THE big names who will be speaking at this year's Chalke History Festival have been announced.

Former Top Gear presenter James May is on the list of speakers at the UK's largest history festival which is returning from June 24 to 30.

Other VIP speakers confirmed for 2024’s festival include Alice Loxton, Michael Palin, Kavita Puri, The Alphen Group, Sebastian Faulks, Victoria Vydovychenko, Zeinab Badawi and Jonathan Dimbleby.

This year marks a turning point for the festival as it has undergone a full rebranding, including a new website, and it has dropped the 'valley' from its name.

It will continue to offer its full range of living history, entertainment, historical experiences and performances that regulars have come to expect.

Salisbury Journal: Story tellers at Chalke Valley History Festival in 2022.Story tellers at Chalke Valley History Festival in 2022. (Image: Martin Cook)

A rich and varied living history programme will take visitors through history from the Iron Age to the Second World War.

Around the site, children and adults alike will be treated to live demonstrations and storytelling, while live music will keep the audience entertained late into the evening.  

Returning for the 2024 Festival are two iconic WW2 warbirds – the Spitfire and P-51 Mustang – marking the 80th anniversary of D-Day.

Festival Chair historian James Holland said: “With so much upheaval and change it’s only natural that people should look to the past for answers.  Our programme for 2024 will reflect this, dealing with themes and concerns that dominate our current lives. 

“We’ll be welcoming The Alphen Group to talk about what’s next for the conflict in Ukraine, as well as veterans from previous conflicts. We’re also keen to explore the links between history and our environment, through a series of discussions. 

“These announcements are just the beginning of what is shaping up to be a world-class programme for the 2024 Chalke History Festival.”

Early bird season and general admission tickets will be on sale in February while talk tickets will go on sale in April.

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