The theme of this year’s St Albans Festival is celebrating rights and freedoms. The opening weekend – Friday 11 to Sunday 13 June – commemorates the city’s role in the drafting of Magna Carta; the first of the meetings which culminated in the charter’s presentation to King John at Runneymede in 1215 took place in St Albans. Special lecturers include Lord Bingham and Dan Snow. There are also commemorative exhibitions and a concert.

Another great challenger of authority was the 18th radical Thomas Paine. Born in Thetford he championed the cause of American independence, published The Rights of Man in 1791 and was a deputy in the French revolutionary government. His turbulent life and the theories which he promulgated are the subject of The Liberty Tree by Robb Johnson and Leon Rosselson at the Trestle Arts Base on 13 June.

St Albans as a religious centre comes into its own on 19 June with the annual Festival Pilgrimage tracing events from the Roman-era martyrdom of St Alban through medieval pilgrimages, Tudor and Stuart-era upheavals, Victorian restoration to the present day. Larks in the Park is the free festival fun-day on 20 June for all ages with craft activities, performance snippets and workshops in drumming, graffiti and parkour – that one’s new to me.

New this year is the Buskers Week from 21 to 27 June. Performers more at home on the London Underground or around Covent Garden will be out and about offering operatic arias, original poetry, living statues and a host of instrumental pieces in all styles. St Peters Street will host family entertainment including Tex/Mex, rock, reggae and folk music as well as street theatre. Folk at the Festival culminates over 25 to 27 June with concerts, parades and dancing.