Leicester

Leicester celebrates 25 years of comedy festival

A picture of Graham Norton performing at the Leicester Comedy Festival in 1997 Image copyright Big Difference Company
Image caption Graham Norton performed at the Leicester Comedy Festival in 1997

A festival which has given a leg up to some of the UK's biggest comedians is celebrating its 25th year.

The Leicester Comedy Festival, which was first held in 1994, starts today and runs until 25 February.

The history of the popular festival will be charted in a new exhibition, called A Funny City, later this month.

Comedians Harry Hill, Matt Lucas and Sarah Millican are among those set to take part, with more than 120,000 people expected to attend the festival.

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Image copyright Big Difference Company
Image caption Chat show host and radio presenter Alan Carr performed there in 2006

The exhibition will feature archive footage of the festival as well as memorabilia donated from the public.

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Monty Python star Michael Palin will also appear alongside local people to talk of their memories of the festival.

Image copyright Big Difference Company
Image caption Many household names have graced the Leicester Comedy Festival stages including Jonny Vegas in 1997

Festival founder and director Geoff Rowe said: "The last 25 years have been incredible and archiving some of our stuff is really important so it'll be around, and publicly available, forever.

"We've worked with loads of people to put on the exhibition and website, including young people from across the city who have helped us hunt through storage boxes, scan items and design the final exhibition.

"There are some surprising clips and photos of comedians looking very young, in addition to a couple of clips of myself which make me feel really old."

Leicester Comedy Festival is the UK's longest-running and this year includes more than 840 events in 69 venues across 19 days.

A Funny City will be displayed at Soft Touch Arts, 50 New Walk, Leicester from 13-25 February.

Image copyright Big Difference Company
Image caption Festival founder and director, Geoff Rowe, with comedian Sarah Millican
Image copyright Big Difference Company
Image caption Game show host Nicholas Parsons pictured signing autographs at the festival in 1997
Image copyright Big Difference Company
Image caption Alan Davies on stage at the Leicester Comedy Festival in 1997
Image copyright Big Difference Company
Image caption Bill Bailey brought his musical comedy to Leicester in 1997

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