Fifty children gathered on the steps of the town hall to launch the annual Marlborough Literature Festival.

The festival, which will run until Sunday, October 1, is a celebration of literature featuring author talks, bookbinding, debates and children's trails.

Pupils from Marlborough St Mary’s Primary School opened this year's event performing Lost Boy by Ruth B and How Far I’ll Go from the Moana soundtrack.

They were joined by famous actor Sir Simon Russell Beale, who is Marlborough Literature Festival’s patron, as well as locals and proud parents who watched on from the High Street.

“We have approximately 50 children here today, from a mix of Year 4 and Year 5 classes,” said Mrs Naomi Bathurst, a Year 4 teacher at the school.

“They have been learning and practising for this since the start of term.

“We chose to sing Lost Boy by Ruth B as it’s got a strong link to children’s literature and Peter Pan specifically. It was also nice because a lot of the children already knew and really liked the song.

“We also chose to do How Far I’ll Go from Moana because our topic this term is ‘window around the world’, plus who doesn’t love a Disney song,” she added.

Swindon Advertiser: Sir Simon Russell Beale pictured with the children of Marlborough St Mary's.Sir Simon Russell Beale pictured with the children of Marlborough St Mary's. (Image: Marlborough Literature Festival)

Sir Simon, who joined the children on the steps of the Town Hall, became Marlborough LitFest's first patron in 2020.

The critically-acclaimed actor of stage and screen, who was knighted in October 2019, now lives locally and has visited the festival a number of times.

“I’ve watched from the outside as the Marlborough LitFest has grown over the past 14 years into the vibrant event it is today,” he said.

“I’m very pleased to be involved with this gem of a local festival in the heart of Wiltshire which attracts internationally renowned authors.

“Everyone involved is a volunteer and they’ve produced this extraordinary event,” he added.

Sir Russell Beale is best known for his career at the Royal Shakespeare Company and National Theatre, making him the perfect patron for the literature festival.

Genevieve Clarke, chair of the festival, was also at the opening event, and has said she is very hopeful for this year’s festival.

She said: “We have over 40 events and several sold out already, and we are so pleased to get more businesses involved this year too. It’s a festival for the town and beyond.

You can find our rundown of the weekend highlights here, as well as more information on the LitFest website.