MALPAS will come alive today as the hotly anticipated arts and literature festival kicks off – with villagers hoping it will boost business and community spirit.

The festival, which will play host to a number of big names in music, theatre and literature, will take place at a variety of locations around the village, including St Oswald’s Church and the small hamlet of Hampton.

Festival organisers have been working for months to ensure the event goes off with a bang, and the majority of the community are getting involved in any way they can.

Richard Lever, landlord of The Red Lion Hotel – the venue for some of the weekend’s live performances – said that community spirit in the village is in ‘full force’.

He added: “This is great for the community, it’s something new and I think it’s fantastic.

“Everyone seems to be getting involved with some aspect of the festival from the feedback I’ve had from some of my locals. As long as the community enjoy themselves this weekend, that’s the most important thing.”

Chris Blackhurst, vice chairman of Malpas Parish Council said: “The Malfest is a great opportunity for the village, we are now starting to use our best asset – connecting the community with the church.”

He added: “I personally am hoping it’s going to be enough of a huge success to become an annual festival.

“The Parish Council has supported Malfest from the very beginning, and the general feeling is that this is a very positive thing for the village.”

John Oakden, festival director said: “What is very apparent to me is that everyone we speak to is eager to chip in and help in any way they can to bring it all together.

“We’ve had a fantastic reaction and it’s the talking point everywhere in Malpas.

He added: “We absolutely can’t wait, I’m so excited I can barely sleep!

“It’s such a little village that has been forgotten about for so long that you can feel the excitement in the air.”