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Thursford show dancers get into the festive spirit as rehearsals kick off

PUBLISHED: 15:10 03 October 2017 | UPDATED: 17:38 03 October 2017

Rehearsals have begun for this year's Christmas show at Thursford. Picture: Ian Burt

Rehearsals have begun for this year's Christmas show at Thursford. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant 2017

It started in an old farm shed on a shoestring budget in 1977.

Rehearsals have begun for this year's Christmas show at Thursford. Picture: Ian Burt Rehearsals have begun for this year's Christmas show at Thursford. Picture: Ian Burt

Eight dancers from King’s College, Cambridge, and an organist, performed to a crowd of about 530 people.

Now the Thursford Christmas Spectacular has become arguably the biggest festive show in Europe, attracting as many people as the Glastonbury music festival.

Preparations for this year’s run of shows are now well underway, with dancers arriving in Thursford on Monday.

Organisers announced two extra performances in January after the show’s 40th anniversary year completely sold out in 2016.

Rehearsals have begun for this year's Christmas show at Thursford. Picture: Ian Burt Rehearsals have begun for this year's Christmas show at Thursford. Picture: Ian Burt

The event has a budget of £1.8m and attracts 110,000 visitors from all over the UK to the tiny village, between Fakenham and Holt, every Christmas.

The show will run from November 8 to December 23.

Read more: Thursford Christmas Spectacular 2016: 40 facts to celebrate the 40th show

John Cushing, Thursford’s producer and director, said: “This year we have installed some spectacular new lighting on the stage. We have also invested a lot into our light display outside which will be magical. Our costumes this year have cost over £200,000.”

Rehearsals have begun for this year's Christmas show at Thursford. Picture: Ian Burt Rehearsals have begun for this year's Christmas show at Thursford. Picture: Ian Burt

The show is expected to be record-breaking once again, with 104,000 tickets sold so far.

Mr Cushing added: “It is totally unique, there is no other show in the country like this and that is what makes it so special. People from nearly every county in the UK come to Thursford at Christmas.”

Read more: Video and Photo Gallery: Thursford Christmas Spectacular - the biggest show of its kind

Tracey Iliffe, choreographer for the sixth year, said: “It’s the only place I know who do everything properly. We dot every I, cross every T and go above and beyond.

Rehearsals have begun for this year's Christmas show at Thursford. Picture: Ian Burt Rehearsals have begun for this year's Christmas show at Thursford. Picture: Ian Burt

“I love it all. The large company pieces are always amazing and I’m looking forward to doing the tap again this year.

“One of the girls, Hannah, drove from Hungry on Friday to get here to do this job, that’s pretty committed. Sophie finished a contract two days early and drove from Paris to come here.”

She said: “I start planning the routines in my garden in June. My neighbours have been watching me dance around my garden with a trombone trying to make up patterns.”

Read more: Nearly 100,000 tickets already sold for the Thursford Spectacular

Rehearsals have begun for this year's Christmas show at Thursford. Picture: Ian Burt Rehearsals have begun for this year's Christmas show at Thursford. Picture: Ian Burt

Ticket prices for the Christmas Spectacular range from £31 - £44, and group bookings are available for parties of more than 20 people.

These can be booked over the phone on 01328 878477, or online here.

Rehearsals have begun for this year's Christmas show at Thursford. Picture: Ian Burt Rehearsals have begun for this year's Christmas show at Thursford. Picture: Ian Burt

Rehearsals have begun for this year's Christmas show at Thursford. Picture: Ian Burt Rehearsals have begun for this year's Christmas show at Thursford. Picture: Ian Burt

Rehearsals have begun for this year's Christmas show at Thursford. Pictured is wardrobe assistant Frances Worrell. Picture: Ian Burt Rehearsals have begun for this year's Christmas show at Thursford. Pictured is wardrobe assistant Frances Worrell. Picture: Ian Burt

Dancers rehearsing an Irish dance section, ready for this year's Christmas Spectacular at Thursford. Picture: Ian Burt Dancers rehearsing an Irish dance section, ready for this year's Christmas Spectacular at Thursford. Picture: Ian Burt

Dancers rehearsing an Irish dance section, ready for this year's Christmas Spectacular at Thursford. Picture: Ian Burt Dancers rehearsing an Irish dance section, ready for this year's Christmas Spectacular at Thursford. Picture: Ian Burt

Dancers rehearsing an Irish dance section, ready for this year's Christmas Spectacular at Thursford. Picture: Ian Burt Dancers rehearsing an Irish dance section, ready for this year's Christmas Spectacular at Thursford. Picture: Ian Burt

Irish dance consultant Aaron Lissimore putting the dancers through their paces, ready for this year's Christmas Spectacular at Thursford. Picture: Ian Burt Irish dance consultant Aaron Lissimore putting the dancers through their paces, ready for this year's Christmas Spectacular at Thursford. Picture: Ian Burt

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