Sunday, 15 December 2019

Literary festival has a Christmas present

Literary festival has a Christmas present

WAR Horse author Sir Michael Morpurgo and Born Free star Virginia McKenna are coming to Henley this December for a special Christmas charity concert organised by the Henley Literary Festival.

In what will be the only performance this year of an evening of storytelling and carols — previously produced by the same cast at the National Theatre — “The Best Christmas Present in the World” will take place at Christ Church in Reading Road on Friday, December 7, at 7.30pm.

Performed by candlelight and based on Morpurgo’s 2004 book, the show revisits the trenches of the First World War when soldiers on both sides put down their weapons in honour of Christmas Day 1914.

He will narrate alongside McKenna — another Festival favourite whose film credits include Ring of Bright Water and Carve Her Name With Pride, alongside her wildlife campaigning work with the Born Free Foundation.

A heartwarming tale of humanity and courage, this vivid and emotive war story is thoughtfully interspersed with traditional Christmas carols from Britain, Belgium and France — including While Shepherds Watched and Good King Wenceslas — sung by award-winning a capella six-piece Voices at the Door.

Henley Literary Festival events director Harriet Reed said: “Sir Michael’s previous two events were our fastest-selling ever and Virginia’s talks here have been truly captivating, so we are honoured that Henley will be hosting the only performance of this show as we mark the centenary of the end of the First World War.

“This is our first concert, so we are thrilled to be bringing two national treasures to Henley in support of Farms for City Children — a great cause close to both of their hearts.”

Recommended for ages seven and up, the show is in support of Farms for City Children, the charity founded by Sir Michael and his wife Clare that gives children from across the country the chance to live and work on a real farm.

Tickets are £25. To book, call the box office on (01491) 575948 or visit www.

The concert is part of a series of Henley Literary Festival pop-up events that also includes Gyles Brandreth on Friday, November 26, and sold-out events with bestselling novelists Liane Moriarty and Jodi Picoult last month.

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