THE HEADLINE act may have changed but you won’t have to walk 500 miles for great entertainment this weekend as a popular festival kicks off this evening on a Meon Valley farm.

This year’s Wickham Festival promises to be a belter with Fisherman's Friends, The Saw Doctors, Show of Hands and former Ultravox frontman Midge Ure all getting prime slots over the weekend.

There's been a late change to the schedule as Grammy-nominated American blues singer and guitarist Eric Bibb will now be headlining on Saturday as the Proclaimers have been forced to pull out due to illness.

There’s definitely a Scottish feel to this year’s line-up with Gaelic folk-rockers Skerryvore and Peat and Diesel (go see) appearing in succession on Sunday evening.

Peat and Diesel Band
Hebridean folk rockers Peat and Diesel are playing their second Wickham Festival slot and are worth seeing. (Peat and Diesel)

The festival is one of the most family-friendly in the UK and is spread over several fields surrounding Westlands Farm. There are four stages but it’s not all about music as the varied programme includes children’s entertainment, a silent disco, funfair and late night comedy.

Revellers who discover their inner musician will also get a warm welcome in The Magic Teapot with impromptu performances in the acoustic, fireside venue being encouraged.

Organisers will be hard pressed to top last year’s festival as the sun-kissed event boasted a line-up including The Levellers, Undertones, 10cc and Waterboys among others.

Saw Doctors Wickham
The Saw Doctors, seen here performing at last year's festival, are also returning, (Dan Striking Faces)

And while the focus is slightly on folk there’s always a few eyebrow-raisers with The Zombies and Afro Celt Sound System being cases in point on Sunday.

The fun begins at 5pm today (Thursday).

A range of packages are available but early bird weekend tickets are £220 with camping places available from £35. Day tickets start at £65 for adults with reductions available for carers. For more details visit