt estate, a grade one listed building dating back to the thirteenth century, opens its gates to host The Nevill Holt Festival. 

The 2024 festival runs from 1st until 26th June with a diverse array of events programmed. Headlining the festival is a new production of Mozart’s opera The Magic Flute featuring The Britten Sinfonia. The festival also features classical concerts, jazz, contemporary music, comedy, and a series of conversations.

The 2024 festival is a rebranding focusing on the multi-arts. James Dacre guest directs the festival after his great tenure at Northampton’s Royal and Derngate.

We took a visit to see the estate for ourselves. Upon arriving at the spectacular surroundings you are instantly struck by the majesty of the place but you instantly feel welcomed. We were personally welcomed by David Ross, owner of the estate and the festival. 

The passion Ross shows for the arts and for bringing in all audiences to the site was so evident. Our discussion turned to breaking down the traditional barriers and how accessible the festival is. Event tickets are priced from as little as £15 which also gives access to the beautiful grounds.

Fresh from our chat we were shown around the site beginning with chapel which can hold around 100 people for events. The historic and intimate surroundings makes for an engaging space for performance.

Perhaps the biggest surprise and hidden gem of the site is the theatre space itself. Seating 400 people, it’s a magnificent space, which offers clear unrestricted views from every seat. The retractable ceiling offers sunlight and fresh air for the warm summer evenings. Stepping on the stage and looking back on the space you could sense how well designed and thought out the theatre is and how great the performances must be in here.

Outside the theatre, on the lawn over looking a breathtaking view over 3 counties, a space where marquees are erected housing food options. A fine dining experience that allows an audience to enjoy food during the 90 minute interval of the opera or a BBQ which brings classic flavours to life. The social side of the festival feels just as important as the performance.

Walking around the space makes you appreciate the sculptures that have been collected through the years. Works by artists including Antony Gormley, Conrad Shawcross and Rachel Whiteread. 

The gardens offer a perfect spot for picnicking where visitors can bring their own food to enjoy in surroundings designed by Chelsea gold medal winning Rupert Golby and managed by head gardener Andy Bretherick. The immaculately kept areas rival any of the gardens you can visit around the country. The crowing jewel is a kitchen garden where produce is grown and used as part of the food offerings at the site. 

It’s clear how wonderful a space the entire Nevill Holt estate is. Thankfully the sun made an appearance on our visit and it just shows how the venue would be lovely for a summer visit once June comes around. 

The site is accessible and welcoming with a free chance to roam around and take everything in. The grounds are included in the price of the ticket furthering the great value and an experience like no other.

With the diverse array of events including comedians like Mark Watson, Jason Byrne, sports chat from Jonathan Agnew, conversation with Alice Roberts, Emma Dabiri, Reverend Richard Coles and more. 

The festival will champion hundreds of emerging artists and over 1,500 primary schoolchildren will create 50-minute versions of Humperdinck’sHansel and Gretel in partnership with DRET Music and the Royal Opera House.

With prices from as little as £15, enjoy surroundings that will take your breathe away and entertainment that thrills and delights. Mark your calendars for one of the theatrical highlights of 2024. A full programme of events can be found at https://nevillholtfestival.coming 

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