THE Grand Tour and Top Gear star James May will join a star-studded line-up including comedian Al Murray and presenter Michael Palin at this year's Chalke History Festival.

Organisers of the popular Chalke History Festival promise that this year's festival will be "the biggest and best one yet, with a diverse range of activities and experiences that will appeal to both history buffs and casual visitors alike."

In a year that marks the 80th anniversary of D-Day, organisers aim to bring together "the most passionate minds in academic historical investigation and debate."

Salisbury Journal:

Among those passionate minds are some household names, including co-presenter of The Grand Tour, James May, who will make his debut at the festival this summer to speak about his favourite subject, cars.

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Alongside Captain Slow are the creators of two of the UK’s most successful podcasts, who will record in front of a live audience.

Tom Holland and Dominic Sandbrook will be bringing 'The Rest is History' - the most downloaded history podcast in the world - to Church Bottom, while Second World War aficionados James Holland and Al Murray will host an episode of their incredibly popular 'We Have Ways of Making You Talk' podcast.

Salisbury Journal: James MayJames May (Image: Chalke History Festival.)

Readers can also expect to see the award-winning historian and broadcaster Bettany Hughes, who will be returning to talk about the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and, also appearing for the first time, will be the legendary writer, actor, comedian and TV presenter: Michael Palin.

Michael will discuss his biography of his great-uncle Harry, whose life was tragically taken in the First World War.

Acclaimed journalist, broadcaster and president of the School of Oriental and African Studies, Zeinab Badawi, will talk about her new book on the history of Africa.

Salisbury Journal: Medieval reenactmentMedieval reenactment (Image: Martin Crook)

Other entertainment will include 'Historic Equitation'.  A team of historical interpreters and equestrians led by renowned horseman, Dominic Sewell will be demonstrating the social, economic and military importance of horses throughout history.

They will be at the festival all week and deliver a "show-stopping" display in the arena on the Saturday and Sunday.

Another new addition is Rattlebox Theatre, which will enchant audiences with puppetry and storytelling every Tuesday to Sunday.

Their adaptation of the Anglo-Saxon epic Beowulf will tell the tale through engaging storytelling, beautifully made puppets, and an evocative live soundtrack from early music maestro Steve Tyler.

Actor and raconteur Adam Schuch-des Forges will also introduce visitors to "the most remarkable officer they’ve never heard of - Major BANGER King", sharing incredible tales of the 2nd Battalion of the East Yorkshire Regiment as they train for D-Day, fight their way into the Norman Countryside, and face countless insurmountable odds.

Early bird weekly tickets - which give a reduced rate if bought for the whole seven days - have just gone on sale.