Holmfirth Arts Festival sets sail for its sixth year this June under the direction of a new skipper, Fiona Goh.

There is plenty to celebrate, including the hundredth anniversary of the famous Picturedrome.

Fiona is busy lining up a ten-day event with a distinctly ‘seaside’ theme and including Holmfirth’s very own illuminations.

The experienced festival organiser, who has worked on events including Harrogate International Festival, wants to transform the town with a wide variety of attractions.

“I’m really interested in the way that festivals can change people’s perceptions of a place and I hope the events we put on will make people see Holmfirth in a different light,” she said. “There will be some very unusual things appearing and lots of free events for everyone to enjoy.”

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Fiona Goh the Festival Director seated outside the famous Sid’s Café in the centre of Holmfirth

Family friendly days include Holmfirth on Sea in Victoria Park on the second Saturday of the festival and the chance to marvel at Holmfirth’s riverside illuminations with a stunning fire sculpture trail on the opening Friday of the Festival.  Dads will get the opportunity to go den building in the woods on Father’s Day and younger children can be treated to a special performance by theatre company Tutti Frutti. There are also plans for a packed programme of textile workshops using recycled and upcycled materials.   Fair and Funky will also be working with local schools to create a giant postcard trail throughout Holmfirth, using Holmfirth Driftwood. Look out for the specially commissioned festival postbox, too!

No festival is complete without its musical highlights and this year plays host to a performance by acclaimed British jazz pianist Django Bates at Holmfirth Picturedrome on Sunday 16 June.

“If you’ve never seen Django live, grab a ticket,” said Fiona. “He’s a true British eccentric and a breathtakingly original musician and performer.”

Django plays the Picturedrome on the back of five star Guardian reviews and has recently announced a summer date at the Proms with his ‘Beloved’ trio.

Meltham-based poet Alison Lock sets the scene for a number of literary events including a reading of a poem written following her experience as Poet in Residence for last year’s festival. Poet Harriet Tarlo and artist Judith Wood will also be launching their new artists’ book on the Tributaries project, a two year festival commission inspired by the landscape of the valley; the launch will include readings of Harriet’s work.

“Writing is something that everyone can do,” said Fiona. “So keep an eye out for the writing deckchairs throughout Holmfirth, where you can relax and air your views on what you love about the town. Or take part in a creative writing walk and workshop on the very last day of the festival.”

Storytelling in all its guises will also be a central part of the festival this year with a guided walk around some of Holmfirth’s most interesting sites, telling tales of heroism, danger and ghosts. And take care if you are driving in the area as you may come across Mike Bettison and Gary Bridgens, better known as  Rambling On, as they walk from Upperthong to Holmfirth with Dolly the cart, collecting material from innocent passers-by for their specially commissioned storytelling show.

Or if it’s anarchy you’re after, Comedian Mark Thomas brings minor havoc to the town when he returns to make mischief, with a purpose. He arrives in Holmfirth having set himself the task of committing 100 Acts of Minor Dissent in the space of a year – anything can happen, and it probably will!

Holmfirth Arts Festival is funded by Arts Council England, Kirklees Council, Holme Valley Parish Council and receives support from many local businesses and individuals. Full details of this year’s festival are available on the festival website  www.holmfirthartsfestival.co.uk and a free brochure listing all the events will be distributed to key information points around the Holme Valley in mid May.

To buy tickets call Holmfirth Tourist Information Centre 01484 222444 or Kirklees booking line on 01484 223200.

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