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About the Festival

Every year, the Ryedale Festival welcomes outstanding performers from all over the world 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.

Founded in 1981, 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 summer festivals in Europe.

Events range far and wide across the county of North Yorkshire, and performances are given in over thirty beautiful and historic venues, including Castle Howard, York Minster, Scarborough Spa, Hovingham Hall, Duncombe Park, Sledmere House, Ampleforth Abbey, Malton’s Milton Rooms and many local arts centres, village halls and theatres. A popular series of morning Coffee Concerts brings music to churches and rural communities across the area. There’s also jazz, poetry, folk, world music, talks, masterclasses, Family Concerts, Relaxed Performances, Dementia-friendly events, Late-Night Candlelit Concerts, workshops, Come and Sing events, a primary schools choir, a Young Artist programme and ‘pop-up’ touring opera.

Innovative and imaginative programming attracts hundreds of top-level artists from all over the world. But the spirit of the festival is equally found in its many participatory events, including Community Operas involving hundreds of local people and children. The festival has a long tradition of spotting and supporting outstanding emerging performers, while a ticketing initiative enables young people in the region to attend most events for free. It has twice been a finalist at the Royal Philharmonic Society Awards where it was praised for the way it ‘always wraps its arms around the local community’.

Broadcasts on BBC Radio 3 bring the festival to a national audience and long-term partnerships have been developed with The Hallé, Opera North, Royal Northern Sinfonia, Manchester Collective, Yorkshire Young Musicians, Leeds International Piano Competition, and Kirkbymoorside Brass Band.

The breadth and depth of the festival’s impact is reflected at the box office, where it has achieved record-breaking ticket sales for twelve years in succession. Based on standard supplier and economic multipliers for the tourism sector, it is estimated that the festival generates income and economic benefit for the region of well over £1m every year.

During the pandemic, the festival created an online platform called RyeStream which has shared performances with over 200,000 music-lovers world-wide and been singled out twice by The Guardian as ‘among the best online offerings of any festival’.

The festival also works closely with its sister organisation – the Richard Shephard Music Foundation – to bring the experience and enjoyment of music to children in disadvantaged and isolated communities across North Yorkshire.

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