Holmfirth Arts Festival 2022 was a huge success

Holmfirth Arts Festival 2022 was a huge success

Almost 8,000 people flocked back to the streets and venues of the Yorkshire town of Holmfirth and the Holme Valley for this year’s much-loved annual Holmfirth Arts Festival.

The festival, confidently marketed as ‘Yorkshire Best Small Festival’, has a programme of professional and community co-created arts events, addressing climate sustainability and inspired by the natural landscape, that are accessible to people of all ages.

Plans are already underway for next year’s festival with a theme of “Forces of Nature”.

Steering the ship is Bev Adams, a creative producer and director whose drive and ambition over the past five years has seen the festival transformed into a developmental force for environmentally conscious and culturally diverse arts and culture in Kirklees and the region.

Bev said: “We are deeply inspired by our location in the Holme Valley, bordering the Peak District National Park. The landscape is simply breath-taking. This year, we embraced the theme of ‘The Earth Beneath Our Feet’, and invited the best local, national and international artists to respond to the theme of the landscape and environment, in all their diversity

The new festival format for 2022 extended the programme from March until October, whilst maintaining its usual mid June Festival Weekend slot.

This development proved hugely successful with sell-out ticketed events and great crowds for free/pay as you feel outdoor events.

The heavy rain during a magical lantern trail at Magdale Dam in Honley on October 15, did not curb attendance or dampen spirits for the festival finale.

High quality arts and culture poured out of the 30 plus different events which included comedy, theatre and music events, visual art commissions, street theatre, creative storytelling walks, music, song and dance in abundance, a live aerial dance performance, with an atmospheric evening lantern trail to conclude.

Top comedian Gary Delaney had his sell out audience rolling in the aisles at the Civic Hall; tweeting afterwards how much he enjoyed it. British Asian clarinettist and jazz musician Arun Ghosh, wowed capacity audiences at the Civic Hall with Clouds Harp Quartet and talented guitarist Jon Gomm playing to packed audiences in village churches. Theatre about running in the hills by Dan Bye and Boff Whalley, not only filled the Hade Edge Band Room, but attracted record numbers of fell runners to run with the artists in the Holme Valley hills early the next morning.

Many at this years’ Festival were regular attenders while the team working hard to attract newcomers by pioneering new ideas such as commissioning emerging artists, training Kirklees festival volunteers, testing new site specific events for quarries and dams, and introducing new out of town venues such as historic churches in Hepworth and New Mill.

Bev Adams said: “In 2022 we strived to remove barriers which prevent people accessing our festival. This includes careful programming to ensure diversity across genders, abilities, ages and ethnicities as well improving the access information we provide, offering a range of free activities, “pay it forward” tickets for refugees and working closely with Creative Minds NHS mental health trust to involve socially isolated people in the festival through outreach participatory activities, “friending” and helping with transport. “

A packed participatory programme invited people to bring their own creativity to the festival and 900 people got involved in the creativity making lanterns, puppets, an outdoor art trail, attending singing sessions with professional musicians with local choirs, ukulele groups, brass bands and orchestras taking the the stage in a town centre park to perform live over the free festival weekend.

Street theatre highlights included CastAway, a spectacular aerial show about ocean plastic by Coventry based Highly Sprung Performance Company, with performers flying through the air above the town’s ancient buildings, attracting huge outdoor crowds. Mind the Gap, a Bradford based company for learning disabled actors, premiered their fun new climate change awareness show to hugely appreciative audiences in the local park and Pif-Paf Theatre from Sheffield performed Bee Cart to help families learn about bees and pollination.

Commissions of new work by the festival included On Cliff Quarry by Deborah Sanderson and Vince Virr performing in aerial harnesses at sunset on Cliff crags with spectacular views over the Holme Valley. Satellite Arts were commissioned to work with local people to create the magical Light Up Magdale lantern trail at Magdale Dam. Local artist, Asha Diveney-Clegg was this year’s recipient of the annual Steve Sykes Commission for new Art in the landscape creating Tones of Holme, a beautiful kinetic waterwheel which was installed in the River Holme for the both the Festival Weekend and Light Up Magdale events. Art in the Landscape at Earthworks New Mill Community Garden was a commission for Sarah Branson to curate and install the community co-created work of 10 artists working with 10 schools and community groups into an outdoor art trail open to the public for 10 days during the summer.

Further creative activities in the landscape included guided walks with music and storytelling to four different Holme Valley walking spots, for people with physical disabilities and families of all ages and abilities.

Feedback from audiences and artists about this year’s festival have been resoundingly positive: “Holmfirth Arts Festival is a place of genuine creative engagement with its audiences. Transforming the small town into a vibrant cultural hub, which catered for audiences of all backgrounds, provided a rich variety of arts activity and performances.” said one artist. Audiences were equally complimentary: “ “Just thank you! After covid we could have been a dead town. Thanks to volunteers and Holmfirth Arts Festival – you’ve brought the town back to life,” said one audience member.

Another added: “The festival gives people a chance to see lots of different arts and how art is interpreted in different ways.”

Bev Adams adds: “None of this year’s Festival would be possible without the energy and commitment of our wonderful volunteers and the financial support from our funders: Arts Council England, Kirklees Council, One Community, Holme Valley Parish Council, The People’s Lottery and the generosity of our sponsor, Longley Farm, a Holmfirth based dairy business famed for its tasty yoghurts.”

The new format of the 2022 Holmfirth Festival seems to have paid off, so it’s time for the festival team to put up their feet and take a well-earned rest.

“Not a chance”, says Bev. “We’ve already started planning for 2023. Next year’s theme is “Forces of Nature” and it’s going to be glorious!”

The Latest Holmfirth News & Info

Featured Advert

Other Holmfirth News Stories

Check Out Another…

Skip to content