Swaledale Festival declared a big success

The organisers of Swaledale Festival have thanked the artists, volunteers, sponsors and audiences who helped make the celebratory 50th-anniversary Swaledale Festival a success.

More than 6,200 tickets were sold for 50 music, arts and walking events across 18 venues, from Handel’s Messiah filling the heights of Ripon Cathedral, to brass, strings, woodwind, piano, percussion and vocals resounding in the chapels and churches of the Dales, to a folk fest in a cowshed.

Artistic director Malcolm Creese said: “After two years of waiting, it was a treat to get back to live performances in full venues.

“We combined seasonal Festival favourites with brand new faces, aiming to offer something for everyone whilst presenting a spin on the norm and the traditional.”

Festivalgoers had the chance to experience ethereal percussion magic in Dame Evelyn Glennie’s The Language of Bells, exquisite piano from 19-year-old sensation Jeneba Kanneh-Mason, outdoor grooves and beats in the family fun day on Reeth Green, a genre-shifting singing workshop with vocal masters VOCES8 and their sublime concert with violinist Rachel Podger.

They were transported to the realm of old Ireland with fiddler Niamh Ní Charra, trotted the globe with the international Antonio Forcione Quartet, and were brought back to Swaledale with the legendary local folk group Fourum.

There was an electrifying performance from New York-based Russian violinist Alexander Markov and an atmospheric finale with Northumbrian piper Kathryn Tickell and her band The Darkening – as well as jazz, blues, brass, film, talks and five art exhibitions.

MP Rishi Sunak said the festival had made an important contribution to the cultural life of the Yorkshire Dales over half a century.

He added: “I’ve very much enjoyed attending festival events.

“The festival is always impressive in its quality and range, bringing some of the best artists in the world here and also involving so many local people in the programme.

“I congratulate everyone involved in planning, organising and supporting the festival on this milestone and look forward to the festival continuing to thrive in the years to come.”

The festival’s work continued with the Wandering Minstrels programme in which professional musicians visited local care homes and schools to perform for those who otherwise may not have the opportunity to experience professional arts.

Mezzo-soprano Patricia Hammond and multi-instrumentalist Matt Redman performed for residents of Hillcrest Care Home and Rosedale Nursing Home in Catterick, Kirkwood Hall in Leyburn, Nightingale Hall in Richmond and Sycamore Hall in Bainbridge.

Wind group The Magnard Ensemble performed for pupils at The Wensleydale School and Leyburn Primary School, and Aurora Percussion Duo shared their magic with students at Hipswell Primary School, Le Cateau Community Primary School and Risedale School.

Swaledale Festival 2023 will run from 27 May to 10 June.

For more information, visit www.swalefest.org