Richard Herring is bringing his show Can I Have My Ball Back to Alton Arts Festival on July 10, 2024. In a major coup for the festival, Richard has added Alton to his national tour to coincide with the inaugural festival.

The show tells the tale of how, in 2021, Richard went to his GP to find out why his right testicle seemed to be growing bigger. It turned out that he had testicular cancer and one month later he was lying in hospital waiting to have his murderous gonad removed. Would he survive? (No spoilers!).

For a comedian who had done a whole show on male genitalia and written a book about toxic masculinity (The Problem With Men) this felt like some cruel trick of fate.

In his much-anticipated return to stand-up after six years, Richard answers the question on everyone’s lips: Is a severed gonad in a jar a fitting prize to bring in for Taskmaster?

AAF Street Stories launched at Alton lights switch-on

Visitors to Goldfinch Books during the Christmas lights switch-on in Alton on November 24 were treated to a special making activity, courtesy of Alton Arts Festival. Toby Poolman, festival director and talented artist, designed a Christmas activity with a twist to help children tap into their creativity and the Christmas spirit.

“Children’s Christmas decorations are often cut and paste, and not made to last,” said Toby. “But with a wooden ball, a hand drill, some upholstery pins and a hammer, they were able to make a bauble that will last for many years – and get a taste of some of the skills they might put to use for the festival.”

Toby is referring to the AAF Street Stories competition, an art trail with a twist.

“We’re inviting individuals, streets, community groups and businesses to create three-dimensional sculptures and models based on characters from your favourite books, myths and legends. The plan is to create an art trail across the festival footprint to give our town a real festival feel,” said Toby. 

“We’re planning to run workshops in the spring to help makers across the town get to work on their pieces, and we can’t wait to see what everyone comes up with.”

Toby’s example ‘make’, the popular children’s story character Stick Man, is currently on display in Goldfinch Books (pictured right), so pop along and have a look.

AAF will be announcing more details about the competition in the New Year when a sign-up form will go live on the website. For more information, sign up to the festival mailing list at

More fundraising events planned

Quizzers will be delighted to hear that another AAF quiz is planned for February 23 – so keep your eyes on AAF socials @altonartsfestival to find out more on that. There are also plans for a Taylor Swift-themed FUNdraiser at Goldfinch Books in March (that’s right, folks, Alton Arts Festival is in its fundraising era), plus some classical concerts in the spring.

Festival merch on sale now!

Alton Arts Festival has released a line of merchandise just in time for Christmas. Bringing in the help of local designer Nicola Plumb, the line of tote bags, t-shirts, jumpers and hoodies is currently available via Teemill and will soon be stocked in Goldfinch Books.

“Featuring slogans such as ‘Art is Power’ and ‘Good things are coming’, the AAF merchandise celebrates the positivity of the arts and the festival, enabling people to declare their love for all things creative and local while also making a donation to the festival,” says AAF Chair Annie Lancaster. 

You can access the AAF Teemill store via or direct at The last date for Christmas post is December 20.

When will tickets go on sale?

The golden question! The plan is for tickets for the festival to go on sale in March, but AAF organisers say if they can do it earlier, they will.

“We have a really exciting programme and we can’t wait to share it, but there are a lot of moving parts,” explains Annie. “We’re talking to around 15 venues, and more than 30 artists across our programming strands of music, literature, comedy, theatre and art – some on a big scale, some smaller. As soon as everything is locked down, we’ll open up ticket sales. It really is a question of ‘watch this space’.”