PUSSY Riot, Hugh Grant, Badly Drawn Boy and John Cleese are some of the biggest names headlining the second Byline Festival in Sussex this month.

The anarcho-punk campaigning collective, whose members disrupted the FIFA World Cup final between Croatia and France at the this year’s World Cup in Moscow, will be performing at the festival billed as “a riot of independent journalism”, which is taking place at Pippingford Park in the Ashdown Forest, near Nutley, over the weekend of August 24-27.

Led by Nadya Tolokonnikova, Pussy Riot, which has 12 members and was formed in 2011 to stage protests over feminism LGBT rights and against Russia’s president Vladimir Putin, will top the music bill.

“We are expecting them to be brilliant, badly behaved and riotous,” said the festival’s organisers.

The group will perform alongside 120 music acts including indie singer-songwriter Badly Drawn Boy, New Wave pop groups The Blow Monkeys and The Vapors, radio and TV presenter DJ Nihal,  Rhoda Dakar, lead singer of The Bodysnatchers, singer-songwriter Tom Hingley, frontman of The Inspiral Carpets, and all-female garage punk band The Priscillas.

With its unique mix of intellect and spontaneity and the tagline ‘dance, discuss, laugh and change the world’, the Byline Festival aims to recapture the spirit of past festivals such as Woodstock to help change attitudes of the world.

Its list of speakers includes football pundit Gary Lineker, BAFTA-winning actor Hugh Grant, the star of movies such as Four Weddings and A Funeral and Notting Hill who played Jeremy Thorpe in the BBC’s recent miniseries A Very English Scandal and was a victim of the newspaper phone hacking scandal, and Monty Python and Fawlty Towers star John Cleese.

Other speakers and performers include lawyer and politician Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, TV presenter June Sarpong, actor and comedian Sanjeev Bhaskar, investigative journalists Carole Cadwalladr and Nick Davies, leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable, former war reporter and former politician Martin Bell, UK activist Lauri Love, writer and broadcaster Bonnie Greer, comedian, actor and author Alexei Sayle, Chichester-based novelist Kate Mosse, writer A L Kennedy, radio and television presenter Hardeep Singh Kohli, actor Joanna Scanlan and  comedian, television director and screenwriter Andy Hamilton.

More than 3,000 people attended the first Byline Festival last year, says festival co-director Stephen Colegrave, who founded it with Peter Jukes. “We founded it because people were interested in what journalists and newspapers were doing,” he says. “It was just after Trump had become president and it was all a bit strange and we got a bunch of journalists, writers and politicians to come to the festival.

“And we felt that people were getting a bit fed up with music festivals so we wanted to do something a bit different. We wanted to combine talks and workshops about serious issues with comedy, music, spoken word and theatre, but all with a bit of attitude. The appeal of Byline is that it is a different type of festival and people who come have contact with different types of people. The speakers like coming along to talk about whatever they want to talk about without a camera angled at them.”

At the opening evening show in the Big Top Tent, where a circus from New Orleans will perform, the Brighton-based Jam Tarts Indie Choir will appear.

The 60-strong indie choral collective performs unique arrangements of songs indie, punk and New Wave artists such as The Smiths, Nick Cave, P J Harvey, Bat for Lashes, Tom Waits and Joy Division.

Flautist Li Miller, the choir’s director and arranger, says, “Indie songs are the sort of music I love and we have gone for songs that are literary or known for songwriting literacism.

“The choir members are good amateurs, a diverse group of people including a magistrate, an eye surgeon, a funeral celebrant and university lecturers.

“There are other choirs who are willing to experiment but our arrangements are unusual. What Nouvelle Vague do with bossa nova and the Ukulele Orchestra do with, well, ukuleles, Jam Tarts Choir do with four (or five or event eight) part harmonies, 60 pairs of mighty lungs and six degrees of celebration.”

Part of The Other Bit at Byline, a section for the ‘young and young-at-heart’, will be the Trumpton Village Fete, a post-Brexit 1950s village created by Brighton author, illustrator, publisher and satirist Mike Dicks.

It features characters such as Reverend May and her Brexit Bunch, including David Dealin’ Davis and Boris ‘Captain Brexit’ Johnson, with Vladimir Putin as a gangster and Nigel Farage as a second-hand garage salesman.

“Four years ago, I took objection to Nigel Farage before anyone else did,” says Mike. “He was being built up as a possible prime minister so I did a couple of jokes about him online.”

Earlier this year he launched a Brexit comic, a tongue in cheek look at the country’s decision to leave the EU. It’s loosely based on Trumpton, the children’s TV programme from the 1960s and a name begging to be connected to the name of the American president.

“I thought, I’m going to own that bit of Britain so UKIP can’t,” Mike says.

The author of the book Mr Trump Goes To Washington, Mike has set up the Trumpton Village Fete specially for the Byline Festival, a traditional village fete with pub singers, knobbly knees competitions and a troupe of 12 actors acting out segments from the Trumpton era.

“It’s a traditional village fete with a twist, with a mixture of bands and comedians, debate and workshops, as well as funny vegetable contests and a father/daughter beauty pageant,” says Mike. “It’s the first time I’ve done anything like this.”

The Byline Festival has seven venues, with three big talk tents, where leading journalists, politicians, experts and activists from around the world will be tackling todays big issues.

There will be more than 100 workshop sessions offering the chance to learn stand-up comedy, write an e-Book and a protest poem, create a podcast, improve creative writing skills, make protest banners or take part in yoga and mindfulness classes.

The Other Bit at Byline includes Rap Battles, live Urban Art sessions and global DJs. Open-mic sessions are encouraged on top of an old Routemaster bus. There’s a campfire of vanities, and the forest fringe includes the Idler tent and the Byline Cocktail bar.

Among the activities for families are The House of Fairy Tales, which is bringing its kids’ Media Planet Adventure and News Room to the festival, with daily shows created by kids for their parents. Outdoor activities include rock climbing with experienced instructors and wide games in the forest run by the Festival Games Master.

The Woodland Spa will provide a range of spa treatments including hot stone massages, reflexology and deep tissue massages led by a team of fully qualified local therapists. A wander through to The Gallery in the Trees will reveal photojournalism hanging from branches of trees in the middle of the forest.

Londons legendary media Frontline Club will recreate its famous bar on-site at Byline Festival.

Visit bylinefestival.com.

Above: Pussy Riot

Below: Hugh Grant with Ben Whishaw in A Very English Scandal/ picture: BBC/ Blueprint/ Amazon/Sony

Above: Badly Drawn Boy

Below: John Cleese

Above: Kate Mosse/picture: Ruth Crafer

Below: Joanna Scanlan 

Above: Andy Hamilton/picture: Steve Ullathorne

Below: Jam Tarts Choir

Above: Trumpton Village Fete by Mike Dicks

Below: artwork for the Byline Festival by Brighton-based artist Lois O’Hara

Above: Brighton-based artist Lois O’Hara, who has created artwork for the Byline Festival, at work in her studio 

Below: scenes from last year’s festival