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A Packed Programme of Summer Concerts Takes Centre Stage

Wednesday, 30th May 2012

It will soon be time to chill the champagne and pack the hamper for the range of open-air music and theatre performances taking place across The National Forest this summer.

Set beside a pretty lake and surrounded by woodland, Conkers’ covered amphitheatre will be hosting a packed programme of brilliant bands throughout the summer months. The legendary ELO will be performing on 9 June, followed by Motown’s Greatest Hits 'How Sweet It Is’ on 14 July and The Rat Pack will be crooning to the crowds on 21 July.  The hugely popular outdoor musical extravaganza Conkers Prom in the Park will take place on 11 August featuring the Ibstock Brick Brass Band before TALON swoops in to delight the audience on 18 August.  The summer concerts at Conkers finish with a finale of U2:UK on 25 August and Queen UK on 1 September.  For more details on the individual events at Conkers visit the website or call the booking hotline 01283 216633.

In addition to this programme of events, the National Forest Folk Festival is putting on an impressive line-up of bands at Conkers amphitheatre from 6-8 July including Seth Lakeman, The Unthanks, The Bonfire Radicals, The Monster Ceilidh Band, Peatbog Faeries and many more. See Conkers’ website for full list of artists, times and prices.

Ashby Arts Festival takes place from 27 May to 7 June with a packed programme of events including fabulous folk from Lucy Ward, dance, craft activities, an U16’s Rock School, painting workshop, art and photography exhibitions. A highlight for 2012 is The Festival Stage on Sunday 3 June with free live music all afternoon. For more information and a festival programme visit the website

Olympicnic and Julius Caesar burst into action on 10 June in the wooded Glade at Rosliston Forestry Centre. The Oddsocks show begins at 4pm with an energetic blend of culture and comedy, tearing of togas, and swishing of swords. Tickets are available from Swadlincote Tourist Information Centre 01283 222848 and Rosliston Forestry Centre 01283 563483.

Music lovers and festival followers will descend on Catton Hall from 15-17 June as internationally renowned artists, fantastic upcoming performers and live bands perform at The Big Session Festival. The festival embraces the artists and the audience in an informal atmosphere of big shows, small gatherings and unique collaborations, always with music, tasty food & drink, stunning vistas and great company at its heart!  For more information visit the festival website

If you like theatre, there is a wonderful selection to see in The National Forest this summer. Visitors can bring a picnic and enjoy the highly acclaimed Festival Players Theatre Company performing Richard III at Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre on 22 June 2012. For more information call 01455 290429.

There will be outdoor performances at Snibston of the 1940s adaption of Shakespeare's comedy Much Ado About Nothing on 24 June followed by The Railway Children on 26 August.  For tickets call 01530 278444.  On 30 June Chapterhouse Theatre Group presents Romeo & Juliet, the greatest love story ever told at Ashby Castle. This theatre company will also use Ashby Castle as the setting for its performance of Pride & Prejudice on 18 August. There will be a Clash of the Knights at Ashby Castle on 28 and 29 July where medieval knights will fight for their honour in awesome combat displays. 

There will be theatre performances at Donington le Heath Manor House as The Lord Chamberlain’s Men perform their all male production of Shakespeare’s gripping thriller - Macbeth on 27 July. The Chapterhouse Theatre Company will have the backdrop of this medieval manor house as they recreate Oscar Wilde's - The Importance of Being Earnest on 10 August. Call 01530 831259 for more details.

QUAD, Derby's centre for art and film, is bringing some brilliant classic and contemporary films to The National Forest this summer, as part of its Summer Nights Film Festival.  The giant screen is coming to Rosliston Forestry Centre (20-21 July), Calke Abbey (10-11 August) and Kedleston Hall (17-18 August).  Films include: The Adventures of Tintin, Jane Eyre, Grease, The King’s Speech, The Woman in Black, Mamma Mia, The 39 Steps and Pride & Prejudice.  For information on times, costs and directions to venues visit or call the box office on 01332 290606.

Alice Cooper is headlining the Bloodstock heavy metal music festival on 9-12 August at Catton Park. Chris Slade from ACDC described the concert by saying “Bloodstock is a festival NO metalhead should miss”. For more information visit

There will be live music at the National Forest Wood Fair over the Bank Holiday weekend 26-27 August at Beacon Hill Country Park along with awe-inspiring lumberjacks, the fast and furious UK Championship Log to Leg Race, horse logging, chainsaw carving, pole lathe turning, tree pruning lifts, forest machinery, logging demonstrations, falconry and much more.  For more information visit the website

Melbourne Festival is the highlight of South Derbyshire’s cultural calendar. Each September Melbourne comes alive as a hub for creative and performing arts.  Concerts and performances will run from 15-29 September, with its popular Art and Architecture Trail, featuring over 100 artists exhibiting in 60 homes, halls and businesses in the heart of Melbourne, taking place on the opening weekend.  For more information and a festival programme visit the website

To find out what events are taking place the website provides a full listing.  Or for more information on attractions, activities, events and places to stay in and around The National Forest, the 2012 visitor guides to the Forest and Beyond are bursting with great ideas.  These are available from Tourist Information Centres or from the Visit section of our website.