Top Festivals in Whitby

09 March 2022

Whitby's Top Festivals

Many people travel to Whitby to enjoy the stunning beaches and to explore this famous town, but there are some who head to the North Yorkshire town to experience the region’s festival scene. Many of these festivals are well-known across the country and some even attract international visitors.

So if you want to experience one of these great local festivals during your holiday at a Whitby hotel, then read on to see a rundown of some of the best festivals in Whitby and other popular festivals across Yorkshire.


Whitby Regatta

The Whitby Regatta

Famous as a seaside destination, it’s unsurprising that one of the best festivals to experience in Whitby is connected with the water.

The Whitby Regatta is one of the oldest sea regattas on the Northeast coast and this year the festival celebrates its 175th birthday.

The regatta, which takes place from 14th-17th August this year, encompasses four days of entertainment that includes yacht racing, rowing races and features a lively vibrant carnival that passes through the streets.

The President of the Whitby Regatta, Jane Kenyon-Miller, said, “Each year our community celebrates the traditions of a regatta at sea and a carnival on land. Organised by a small committee of volunteers from our community they endeavour to make each year a special, but different event, reflecting family fun, community spirit and the long established traditions of our ancient seaport.”

The Whitby Regatta has drawn very large crowds into the town in the past and this is set to continue this year.

Whitby Folk Festival

Whitby Folk Festival

Another festival that is taking place in August is the Whitby Folk Festival and this year is the festival’s 50th anniversary.

Taking place from 22nd-28th August, the event will feature the Demon Barbers XL Roadshow, and the festival will see traditional music and dance meeting anything from rap to hip hop.

During the week-long festival visitors will be able to see BBC2 Folk Singer for this year Nancy Kerr with her partner James Fagan and her own band The Sweet Visitor Band.

Well-known American folk singers Jeff Warner, Sara Grey, Kieron Means and Debby McClatchy are all crossing the Atlantic to perform at the popular festival as well.

Whitby Blues Festival

Whitby Blues Festival
If you are a lover of music then another popular musical affair in the region is the Whitby Blues Festival, a one-day affair that is now in its third year.

This year’s event takes place on Saturday 3rd October 2015 at the Whitby Pavilion from 2pm-10pm and due to its strong seven-act line-up tickets for the event are selling really well.

The impressive line-up includes Connie Lush, who is regarded as one of the best Blues singers in the UK and has won the Best Female Vocalist in the UK five times and European Blues Vocalist of the year twice. Other acts include Larry Miller, Danny Bryant and Albany Down to name but a few.

Bram Stoker International Film Festival

Bram Stoker International Festival

One of the biggest and most unique genre festivals in the country also takes place in Whitby, The Bram Stoker International Film Festival.

The Bram Stoker International Film Festival is now in its sixth year and despite originally being devised to show off Bram Stoker’s undeniable influence on horror cinema and literature, the festival has now become a celebration for all things dark and ghoulish.

Whitby is the birthplace of Dracula and visitors will be soaked in a great atmosphere as the festival continues Whitby’s and Bram Stoker’s gothic theme through films, literature, art and music.

This year’s festival dates are 22nd-25th October and hundreds of people are expected to turn out for the event.


Musicport Festival welcomes Varldens

Now in its 16th year and having received the best ever feedback from audience and artists alike in 2014, the Musicport Festival has launched its 2015 programme.

Musicport, winner of the Indoor Festival of the Year for 2013 in the FATEA Awards, is taking place from 16th-18th October 2015 at the Whitby Pavilion and festival goers will be able to enjoy listening to major international acts playing alongside some of the best local and regional acts.

The indoor festival was established in 2000 to promote live music and music education in Whitby and the surrounding area, and Musicport is suited to festival goers of all ages.

Some of the popular acts playing at this year’s event include Afrikan Boy, Varldens Band, Fanfara Tirana meets Trans-Global Underground and the Soweto Gospel Choir.


Scarborough Jazz festival

Scarborough Jazz Festival

Another popular holiday destination in North Yorkshire is Scarborough and those who are staying in Scarborough hotels at the end of September should check out the Scarborough Jazz festival.

Taking place from 25th-27th September, around 200 people had already bought tickets for the festival even before the line-up had been announced due to its popularity.

Mike Gordon, Festival Director for Scarborough Jazz festival, added, “Again we have a mix of well-established performers, chosen because I feel their jazz is continually developing, and younger bands with a diversity of musical agendas.

“We have some very classy musicians from the USA: Jean Toussaint (ex Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, McCoy Tyner, Gil Evans, Horace Silver …); Darius Brubeck, highlight of a previous festival; two New York stars making up pianist Barry Green’s trio; and Michael Janisch, who has done so much to promote jazz links between America and the UK, with Paradigm Shift.”

To find out more about the other artists playing at the festival visit the Scarborough Jazz festival website.

Staxtonbury Music Festival

Staxtonbury Music Festival

Located on the idyllic 24-acre site at Manor Farm, Staxton, between Scarborough and Malton, the Staxtonbury Music Festival is perfect for the family to visit.

This year’s seventh Staxtonbury Music Festival will be held from 3rd-5th July 2015 and is set to welcome over 400 musicians and singers performing on four stages. In fact, it is believed that this year’s festival will be the largest group of Yorkshire-based entertainers ever assembled in the county at one single event.

Some of the best local bands including Scarborough’s Soul Rida, Snatch, Quicks and Friday Street will all be performing at the event.

Weekend adult tickets for the festival cost just £48 and day tickets are available too for just £20 for adults.

York Food & Drink Festival

York Food and Drink Festival

Now in its 19th year, the York Food & Drink Festival returns in 2015 to celebrate Yorkshire food and drink.

This year’s festival takes place from 18th-27th September and the theme for 2015 is ‘Food in Words & Pictures’, which will incorporate cookery books, art works and films based around Yorkshire food. Check out our guide to the best Yorkshire foods for an idea of what might be on offer.

The festival will also be holding photography and art competitions, film showings, a festival cookery book, an ‘edible’ hat and much more.

The festival will take place all over the city, with a food market, champagne bar and live music open every day. To find out what else is happening at the event, click here.

Beverley Folk Festival

Beverley Folk Festival

Having been nominated for 5 consecutive years in the UK Festival Awards for the best Family Festival, up against the likes of Glastonbury Festival, Beverley Folk Festival is justifiably proud of its fun programme of free events for families and young audiences.

Whilst British Folk music still remains at the heart of the festival, this year’s line-up also features other music genres such as Americana, World Music, Blues, Classic Rock and much more. This year’s acts include Seth Lakeman and Hayseed Dixie from the USA.

In recent years, Beverley Folk Festival has expanded to encompass Comedy, Film, Poetry, Drama, Dance, Literature and the Spoken Word, as well as offering visitors a wide range of crafts and food outlets to explore and some fine real ale to taste.

The festival will be held for the third year at Beverley’s popular racecourse and the festival is again expected to attract large crowds from 19th-21st June.

Burton Agnes Jazz and Blues Festival

Burton Agnes Jazz and Blues Festival

The annual Burton Agnes Jazz and Blues Festival takes place from 3rd-5th July and a number of award-winning artists will be performing at the festival.

Surrounded by the beautiful Yorkshire Wolds, the festival is set in the grounds and Great Hall of Burton Agnes Hall – a stunning Elizabethan stately home. This setting could be one of the reasons why the Independent recently described the festival as, “Possibly the most enjoyable jazz concert I’ve ever attended”.

The year of 2015 marks one hundred years since the birth of perhaps the greatest of all jazz singers, Billie Holiday. To celebrate, the critically acclaimed tribute to Billie, ‘Lady Sings The Blues’, is coming to Burton Agnes, featuring Val Wiseman, who was twice crowned best singer in the British Jazz Awards.

For ticket prices for the event click here.

Ilkley Art Trail

Ilkley Art Trail

Ilkley Art Trail started back in 2011 and is a five-day event that this year will run from 7th-11th October.

The Ilkley Art Trail Festival turns the town of Ilkley into a whole art gallery with around 45 artists set to show their work this autumn. In the spirit of all great art trails, the artists, including painters, ceramicists, potters, printmakers, sculptors and photographers, will be inviting the public into their houses and studios. Others will be exhibiting in offices, therapy rooms, community halls, pubs, shopping centres and other more unusual spaces.

BBC presenter Kirsty Wark recently spoke about the Ilkley Art Trail (IAT). She said, “IAT creates opportunities for everyone to easily access new and stimulating art in interesting and unusual venues other than traditional galleries in the town – it’s a magical event!”

VW Festival

VW Festival

The VW Festival is a family-friendly, entertainment-filled weekend that has something for everyone.

The festival, which takes place from 14th-16th August at Harewood House in Leeds, is a place where visitors can spend the day or the full weekend looking around some of the best Volkswagens that the UK (and in some cases from overseas!) has to offer. There will also be live music, a live graffiti display, a dog show and a wide variety of other entertainment throughout the weekend.

VW Festival exhibition

In previous years there have been attractions such as a chainsaw juggling display, fire eater’s show, stilt walkers, fire dancers, circus performers, an F1 simulator, a BMX display team display and a free runner’s show.

Image Credit: Whitby Regatta, Whitby Folk Festival, Whitby Blues Festival, Bram Stoker International Film Festival, Musicport, Scarborough Jazz festival, Staxtonbury Music Festival, York Food and Drink Festival, Beverley Folk Festival, Burton Agnes Jazz and Blues Festival, Ilkley Art Trail, VW Festival, James Stubley.

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