Rehearsals in full swing for Thursford Christmas Spectacular
PUBLISHED: 18:30 10 October 2018 | UPDATED: 07:13 11 October 2018
It began with just eight singers performing Christmas carols in an old farm shed.
But now, Thursford Christmas Spectacular is a show-stopping extravaganza which attracts more than 130,000 visitors every single winter.
Set in north Norfolk, near Fakenham, it is one of the most anticipated festive events in East Anglia, with audiences descending from across the country to be part of its four-decade history.
This year’s rehearsals for the 42nd show are now firmly underway and the cast - which includes 23 dancers, 56 singers, and a 31-strong orchestra - have been busy perfecting their routines.
John Cushing, the show’s founder, chief executive, and director, said: “For me, this is my career and I couldn’t imagine giving it up until I could not do it again.
“I really enjoy everything about it. I actually do like everything I pick to go in the show. So if it moves me emotionally, I hope it does the same for our audiences.”
What started as a Christmas carol concert for a crowd of about 530 people in a shed is now regarded to be the biggest Christmas show in England, possibly Europe.
It has also been known to be enjoyed by members of the Royal Family.
The 2010 Thursford Christmas Spectacular was attended by the future Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. It was their first public appearance together since announcing their engagement a month earlier. In 2012, the show featured a special tribute to the Queen to mark her diamond jubilee.
And with 50 coachloads of people arriving at Thursford every day, the show is estimated to be worth £10m a year to the Norfolk economy.
In fact, the show was so popular last year that more than 24,500 tickets sold for this year’s show before the 2017 run had finished.
During the Christmas Spectacular people can also visit the special Fantasy Land at Thursford, where they walk through a wonderful winter setting past life-sized penguins, polar bears and giant teddy bears, and busy elves hard at work in the toy factory, before meeting Father Christmas.
The Thursford Christmas Spectacular runs from November 6 to December 23, with two shows per day at 2pm and 7pm.
For more information, call 01328 878477 or go to www.thursford.com.
Nearly 500 dancers audition for this year’s Thursford Christmas Spectacular
Hundreds of professionals turned out to audition earlier this year, all with hopes of high-kicking, tapping or pirouetting their way to a spot in event.
And following two days of rehearsals, the panel appointed 23 dancers.
This year’s dance troupe will be the biggest ever to perform at the show and will comprise of professional dancers, many of whom have performed on the nation’s most coveted stages and are recognised West End performers.
The show runs for six weeks during the festive season and is three-hours long, with many performances already sold out.
Last year, a total of 24,500 tickets had already sold for this year’s Thursford Christmas Spectacular - before the event had even finished its 2017 run.
- For more information visit www.thursford.com/christmas-spectacular or ring 01328 878477.
· Thursford Christmas Spectacular initially started as a small carol concert hosted by the Thursford Collection in an old farm shed to a crowd of around 50 people.
· The show now attracts around 180,000 visitors a year to North Norfolk over the Christmas period, which is more than the 135,000 tickets sold for the 2016 Glastonbury Festival.
· The show generates around £10 million for the local economy.
· It is the largest performance of its kind in the whole of Europe.
· The cast goes through two months of rigorous rehearsal to prepare for the Christmas Spectacular.