Preview: Baccanalia @ Bishop Auckland Town Hall (30th April-1st May) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Bishop Auckland was once the childhood home of comedy great Stan Laurel. He was a pupil at King James School and a bronze statue of him stands in the town’s Theatre Square, near The Eden Theatre where his father had once been manager.

Looking to bring laughter and entertainment to a modern audience is King James pupil Thomas Wales who will be running a two-day entertainment festival, Baccanalia from 30th April to 1st May. Audiences are invited to enjoy comedy, cabaret, magical performance, storytelling, family-friendly workshops, burlesque, drag, silent disco and club nights line-up at Bishop Auckland Town Hall, with events featuring some of the finest performers from TV, stage and the comedy circuit.

There’s CSI: Crime Scene Improvisation, Katie Pritchard: Disco Ball, The BonBons Cabaret (in association with Alphabetti Theatre), Chris Connaughton: Storyteller, The Misadventures of David & Sam and the BACCANALIA: Silent Disco taking place on Saturday 30th April. With Paul Sinha: Hazy Little Thing Called Love, Notflix: The Improvised Musical, Tom Brace: Embrace the Impossible, Katie Pritchard: Hysterical Histories and The Puppet Parade Workshop bringing the joy on Sunday 1st May.

Thomas explains how how he was inspired to create Baccanalia after coming home to Bishop Auckland during the Covid-19 pandemic, following more than a decade working on live festivals and events across the UK and Australia.

“Growing up in Bishop Auckland, I always knew about the town’s links to Stan Laurel and the fact that we went to the same school. The town is transformed now and has carved out a place for itself on Britain’s cultural map.

When I got home, I started to think about events that would make arts and culture accessible for all and engaging for the communities in the towns and villages around South Durham, which is how Baccanalia was born,” 

Performances for the festival are individually ticketed and are available online at or by calling the Box Office at Bishop Auckland Town Hall on 03000 266600.

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