WITH a fresh new bill, a whole new stage and a fabulous historic setting, the Ludlow Arts Festival will be singing the Shropshire blues in style.

The great English poet John Milton premiered a play there in 1634, folk hero Fulk Fitzwarin plied his banditry trade down its alleyways, and the town is now home to Keira Knightley's beautician.

Truly, Ludlow is a place steeped in culture.

It’s fitting, then, that for 53 years the Ludlow Arts Festival has gathered Britain’s finest, most lifeaffirming arts and music together against the stunning backdrop of Ludlow Castle.

And from June 21-30, the festival will make a triumphant return, but organisers won’t be resting on the glories of the distant past. With a performance line-up mixing amazing pop and comedy in among the serious stuff, this year’s festival will appeal to all ages.

It will feature the usual spectacular outdoor concerts in the outer bailey of the castle, along with ten events in an all-new big top theatre.

Musical acts set to lay siege to the castle include the legendery 10cc, bebop superstar Jools Holland joined by his blues orchestra, two of Britain’s best loved and most enduring pop groups The Hollies and The Searchers and a spectacular recreation of The Last Night of the Proms presented by the very classical Gyles Brandreth, featuring The English National Philharmonic Orchestra and, more importantly, enough fireworks to win the Wars of the Roses twice over.

Meanwhile a smorgasbord of theatrical and spoken word performances in the Big Top Theatre will include hilarious sets from comedy giants including Reginald D Hunter, Paul Merton’s Impro Chums and from London’s West End The Reduced Shakespeare Company in their wildly popular The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged).

Celebrating 30 years of award-winning cabaret comedy Fascinating Aida take to the stage and there's a lunchtime recital from the world-renown pianist Young-Choon Park.

For younger audiences, and for four performances only, The Gruffalo’s Child will be heading to Ludlow straight from a hugely successful run in the West End, and 75 years after the most famous jazz concert of all time, Pete Long’s All Star Goodmen Orchestra recreate Benny Goodman's 1938 Carnegie Hall Concert in true style.

As well as culture Ludlow is well known for food and drink. The Ludlow Arts Festival will do no disservice to this proud tradition: visitors will be able to bring their own picnics, order super hampers from the Ludlow Food centre in advance or enjoy g reat local foods from the wide selection of food and drink stalls including Hobson’s Real Ale, Shropshire’s sustainable brewer and creator of award winning beers.

Festival directors Chris Davis and Chris Moreno said "We’re so happy to be bringing the festival back to Ludlow, hopefully bigger and better than ever before, with a more diverse bill and many exciting and unmissable acts. This is a bold new chapter in the story of the Ludlow Arts Festival.”

Tickets for all events are now on sale. For further details of all the performances as well as information on how to book, visit ludlowartsfestival.co.uk