THE Nordic lands of the midnight sun will be celebrated at this year’s Ageas Salisbury International Arts Festival.

The full 16-day programme was announced at Salisbury Arts Centre on Monday, when Ageas also confirmed its commitment to sponsor the festival for at least the next three years.

The festival, running from May 23 to June 7, will explore the tensions between light and dark, city and nature, and land and sea in a region of contrasts where the endless darkness of winter gives way to a summer of constant daylight.

Some of the finest artists from the Nordic region will bring poetry, music, dance, photography, film and folk to the festival, described by organisers as “beautiful, expressive and quirky”.

Voices From No Man’s Land, a special installation including more than 100 male voices in Salisbury Cathedral’s Cloisters, will open the programme, marking the centenary of the Christmas truce of the First World War. The opening Saturday of the festival, Close Encounters, will see a host of free events in the Cathedral Close, including outdoor street theatre, art and sporting activities for children, and a fireworks finale.

The following day will see a new free event, City Encounters, featuring street theatre, circus and dance around the city, and more than 80 food stalls in an international market.

Salisbury Live is also taking place, with live music in pubs and other venues across the city over the opening weekend as well as on May 30 and 31.

There will be lots of family events throughout the festival, including Illyria, returning with a performance of Roald Dahl’s George’s Marvellous Medicine, storytelling from local children’s author Kristina Stephenson, and a disco for under fives.

The 2014 literature programme boasts Kate Adie, Barry Norman, Rachel Joyce and Peter Snow, offering a variety of topics for discussion and debate. Icelandic poet and author Gerdur Kristny will be giving live poetry readings inspired by the literature of her homeland.

Musical offerings will include The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, energetic Romanian troupe Taraf de Haïdouks, and Terje Isungset, an artist from Norway who plays musical instruments hand-carved out of ice.

Dance and circus performances include the Iceland Dance Company performing a triple bill of works by Scandinavian choreographers, and Sharon Eyal from Israel.

Rime, a new show from Square Peg Contemporary Circus, combines circus with theatre and dance to tell The Rime of the Ancient Mariner set to a Nordic-inspired sound track.

And there is a diverse film programme featuring a Nordic Noir Night of Jar City, Insomnia and Hour of the Lynx, the new film starring Sofie Gråbøl of The Killing.

Stand-up Miles Jupp is headlining this year’s comedy events, which include Mark Steel’s evening of comedy about the quirks of Salisbury, the Reduced Shakespeare Company, and Luke Wright’s Essex Lion.

Radio 4 favourite Alex Horne and the Horne Section are performing, and cultures collide in Luke Kempnew’s The Only Way Is Downton. Booking for the general public opens on Tuesday.

Visit for the full programme or call the box office on 0845 241 9651.