Free opera and pop pulls in crowds

Every ticket was taken for two free music festivals at Temple Newsam, Leeds, over the weekend.

Opera in the Park, on Saturday, drew 50,000 people to see and hear soprano Natasha Marsh and tenor Alfie Boe, with the Hall Orchestra and the Leeds Festival Chorus.

Another 80,000 turned up yesterday, for chart-toppers Dizzee Rascal, Alesha Dixon, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Beverley Knight, Calvin Harris, Pixie Lott, Little Boots, JLS, N-Dubz, DJ Ironik and Booty Luv.

Both events were hit by showers but delivered their full programmes – except for a scheduled turn by the Sugababes yesterday which was cancelled because two of them were down with flu.

Leeds Council organised the events in collaboration with Magic 828 for the opera and Radio Aire for the poppier event – and now turns its attention to Big City Jazz at various venues August 21-23. See

John Procter, the council executive member for leisure, said: "It gives us great pride as a council to be able to put on events of this scale for everyone to enjoy for free."