About Swaledale Festival

Founded in 1972, the Swaledale Festival is an annual festival of music and arts based in the three most northerly Yorkshire Dales - Swaledale, Wensleydale and Arkengarthdale - a large rural area of outstanding beauty.  The Festival begins on the Saturday of the late May Spring Bank Holiday each year and runs for two weeks.  Festival venues range from tiny chapels seating fewer than fifty people to halls seating several hundred.  Many are charming village churches but there are also heritage sites such as Richmond's Georgian Theatre Royal and Gayle Mill near Hawes. We have recently added Tennants Garden Rooms in Leyburn as a Festival venue - our largest at 600 seats. 

The programme includes a core of classical music concerts as well as folk, brass band, jazz and world music. In addition there is poetry, film, dance, drama, comedy, workshops, masterclasses, exhibitions, children's events, talks and themed guided walks. There are usually a few surprises too, such as steam train trips, bat watches, archaeology projects and astronomy sessions. There is a particular focus on the extraordinary landscape, the history, the legends and the characters of the northern Dales.

The Artists

Top musicians and artists come from all over the world to perform at Swaledale.  We have welcomed John Williams, Dame Emma Kirkby, the Hallé, Royal Northern Sinfonia, Peter Donohue, Stephen Hough, Alexander Markov, Tasmin Little, Natalie Clein, Red Priest, James Gilchrist, Iestyn Davies, Sheku Kanneh-Mason, London Mozart Players, the King's Singers, VOCES8, the Brodsky, Carducci and Ŝkampa String Quartets, Black Dyke Band, Antonio Forcione, Niamh Ní Charra, Clare Martin, Martin Taylor, Kathryn Tickell, Martin Simpson, Lau, Adel Salameh, Seckou Keita, People Show, Brian Sewell, Roger McGough, Simon Armitage and Barry Cryer.

Swaledale Festival regularly commissions music and art from leading creators such as Sally Beamish, Sir Richard Rodney Bennett, David Blake, Graham Coatman, Stephen Goss, Roxanna Panufnik, Jonathan Dove, Heather Fenoughty, David Gordon, Alan Plater and Michael Kusz.  The Festival also provides an important platform for local performers and artists, has an extensive Community & Education Programme and gives valuable performance opportunities to up-and-coming musicians through the Young Artists Platform.

The Festival has received several national and international awards for its work, including the Prime Minister's Big Society Award in 2014. Please visit our Awards page to see what’s been happening.

Festivals North is comprised of four fantastic North Yorkshire festivals - Swaledale Festival, Coastival, Grassington Festival and Harrogate International Festivals.  Together we promote our work to an ever-increasing national and international audience, and celebrate the fact that whilst each festival is unique, taken together they provide a wonderful and varied arts offer throughout the year.  We showcase the arts at their finest against a unique and breathtaking coastal and countryside backdrop: www.festivalsnorth.org