WITH acts spanning more than half a century, featuring chart-topping pop acts, legendary performers and new artists, Blenheim Palace’s Nocturne Festival pulled in a record number of fans for four extraordinary days of music.

Headline sets by the ‘Empress of soul’ Gladys Knight, hip-hop star Lauryn Hill, synth-pop band Tears for Fears and pop survivor Kylie Minogue brought in its biggest crowds ever, with 35,000 people coming through the grand gates of the stately home from Thursday to Sunday.

Highlights included a high-energy dance party featuring Kathy Sledge of Sister Sledge & the Disco Classical project, culminating in a firework display, on the Thursday, and a punchy set of tunes from iconic hip-hop and soul album The Mideseducation of Lauryn Hill on Friday – Ms Hill keeping fans waiting for almost an hour before coming on stage to a rapturous response from patient admirers.

Tears for Fears delighted fans with a tuneful set of electro-pop featuring hits Mad World, Shout and Everybody Wants to Rule the World on Saturday, while the festival was brought to a spectacular finale by Kylie on Sunday. The Australian singer, joined by athletic dancers, performed a career-spanning set featuring early hits I Should be So Lucky and Loco-Motion, through to anthems Confide in Me and Can’t Get You Out of My Head and ending with a rousing encore of Dancing and Spinning Around – which had the whole audience singing and clapping along.

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Support came from a glamorous Sophie Ellis-Bextor, who got the crowd in the mood with hits Groovejet, Take Me Home and a sing-along to Murder on the Dancefloor. She joked that Winston Churchill, who was famously born at the palace, had himself ordered the installation of the palace’s large disco ball which hung above the stage.

Audiences watched the shows from rows of seats in the palace’s Great Court, but took to their feet for the headline sets. They were blessed with fine weather, with even Sunday’s forecast downpours failing to materialise.

Read more: Kathy Sledge is lost in music for Nocturne festival

Nocturne founder and director Ciro Romano said: “This year’s event was a resounding success on so many levels.

“We presented a really diverse bill, with each night offering a totally unique line-up of world class acts and we welcomed more people than ever through the gates.

“The grounds of Blenheim Palace offer a truly outstanding setting for live music and we look forward to announcing our first acts for 2020 in the coming months.”

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Among the country’s premier outdoor concert series, Nocturne Live launched in 2015 and has presented shows from Elton John, The Jacksons, Gary Barlow, Ennio Morricone, Noel Gallagher, Nile Rodgers & Chic, Elvis Costello and Van Morrison.

Coming the weekend before Glastonbury, many artists use it as an opportunity to hone their live shows before heading to Worthy Farm.

Kylie and Lauryn Hill, will both be playing the Somerset festival this weekend.

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