Booking for Swaledale Festival 2024 set to open

Carrivick Sisters.

Swaledale Festival, the award-winning annual celebration of music, arts and walking across Swaledale, Wensleydale and Arkengarthdale, returns on May 25 for a fabulous fortnight.

There will be 55 world-class events in the area’s chapels, churches, halls and outstanding outdoor spaces, and five free art exhibitions.

This year there is a focus on participation. An upbeat singing workshop for all abilities will be led by the UK-based Ugandan vocal duo The Ganda Boys, renowned for their thrilling African-fusion music. Stevie Wonder is a fan! Glorious Teesside folk trio, The Young’uns, loved for their rousing harmonies and witty banter, will lead a vocal workshop in Leyburn. Full-time forager and wild food expert Jim Parums will take walkers on a foraging expedition in and around Hudswell Woods near Richmond, and Dales artist Katharine Holmes will teach an outdoor ‘ink and stick’ drawing session in Swaledale. Other opportunities to participate include a dry-stone walling workshop and a creative walk with poet Mary-Jane Holmes (who returns by popular demand!).

If comedy is your bag, US-star comedian Rich Hall will perform his one-man show Shot from Cannons at Tennants in Leyburn. Expect rants, knife-edge observations and musical interludes – as well as laughs!

Virtuoso jazz guitarist Martin Taylor MBE will dazzle the audience with a solo performance. London Tango Quintet will perform a foot-tapping and energising feast of Argentinian music. Folk will feature in the form of the uber-talented Carrivick Sisters and traditional Irish supergroup The Jeremiahs, amongst others.

The festival attracts a host of big classical names to Dales’ stages. Britain’s most famous clarinettist and former BBC young musician of the year Emma Johnson will perform a musical response to the climate emergency with her thirteen-strong Orchestra for the Environment. Julian Lloyd Webber will narrate the fascinating story behind Bach’s iconic Cello Suites, with performances of the Suites by his wife and fellow cellist, Jiaxin. There will be a performance by Graffiti Classics, the wickedly funny comedy string quartet. The heroine of the 2023 Festival violinist Mathilde Milwidsky will return with her trio to perform Mozart, Beethoven and Ravel, and there will be concerts by the internationally renowned Brodsky and Villiers Quartets.

Prized local bands from Muker, Reeth and Leyburn will treat audiences to some rousing brass, and there will be flagship evening shows from The Young’uns, The Ganda Boys and the continent-spanning AKA Trio, featuring Antonio Forcione (guitars), Seckou Keita (kora) and Adriano Adewale (percussion).

Not everyone is lucky enough to experience the thrill of live, professional music. For this reason, Swaledale Festival takes a selection of performances into schools and care homes each year free of charge. In 2024, musicians will perform in four care homes and four schools in the local area, enabling pupils and residents to experience concerts first-hand. The festival is also taking eleven world-class musicians into a prison for the first time, to inspire and improve the lives of prisoners and staff. Look out for the Wandering Minstrels logo in the brochure and on the website that shows which artists are taking part in this important strand of the Festival’s community and education work.

Artistic director Malcolm Creese said: “There will, of course, be a feast of top-drawer performers of classical, folk, jazz and world music, as well as a good selection of films, talks and guided walks.

“Following requests from our audience for more hands-on events, we’re delighted to be offering plenty of opportunities for creative participation this year, so whether you’re a music or arts lover, a walker, or you fancy trying something new, there is plenty to enjoy!”

Booking opens on March 11, with a Friends Priority Period running for two weeks from February 26.

For more information, and tickets, visit