Suffolk’s best festival* Primadonna today announces the first names on its 2022 line-up, with singer La Roux sharing top billing with authors Erin Kelly, Cathy Retzenbrink and Juno Dawson, activist Shola Mos Shogbamimu, influencers Natalie Lee and Alex Light and podcaster Viv Groskop.

They will join the ‘Primadonnas’, the group of women working across the arts who founded the festival – including Sandi Toksvig, Kit de Waal, Catherine Mayer and Jude Kelly – at the Food Museum in Stowmarket from 29-31 July.

Primadonna is an all-ages weekend of books, ideas and inspiration offering something for everyone: film, music, comedy, food and therapies, mixing famous names with emerging talent and offering a specific strand of programming for writers and aspiring writers.

Highlights of this year’s programme include:

  • International superstar musician La Roux (Elly Jackson) in conversation with friend and international superstar writer Catherine Mayer in the must-see session ‘Been there, done that, messed around’. This will cover Elly’s career highlights, life in the paparazzi lens, and the problems of being a ‘figurehead’ in a world that refuses nuance. Together, they’ll think about the pros and cons of the content-obsessed world we live in, and Catherine will share some of her insider tips on getting out the story you want to tell… not the one the tabloids want you to sell.

  • Author and Broadcaster Symeon Brown hosting a discussion on influencer culture with Alex Light (457k followers on Instagram) and influencers Natalie Lee aka StyleMeSunday (111k followers, and a new book ‘Feeling Myself’ out on 9 June)
  • Viv Groskop recording an episode of her award-winning How To Own The Room podcast live at the festival
  • Sunday Times’ million copy bestseller Erin Kelly, author of eight thrillers, offering insider know-how on ‘How To Write A Killer Novel’
  • Author and Features Director of Red magazine Natasha Lunn leading some Conversations on Love, the title of her recent book and the focus of a panel on alternative happy endings… including divorce!
  • Juno Dawson and Zoe Howe exploring the phenomenon of witchcraft, the power of the witch figure and the legacy of the witch trials on contemporary culture and iconography
  • Patsy Stevenson, whose face became the defining image of the Sarah Everard vigil in 2021, in discussion with activist and commentator Shola Mos-Shogbamimu on the scandals enveloping the Metropolitan police as well as the growing scrutiny of the monarchy in light of Megxit, Prince Andrew’s conduct and the Queen’s Jubilee year. Is it time for these state institutions to be dismantled for good? What would the UK look like as a republic? Would defunding the police work? And are we ready for a revolution?

Festival director Catherine Riley said: ‘We’ve set up some challenging, provocative and hilarious sessions this year which we know will create the buzz and excitement that Primadonna is known for. There are some amazing names on our line-up already, but we’re not finished programming yet. Expect some big announcements in the coming weeks as we bring even more fantastic talent to Suffolk for what we call ‘the world as it should be, for one weekend’.’

As well as the main programme of talks, interviews and discussions, there will be plenty on offer for adults looking to unwind and get away from it all, with chef demonstrations, live music, late night DJs and pop-up fun including a Time Machine Disco, steam engine rides and wellness therapies of all kinds.

‘We’ll also have an ‘Introducing’ session at the John Peel Centre in town on Friday night featuring the best up-and-coming local bands, and a programme of films running at the Regal as well as tons of stuff for kids, including a ‘Festival of the Girl’ workshop, author readings, films, theatre and crafts,’ said Riley. ‘It really is a perfect weekend for getting away from it all: and we also guarantee the best festival toilets around!’

*As voted by the East Anglian Festival Network.