Welcome to the 2018 Swaledale Festival - 26 May to 9 June

Online booking opens on Monday 26 March. Priority booking for subscribers to our Festival Friends scheme opens on Monday 5 March.

"I am delighted to present a packed fortnight of performances by some of the most exciting classical, folk, jazz and world musicians, as well as theatre, film, dance, poetry, comedy, workshops, family events, talks, guided walks and art exhibitions. All this takes place in charming ancient churches, village halls and heritage buildings in the stunning landscape of the North Yorkshire Dales.

This year’s truly international line-up includes musicians and artists from Syria, Iran, Poland, Latvia, Estonia, Ukraine, Ireland, France, Italy, Australia, India, China, South Africa, Senegal, Argentina, Venezuela, Canada and the USA, as well as a large number from the UK, and Yorkshire in particular. 

Our Young Artists Platform features immensely talented young performers early in their careers. There are new commissions and world premieres, and our programme of work in schools and care homes is more comprehensive than ever.

J.S. Bach’s keyboard masterpiece Goldberg Variations features in a number of events this year, with complete performances by both the harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani and the pianist Angela Hewitt, as well as an excerpt from harpist Catrin Finch and kora player Seckou Keita. The mathematician Marcus du Sautoy's Reeth Lecture (our tenth, incidentally) will focus on Bach’s use of mathematical symmetry in Goldberg Variations, and there will be two screenings of 32 Short Films About Glenn Gould which contains excerpts from the late pianist’s ground-breaking recordings of the work.

Please have a browse through our Programme and Exhibition pages where you will find a diverse selection of extraordinary music and art to choose from. I look forward to seeing you at the Festival!"

Malcolm Creese, Artistic Director

The Festival is extremely grateful for the generosity of our sponsors, funders, donors, legacy givers, Festival Friends and Angels, as well as the tireless work and dedication of our loyal volunteers, our staff, and members of the Festival Board. Swaledale Festival receives support from Arts Council England and from generous sponsors including  Sherwoods (Vauxhall) of DarlingtonHandelsbanken, Latimer Hinks Solicitors, Kenneth Easby Accountants, T&R Theakston Ltd, Purple Creative StudioTennants Garden RoomsMillgate House B&B in Richmond, the Burgoyne Hotel in Reeth and the Bridge Inn in Grinton. We are also supported by a number of Local Businesses shown here.

Catrin Finch and Seckou Keita, international harp and kora stars, will be performing on Monday 28 May

Recent News

The Swaledale Festival is in full (and uproarious) swing

The two-week festival of music, arts and walking launched on Friday 26 May with the opening of JAZZ! – a vibrant art exhibition by primary and secondary pupils at The Station gallery in Richmond.  Pupils, their families and carers were invited to a special evening preview, and were praised for their contribution and creativity in a welcome speech by Artistic Director, Malcolm Creese.  Heather Hodgson, Marketing Coordinator says: ‘it was amazing to see the faces of the pupils as they crossed the threshold of the Station and looked up at the gallery to see their work on display – they were grinning with pride.  This is a prestigious venue and it’s a great feeling for these kids to have their work on public display.’


During the first week of the Festival numerous venues across Swaledale, Wensleydale and Arkengarthdale were filled with high-quality music and sell-out audiences.

The Kanneh-Mason Trio – three talented siblings including the cellist and reigning BBC Young Musician of the Year Sheku Kanneh-Mason – performed a mesmerising afternoon concert to a stunned audience at St. Andrew’s Church in Aysgarth. ‘They are an extraordinary family and their playing is masterful’ says Creese.  ‘They also took the time to mix and talk with the audience afterwards, and that was very special’.

On the same day five miles down the road in Askrigg, Northern Monkey Brass Band who were preparing for their evening show gave an impromptu extra performance in Askrigg Village Hall to the community who were gathered in fancy dress for the annual village sports bash.  They went on to perform an energetic evening gig at St. Oswald’s.

On Wednesday 31st May The HandleBards, a four-strong troupe who describe themselves as ‘Shakespeare on Bikes’ performed a double-bill of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Reeth Community Orchard.  One audience member said: ‘they had the audience in stitches, and even got some of us taking part.  The sun shone, the orchard was in full bloom and there we all were, watching this amazing drama in our deckchairs whilst eating ice creams.  It was heaven, basically.’

With four days of the Festival to go, there is plenty left to see including Fidelio Piano Trio on Thurs 8 June in Richmond, Urban Folk Quartet on Fri 9 June in Grinton and Will Pound & Eddy Jay on Sat 10 June in Keld – the harmonica and accordionist duo.

Local resident of Wensleydale Karen Heseltine says: ‘on the first day of the Festival it’s like opening a box of magic that stays wide open for two weeks.  I cannot wait to see harpist Jean Kelly play in Reeth and jazz singer Vimala Rowe in Leyburn.’

For more details, or to book tickets, go to www.swalefest.org

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