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Behind the Scenes – Primadonna Festival

Alice Hardaker is the Director of Primadonna Festival, which takes place in Suffolk each July. She talks about Primadonna, and what else she loves about Suffolk.


Tell us a bit about yourself, and your role

I’m Alice Hardaker and I have the magical job of running the Primadonna Festival as its Director. Primadonna Festival’s lively programme is jam packed full of books, ideas, inspiration, music, comedy, discussions, food, cabaret, wellness, workshops, a families programme with kids entertainment, and so much more!

It’s a lot of fun, in Suffolk each July in the meadows amongst the animals of the Food Museum in Stowmarket. Weekend or day tickets are available, and there’s camping (and glamping) too.


What makes Primadonna special?

My favourite part of the job is collaborating with all the talented creative people and organisations to support the arts in our region.

Primadonna’s ambition is to create the UK’s most empowering and accessible book festival, set up to spotlight artists, writers and creatives of all genders, ethnicities and economic status whose voices are often underrepresented in the industry. We give our audiences the opportunity of getting really up-close to agents and book-industry influencers (for new writers and early-career publishing industry professionals especially, the Primadonna experience is unique). I am so happy that all this is happening in a region that I love and that I am so proud to call home.

As for the festival itself, I always love a bit of cabaret and comedy (my background is in theatre so maybe this isn’t surprising!) – and as a big 1990s Britpop fan I am really looking forward to hearing two behind-the-scenes giants of the music industry (Suzanne Bull and Jane Savidge) as they discuss Jane’s memoir, Pulp’s iconic moments and Britpop insider secrets in This is Hardcore.


What are your other must-do cultural activities in the region?

One of them has to be seeing a show at the New Wolsey Theatre. I serve on its Board of Directors and I am very proud of this because it is everything a theatre should be! Going to the New Wolsey is such a welcoming experience, with a strong sense of community, and the magic that happens on its stages constantly takes my breath away.

We are so lucky, also, to have so many brilliant smaller festivals in our area too – I am pretty sure, for 8 months of the year, you could fill every weekend with an amazing independent Suffolk festival.

And what else would you recommend in the region?

The coast! All of it, not just the sunny sandy summer beaches and pretty coastal towns – and in all weathers. People who are used to hilly landscapes sometimes raise their eyebrows when I say how much I love walking through East Anglia’s coastal marshes in winter, but I tell them to look up, not down. These Eastern skies… the brent geese landing in winter, the starling murmurations, the sunrises…


What makes this place so special?

I grew up in Suffolk and having spent 20-odd years working abroad or elsewhere in the UK, it is very lovely to be home. There is nowhere better than sitting outside a Suffolk pub in the late afternoon sun (because hey, it is always sunny in East Anglia), watching a gentle world go by.

Find out more about Primadonna Festival