The Swaledale Festival (Swalefest) is one of the most popular music and arts events held in Yorkshire each year.

The Festival was founded in 1972 and was due to run in 2020 for two weeks between the 23 May and 6 June but has unfortunately been cancelled with the Covid-19 outbreak. But the event is so wonderful we thought we would review it so you can make plans to come and check it out in 2021 and beyond.

The focus of the Festival is on exploring the dramatic landscapes, history, legends and characters of our three most northerly Dales Swaledale, Wensleydale and Arkengarthdale.

The programme includes a range of music from classical to folk, jazz and brass band. Other events include drama, film, comedy, children’s activities and talks. There are also a range of guided walks which explore the rich industrial heritage of these picturesque valleys.

Festival venues vary from historic chapels to charming village halls and heritage sites such as the Richmond Georgian Theatre and Gayle Mill near Hawes.

The Festival opens with three days of family friendly activities and events held on the village green at Reeth. This delightful village makes an excellent base for people wishing to stay over during the Festival and has a range of accommodation options to suit all pockets. Reeth is also home to the outstanding Swaledale Museum which tells the story of Swaledale and Arkengarthdale through its collection of historical and intriguing objects.

As well as attracting musicians and artists from around the world the Festival provides a much needed platform for local performers and artists and often commissions new works to be performed or exhibited for the first time.

The Festival has received a number of national and international awards for its important work including the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service in 2018 and the Prime Minister’s Big Society Award in 2014.

For details of future Swaledale Festivals visit its website swaledale.org

David Holt.