WIRRAL'S 26th International Guitar Festival opens later this week.

A host of stars will be on show throughout the three-week showcase, which opens with a performance by Joan Armatrading at the Floral Pavilion in New Brighton on Friday, November 7.

The three-times Grammy nominated, Brit award nominee and Ivor Novella winning singer-songwriter will be at the seaside venue as part of her first and last solo world tour..

Ending on November 30, the three-week showcase features classical, folk, jazz, blues and rock music - showing the versatility and prowess of the guitar casts illumination and beauty as well as power and emotion.

As well as Joan some of the finest guitarists currently on the scene will be taking part including Rick Vito, Raul Midon and Craig Ogden.

Among those  making return visits are Joe Brown, Paul Carrack, Andy Fairweather Low, Deaf School, Go West, China Crisis, Martin Simpson and Woody Mann.

Looking ahead to her show, West Indian-born Joan told the Globe in an interview earlier this year: "It will just be me playing the guitar, piano and singing.

"There will be no backing musicians. I'll be 65 when this tour ends. I want these concerts to be a special lively interactive one to one experience."

Paul Carrack is also looking forward to returning for the guitar festival.

One of the hardest working figures in modern music, the Sheffield-born entertainer found fame with Ace and Roxy Music, and has gone on to enjoy a successful career spanning 40 years.

It includes guest appearances on more than 60 albums, as well as writing for The Eagles, Diana Ross, Tom Jones, Michael McDonald and Jools Holland among others.

The timeless classic The Living Years firmly established him as a solo performer.

He said: "I've played in Wirral a few times over the years and it's always been good.

"I played at the Floral Pavilion two years ago and remember it being a great venue.

"We haven't actually nailed down the set list yet, as I've been on holiday and am getting back into the swing of things. But I know we've got a lot of stuff to choose from."

A festival spokesman said: "We are delighted that Joan will be playing a solo concert for us and know that this will be a highlight of the musical year for Wirral audiences.

"Return visits from Joe Brown, Paul Carrack, Andy Fairweather Low, Deaf School, Go West, China Crisis, Martin Simpson and Woody Mann make this one of the finest music festivals anywhere in Britain."

Full details or book tickets are available from www.bestguitarfest.com or the box office on 0151 666 0000.