The third Hellys International Guitar Festival launched on Monday beginning a week of performances, lessons and workshops.

All events and activities are free to children under the age of 18, including a competition to win a handmade guitar worth thousands of pounds.

The festival has been described as “one of the finest guitar festivals of its kind in the world” by the Dutch director of the Nordhorn Festival and has international sponsors including string manufacturer Hannabach of Germany and Danish music publishers Bergmann Edition.

The event, which runs until Saturday, takes place at the Old Cattle Market and includes 12 evening concerts, five lunchtime recitals, poetry, workshops and free lessons every day between noon and 1pm.

New to this year is 'The H-Factor' - a guitar competition open to anyone over the age of 16, of all styles and abilities.

The winner will receive a guitar handmade by Kif Wood, who has made instruments for the likes of actor Johnny Depp.

In the last couple of years, Hellys has attracted performers from as far away as Australia and Argentina, and this year features a raft of the world's finest female concert artists.

Polish artist Aleksandra Sapok said: “In most of Europe there is not the integration of female performers in the way that there is at Hellys. It is important that European festivals should follow the lead of Hellys, and bring on young performers alongside the big names."

Tickets are available from the festival website at Daytime events cost £5 per adult, whilst evening concerts are £10. Under 18s access everything for free.