THE award-winning Highlights Rural Touring Scheme has announced its programme for the rest of 2018, bringing more contemporary and interesting live performances to the region.

Venues will once again include small venues and village halls, as far afield as Arnside, Burgh by Sands, Grizebeck and Kirkby Stephen, as well as a full programme in Durham and Northumberland.

Highlights swept the board at this year's National Rural Touring Awards, winning three out of a possible six awards, seeing off competition from across the UK.

The awards recognise the work by promoters, volunteers, touring schemes, artists and companies.

Picks in the programme include critically-acclaimed theatre performances by some of the UK's best-known companies.

Tom Thumb, by Lyngo Theatre, is one particular event that stands out, where Cbeebies' Patrick Lynch, brings this classic story to life in a playful and fascinating show at the Old Fire Station in Carlisle.

There is also a return to the county for Northern Stage with their successful production of The War of the Worlds, which heads to Burgh by Sands Parish Hall, and regular visitors Box Tale Soup, who perform The Picture of Dorian Gray at venues in Alston and Kirkby Stephen.

Mata Hari is a one-woman solo show performed by Katherine Mary exploring the life, and death, of the world’s most notorious female spy - and it comes to Soulby later in the year.

Also among the theatrical shows to look forward to are: Theatre Hullabaloo's children's show Luna; Garlic Theatre's family-friendly Jack & The Beans Talk; Toronto’s critically-acclaimed solo performer, Rebecca Perry, presenting Confessions of a Red Headed Coffee Shop Girl; and festive shows Christmas Cabaret and A Christmas Carol, which visit venues around the region.

Musical performers come from all over the UK, with some of the nation's top folk acts and instrumentalists set to visit.

Emma Fisk and James Birkett present an entertaining, virtuosic and informative programme of music associated with and inspired by the first great jazz violin and guitar partnership Joe Venuti and Eddie Lang, the Italian-American duo who played hot violin and guitar jazz in the 1920s and 30s until cut short by Lang’s untimely death in 1933.

Louise Jordan, who has played her originals in Cumbria on a number of occasions, this time presents No Petticoats Here - telling the stories of remarkable women of the First World War through song. Katie Doherty and The Navigators are also ones to watch, with award-winners among the band's members.

Jaywalkers are back in the county, visiting four venues with their eclectic folk, bluegrass, country and western swing show, and comedic string quartet Bowjangles return with their most magical show so far- a theatrical, musical journey through myths, folklore and legends in Excalibow.

Alongside the live performances, contemporary craft tour Craft & Conflict will be touring around the region.

For a full list of all the shows and dates, as well as links to buy tickets, visit www.highlightsnorth.co.uk