A NEW comedy festival is coming to a number of venues across the New Forest for three weeks. 

The first-ever New Forest Comedy Festival will take place between May 27 until June 17.

Comedians announced include Richard Herring, Jen Brister, Tom Ward and Tony Law.

Ivo Graham, Paul Foot, Alison Spittle, Tom Houghton and Jack Skipper will also feature.

The new event will take place across several local venues.

Venues include Forest Forge Theatre in Ringwood, New Forest Arts in New Milton, Hanger Farm Theatre in Totton, The Attic in Totton, Vibrant Brewery in Hartley and Fawley Royal British Legion.

The idea of the comedy festival came from Chris Grayston, the owner of The Attic River Studios in Totton.

He said: “There is definitely a need for more comedy in the area, and the idea of a festival for the New Forest was to really make an impact.

"Together, as a group of local venues, we can make an impact and get the New Forest community laughing.”

Meanwhile, for budding comedians, the festival is running a New Forest comedian of the year competition in partnership with the Museum of Comedy and Leicester Square Comedy Club, which includes a range of heats, culminating in a final show and £500 prize for the winning comedian, £250 for the runner up.

The competition will be structured to include a range of heats, culminating in the final.

Alongside the line-up of comedians, the festival is offering a wide variety of interactive workshops and events for all ages in a bid to engage and entertain the New Forest community.

This is also a great opportunity for new and aspiring comedians to put their skills and jokes on display for an audience.

Research conducted for Culture in Common by the audience development agency Flying Geese showed varying levels of attendance at comedy events across New Forest.

Programme director at Culture in Common, Jacqui Ibbotson, said: “Research shows us that there is an increase in people in their 20s and 30s in the New Forest and that they have a thirst for comedy, but a lack of regular comedy events close to home.”

For more information and to book tickets for the comedy nights, workshops, events, visit newforestcomedyfestival.com.