UKULELES in the market place, an art show in the library and a party at the museum: this town's annual summer celebration of its talented residents began in the usual spectacular style.

Wantage Summer Festival began at the weekend is now set to continue for the next four weeks with live music, live comedy, the now-annual Wantage Ghost Walk and the Pirates of Penzance.

But before all that, this year's festival also encompasses Wantage's Armed Forces Day celebrations this Sunday.

The town-wide party from midday to 8pm will feature family fun in the Market Place with food and drink, military displays and re-enactments, military vehicles past and present, a gaming tent, inflatables and live music.

At the same time, the new owners of Umami Delicatessen on Newbury Street will hold a free craft fair from local jewellers, artists and cake makers, including a barbecue and cake stall.

Sunday will also see the instrumental championships of this year's Wantage Music Festival at Challow Park Hall in Challow Road, where woodwind and brass players will compete against each other with virtuoso performances.

The music festival's closing concert will be held at Challow Park the following night.

The following week will see a three-day exhibition of paintings and sculptures at Letcombe Regis's Greyhound Inn and a group of am-drammers from the village stage a performance of Gilbert and Sullivan's Pirates of Penzance at Wantage Methodist Church.

Comedians John Robins and Ivo Graham will give a preview performance of their Edinburgh Fringe Festival show at The Beacon in Wantage on Friday, June 30, followed by a folk-rock ceilidh in the Market Place the next morning.

A Tom Jones tribute act, a book quiz, the Wantage Silver Band summer concert and a second Wantage Lego Expo at the Vale and Downland Museum all follow in the coming weeks.

This year's month-long party is the second after the festival was rescued from closure and rebooted.

The festival, which had previously attracted thousands of visitors over two decades, looked on rocky ground in 2015 when chairwoman Julia Reynolds stepped down and no one stood to take her place.

But, at what could have been the festival’s final AGM on April 30 that year, local arts lovers Linda Baines and Sylwia Korsak stepped up to take the reins.

The festival did not take place that year but was reborn last year, bigger and better than ever.

See the full programme for this year's festival online at