MUSIC and poetry are going hand-in-hand as excitement builds for a big regional festival.

An acclaimed poet, a Bolton bands and rising stars from around the UK have helped launch Head for the Hills.

In a warm-up for the September event, originally known as the Ramsbottom Festival, Tony Walsh surprised audiences by taking to the stage amid the music.

The Prestwich poet took the opportunity to record a special commission poem for the festival which boasts a line-up of Maximo Park, Beth Orton, The Stranglers, Dutch Uncles, Neville Staple Band and Alexis Taylor from Hot Chip.

Widely known as Longfella, he has penned a typically rousing piece as an ode to the annual three-day music, arts and culture event in Ramsbottom.

Mr Walsh, who will also be performing at the festival, said: “I’m really excited to be working alongside Head for the Hills.

“At the festival itself there’ll be shouting along, smiles and a tear in a few eyes. The poem tries to capture those special moments that only happen at festivals.”

The poet, aged 51, recorded Head for the Hills in the exclusive performance at The Met on Saturday.

Made up of eight verses, after the end of each one the audience had to shout “Head for the Hills”.

After a warm-up reading, the second one was recorded live.

It follows an emotional reading of his poem This Is the Place, an ode to the city of Manchester and its people, at the vigil to remember the victims of the city’s terror attack.

The Met’s artistic director, David Agnew, added: “It is amazing to have Tony on board with Head for the Hills and an absolute honour to have him write a poem especially for the festival.

“The poem captures all the experience and moments audiences have at the festival and it will be a special moment for everyone who sees him perform it in person.”

The Derby Hall gig on Saturday night was also an opportunity to celebrate the best up and coming bands from around the UK.

The line-up included Bolton’s own alternative indie rockers Dear CAROLINE alongside Pontefract four piece Glass Caves, SKIES from Kent, and brand new Manchester band Laurel Canyon.

Head for the Hills will return for its seventh year, taking place from September 15 to 17.

Following last year’s record attendance of over 12,000, the festival is proving more popular than ever and after a quick sell-out on the Early Birds and the first wave of tickets, the next wave arrived at the start of July. Prices are £29 for a day ticket and £72 for a weekend ticket, with discounts for children and families, while youngsters under the age of six go free.