THE BEST OF 97

FESTIVALS

"Oh is this the way they say the future's meant to feel or just 20,000 people standing in a field?" sang Pulp as they surveyed Glastonbury festival (left) from the stage in 1995, and the next year it was gone. It wasn't just Jarvis's scepticism that made the festival disappear (unhappy campers had been moaning about commercialism for years), more the exhaustion of villagers who wanted a break from the Es and whizz. So, 1996 was a fallow year at Pilton farm and a yawning void in the 1996 crustie calendar but, dread-lock up your daughters, and face-paint your sons because the biggest music event in Britain is back in June this year. Prodigy are tipped to top the bill, along with more than 100,000 people.

BOOKS

Surprised by the omission of Mick Jackson's The Underground Man from the short-list, editorial staff at Picador are now backing John Lanchester's louche, literary feast The Debt to Pleasure for this month's Whitbread First Novel Award. Other contenders include Georgina Hammick's The Arizona Game, Seamus Deane's Reading in the Dark and Mary Morrissey's Mother of Pearl.

FILM

One of the fastest comedies ever made is re-released next month. The 1940 His Girl Friday (left), stars Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell and Ralph Bellamy, and kicks off a season of Howard Hawks movies at the National Film Theatre. Other classic screenings include The Big Sleep, Scarface, Only Angels Have Wings and Bringin' Up Baby.

George Lucas's SFX empire, Industrial Light and Magic, strikes back in March with the big screen return of the Star Wars Trilogy. Models and effects have been lovingly re-touched and buffs will be excited by a previously unseen meeting between Solo and Jabba the Hut. This year you'll also find at a cinema near you: The Lost World, mammoth follow-up to Jurassic Park; the 18th Bond movie, tentatively entitled Avitar; The English Patient, a frilly costume drama starring Willem Dafoe, Colin Firth and Juliette Binoche; and the latest in Woody Allen's fearsomely autobiographical career: a film about child abuse not so tentatively named An Error of Judgement.

DANCE

In February, the Royal Ballet performs a company premiere of Twyla Tharp's Push Come to Shove, with the role created for Mikhail Baryshnikov danced by Tetsuya Kumakawa. March sees Igor Zelensky partnering Darcey Bussell in La Bayadere and Romeo and Juliet, while the Kirov returns to Britain in the summer with a programme which includes the curious Fountain of Bakhshisarai. A programme of one-act works from the Ballet Russe repertoire is also promised.

THEATRE

Following his triumphant Guys and Dolls, Richard Eyre will mark the end of his time as top dog at the National Theatre this year by directing new works by David Hare and Tom Stoppard. Amy's View is scheduled for June, while Stoppard's play, about AE Housman, is due in September. Should Stoppard deliver late, however, Eyre will return to direct, which would lead to the odd scenario of Trevor Nunn's new regime kicking off with a production from the old one.

CLASSICAL

Composer Gavin Bryars will be staging his first full opera at the London Coliseum in June. The man who founded an orchestra which couldn't play (The Portsmouth Sinfonia) and staged a knock-out version of Medea with pioneering director and installation artist Robert Wilson, promises a work called Doctor Ox's Experiment, inspired by the work of Jules Verne. Directed by David Pountney, the opera will have a libretto by poet Blake Morrison. Less happily, this is set to be the year in which the Royal Opera vacates Covent Garden, with no clear idea of where it's going ...

POP

Betting has already started on how many number one singles the new Oasis album will bag. Still being recorded, the record will be released by Creation in the late summer - if the brothers (above) don't split and Liam can still play guitar with his fingers permanently prised into a V-sign, that is. Meanwhile, if you really, really want a New Year banker, it's that the Spice Girls will continue to put the boy bands in the shade in 1997, with a tour later in the year. Elsewhere, Suede set off on tour later this month, while in February, there are new albums by Blur and Ocean Colour Scene.

VISUAL ART

One hundred years after the Prince of Wales cut the official ribbon on the Tate Gallery, London's riverside art house celebrates its centenary by digging up a diverse bunch of masterpieces from its extensive collection. March sees the start of a major Hogarth exhibition, showing, among other things, the newly restored Self Portrait with Pug (left), and from May, everything from Stubbs and Gainsborough to Matisse and Pollock will be climbing the walls. Other big birthday events include an exhibition of Rossetti, Burne-Jones and the Symbolists, and a series of Promenade evenings and a family day on 21 July.

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