Every year, the Ryedale Festival welcomes outstanding performers from all over the world, both established and emerging, to perform a wide-ranging and distinctive programme in the many spectacular venues in and around Ryedale, North Yorkshire – an area full of history and natural beauty.

The Festival enjoys a large, loyal and enthusiastic audience, the warm support of the local community and a reputation as one of the most exciting and enterprising in the country. Events range far and wide across the area and performances are given at the great houses of Castle Howard, Hovingham Hall, Duncombe Park, Birdsall House and Sledmere, as well as in Ampleforth Abbey, York Minster, Scarborough Spa and many other local venues. There is also a popular series of Coffee Concerts given in the many beautiful, often remote, country churches of North Yorkshire and a series of literary events, talks, exhibitions and workshops

The market towns and villages of the region – principally Malton, Helmsley and Pickering – are of a muted loveliness, and seem not much changed for decades. Beautiful medieval churches and major stately homes abound. The surrounding countryside encompasses the North York Moors and magisterial Howardian Hills, as well as vast rolling landscapes and wooded valleys through which the River Rye flows.

The Festival began in 1981 when four musician friends, Geoffrey and June Emerson, and Peter and Alex White, had the idea of launching a small series of local concerts. This first Helmsley Festival brought together more friends and other professional musicians, and made an immediate impact on the town and its surroundings. So popular did it become that after five Festivals a broader base was called for, and the Ryedale District Council stepped in with the generous support, enabling it to grow. Before long, events ranged far and wide in the area to make a true Ryedale Festival. Highlights of recent Festivals include visits by many internationally renowned soloists, chamber ensembles and orchestras. There is a long tradition of opera, invariably highly acclaimed by both critics and audience, together with strong support and enthusiasm for talented young performers, including workshops and a ticketing initiative to help more young people to explore the festival.

Photography by Emma Lambe.

Under the present Artistic Director, Christopher Glynn, the festival continues to go from strength to strength, with steadily rising ticket sales and a growing reputation for the excellence of its programming. Broadcasts on BBC Radio 3 have brought the festival to a national audience, while the Young Ryedale ticketing initiative and a series of workshops and masterclasses offer opportunities to a new generation of music-lovers in North Yorkshire. Among many exciting and ambitious plans for the future, the festival recently developed long-term partnerships with Royal Northern Sinfonia, Opera North, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, BBC New Generation Artists and the Hallé Orchestra.

Join us soon to discover the festival’s friendly atmosphere and unique magic.