A SPECTACULAR feast of music, art, film and theatre is in store at this year’s Harwich Festival.

The popular annual festival returns on Wednesday, June 22, and runs until July 2.

The programme begins at 7pm with a grand opening of the festival’s art exhibitions at Esplanade Hall, the Old Chapel and Bodgeners galleries, with Harwich’s piratical Wash Your Hands jazz band.

This is followed on June 23 with the first of a series of lunchtime concerts at St Nicholas’ Church.

Topping the extensive bill of ticketed concerts is Baluji Shrivastav on Sunday, June 26, at 2.30pm in the Harwich Arts and Heritage Centre.

One of the leading sitar players in the world, he will be playing a selection of Indian classical music.

Other world and classical evenings will be by Intarsia, Italian clarinettist Luca Luciano and Harwich’s own Choral Society.

For jazz lovers, the programme begins on June 24 at the Arts Centre with a festival debut by Suffolk organ trio Thane and the Villeins.

Drama is provided by the UPG Emergent Ensemble performing On the Strandline, which will be staged on the beach twice on June 25.

Dramatic Pause Productions bring the classic gothic tale of Dracula back to life at the Redoubt Fort on June 27, while the Smoking Apples Theatre Company unfold Kinder, the story of a small Czech-Jewish girl escaping on a Kindertransport train, on July 2.

Film is represented by the screening of movie Still, which explores the extraordinary potential in the everyday lives of the residents of the Lime Court care home in Harwich.

The festival concludes on July 3 in St Nicholas’ Church with an extraordinary performance on a single piano by the Argentinian twins Fabiana and Paula Chavez.

Peter Davis, artistic director, said: “It's been a busy time for the Harwich Festival team with the festival following on so quickly after the jubilee celebrations.

“Still, we are very pleased to provide a wide variety of music, theatre, exhibitions and spoken word.

“We are a little bit bigger than last year, with some old favourites returning and some new performers coming.”

For tickets, visit harwichfestival.com.