Young dancers limber up for one of Norfolk's biggest drawcards
PUBLISHED: 16:42 28 September 2019 | UPDATED: 17:09 28 September 2019
It's a world-famous mix of festive dancing, singing, music and fun, and it adds an estimated £10 million a year to Norfolk's economy.
And preparations are now underway for the 2019 Thursford Christmas Spectacular with the arrival of dancers for their first rehearsals.
Over the next six weeks the 23 young performers will spend hundreds of hours honing their routines before they join 56 singers and an orchestra of 31 on stage for the premier.
In charge of projects and marketing for the show is George Cushing, son of Thursford's chief executive John Cushing.
George said: "It's really exciting. It's going to be another couple of weeks until the auditorium is properly set up and then it's full steam ahead until the first show on November 6."
The dancers come from across the world, and the troupe was whittled down from a field of 400 who took part in auditions in London earlier this year.
From Saturday (September 28) they will rehearse for up to 10 hours a day.
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John Cushing, who also produces and directs the show, said: "It's fair to say we are one of the biggest dance troupes in the country."
George said this year's performance would include three "speciality acts" whereas they usually just had two.
Taking the stage will be Steve Hewlett, a ventriloquist who made it to the finals of Britain's Got Talent in 2013.
There will also be a couple who will perform tricks on roller skates as well as a high-wire silks act, and Billy George, an acrobat from Essex who performs with an oversized hula hoop object called a cyr wheel.
The Christmas Spectacular is the biggest event of its kind in the country, if not Europe, and during its seven-week season draws up to 50 coach-loads of visitors a day from across Britain.
Colin Window, cast manager, said: "Thursford is an extraordinarily successful story. There is nothing else in the world quite like it."
In August it won the Group Travel Awards' 'best event for groups' title for the second year running, beating out competition including Royal Ascot and the Edinburgh Tattoo.
The Christmas Spectacular has now been going for more than 40 years.