SERS of this year's Ledbury Poetry Festival are promising one of the most experimental festivals to date, but also one that will be fun and accessible.

And brisk ticket sales so far seem to indicate that the general public has given a big nod to the programme, which has over 80 events.

Festival manager, Victoria Patch said: "The sales are really good, - at last year's levels at the moment, and that was our best ever, in terms of sales.

"What do I hope for this year's festival? I hope the sun shines. There's no theme this year, but a lot of mixing things up, in how people experience poetry.

"You could say it is one of our most experimental festivals, but it has very good poetry as well; it is very accessible, and I think everyone will enjoy it."

The ten day celebration of the written word starts this Friday, July 4, and for a while Ledbury becomes a place where famous faces are not so unusual.

Among those famous faces will the that of Clare Short who, on Sunday, July 6, will offer up her Desert Island Poems in the Community Hall, from 2pm,

Clare Short was MP for Birmingham

Ladywood for 27 years and Secretary of State

for International Development. In 2003, she famously

resigned from the Government over the Iraq War.

Actress Juliet Stevenson will feature in several events at celebration of Helen Thomas, at Hellens Manor, on July 5 and on July 6, at 6pm in the Community Hall, when she will read Elizabeth Bishop, one of great American voices of the last century.

Also on Sunday, July 6 modernity comes to Ledbury with Baddaboom Tee, who will be leading a free beatboxing workshop on the Baptist Church Hall.

Ian McMillan's voice is also projected widely, as the presenter of The Verb on BBC Radio 3.

On Tuesday, July 8, from 8pm, he will be "Taking Myself Home" with a mix of verse, northern wit and anecdotes.

This year is the 100th anniversary of the birth of Dylan Thomas, and "The Shadow of His Hand" will celebrate this, on July 12, from 12.45pm.

Four Welsh poets will share their favourite Dylan Thomas words, including broadcaster Own Sheers, who will also read some of his own words, alongside Paul Henry, Stephen Knight

and Oliver Reynolds.

A crowd-pleasing touch arrives with The Ledbury Celebration on Sunday July 13 This finale to the Ledbury Poetry Festival takes place between 11am and 7pm in Bye Street car park and the adjacent Orme & Slade’s car park just behind Ledbury High Street. Entry is free and so is the parking.

The Ledbury Food Group says it has been "inundated" with applications to have a stall at what started as a simple food and drink festival.

Over 30 stalls will be selling local food and drink.,

And poets and musicians from the area will be out in force to entertain people as they browse, taste and buy.