Expectations are high for this year’s Portsmouth Festivities

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OLD and new strands of Portsmouth’s heritage – Charles Dickens and this year’s Olympics – will be the central focus of the city’s festivities in 2012.

That was the pledge of the cultural festival’s chairman James Priory at its launch last night. He also promised a lot of variety in the programme, which is called Great Expectations in honour of the 200th anniversary of the author’s birth in Portsmouth.

IN TUNE Portsmouth Military Wives Choir launch the 2012 Portsmouth Festivities.  Picture: Allan Hutchings (121471-140)

IN TUNE Portsmouth Military Wives Choir launch the 2012 Portsmouth Festivities. Picture: Allan Hutchings (121471-140)

‘This year there is a real range,’ said Mr Priory.

‘As well as Dickens and his life and imagination, we will also be looking at the 2012 London Olympics.

‘This is a chance for people in Portsmouth to celebrate the heritage of the city.’

The 10-day arts festival is held at various locations in and around the city from Friday, June 22, to Sunday, July 1.

The official programme was unveiled at an evening held in the New Theatre Royal, in Guildhall Walk, Portsmouth.

Patron Sheila Hancock delivered a reading from Dickens’s Nicholas Nickleby.

Afterwards she said: ‘Portsmouth should be very proud that it has such a creative core in the city.

‘This is the most amazing programme and I do hope people will make the most of it and have a fantastic time.’

The Portsmouth Military Wives’ Choir also made their public debut.

Two songs were performed – Love Lifts Us Up Where We Belong and Wherever You Are.

‘I thought the choir was fantastic and they all sang beautifully,’ added Ms Hancock.

Yesterday The News reported top children’s authors Anthony Horowitz and Portsmouth-born Michelle Magorian will give lectures, talks and workshops.

There will also be a lecture in memory of controversial Portsmouth-born columnist Christopher Hitchens who died in December.

On the music front, there are masterclasses with former BBC Young Musician of the Year clarinettist Emma Johnson and internationally-acclaimed composer Stephen Montague.

For more information go to portsmouthfestivities.co.uk