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.’

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