Not One - But Two Festival Weekends For North York Moors Coastal Village This Year

Staithes set to celebrate and share its artistic heritage with the world
Colin Petch
May 10, 2023

The coastal village of Staithes in the North York Moors National Park is celebrating its artistic roots and shining the spotlight on the huge pool of local creative talent with an extra event this summer, while at the same time reviving September’s popular Arts and Heritage weekend.

The Staithes Weekender event will take place on 23-25 June, followed by the Staithes Festival of Arts and Heritage on 15-17 September, which makes a welcome return after a four-year absence.

Both events are organised by the local community and underline the lure of the village. Having originally been an art colony for an influential group of Impressionist painters back in the late 1800s, Staithes retains an enduring appeal for artists who are inspired by the ever-changing light together with the dramatic seascapes and the quirky cottages lining the cobbled streets.

Staithes in North Yorkshire

The Staithes Weekender – 23-25 June

For this weekend, there’s a real blend of music, art and entertainment lined up for visitors.

The programme includes an appearance by well-known actor and former Staithes resident Ace Bhatti who returns to the village to talk about his role as Freddie Mercury’s father in Bohemian Rhapsody, before a showing of the film.

Music features prominently at venues throughout the village and on the harbour front, as well as numerous buskers performing on the streets. There will be folk, jazz, blues, soul and bluegrass artists in the line-up including Eliza Carthy, who hails from nearby Robin Hood’s Bay and will be performing a rare solo gig in St Peter’s Centre. There will be afternoon concerts at the Lifeboat House, a Northern Soul evening and the Men of Staithes choir singing traditional sea shanties and leading a closing procession through the village.

The programme also includes a session with Andy Blackford from Middlesbrough, a rock guitarist and prize winning poet and author who will be entertaining the audience with anecdotes of village life from Grant McKee’s unpublished but hugely anticipated book on Staithes.

St Peter’s Centre will host an exhibition of the work of award-winning artists and Staithes residents, Paul and Christine Czainski; while for those keen to hone their own creative talents, the weekend will also have a string of workshops on photography, printing and singing.

The Weekender is free to attend, with some of the individual events ticketed. For more programme information and event prices CLICK HERE.  

Staithes Festival of Arts and Heritage - 15-17 September 2023

The Staithes Festival of Arts and Heritage returns after a four-year absence with a new sense of energy created by the residents and businesses within the village, featuring 60 pop-up galleries in the cottages and along the cobbled streets and harbour front.

As well as being an opportunity to admire the abundant local creative talent, the Festival also gives visitors the chance to discover more of the heritage of Staithes, whether it’s seeing how families once lived, how mining, fishing and art were intertwined and the traditions that have been handed down through the generations.

This year the programme of talks includes Yorkshire antiques auctioneer and Bargain Hunt presenter Caroline Hawley who will be valuing items brought along by ticket holders while sharing stories of her career.

Alongside the galleries exhibiting the work of oil and watercolour artists, ceramicists, jewellers and craftspeople, there will also be a display by Emma Stothard, a renowned willow and wire sculptor from Whitby, whose work graces the Royal Gardens at Highgrove.

The programme continues with workshops by Ian Burke, former head of art at Eton College who now co-runs Staithes Gallery; metalwork demonstrations by local blacksmith and sculptor Katie Ventress, and lobster pot-making sessions.

The line-up of speakers will include Al Milnes who will share the story of how the fishing village became an artists’ colony in the late 1800s; and an historian from the Land of Iron Museum at Skinningrove, talking about the history of ironstone and alum mining along the coast.

There’s plenty of entertainment, including a Saturday evening in the company of renowned comic, poet and musician John Hegley, plus a variety of street music, whether it’s jazz provided by the Zak Parlby Quartet or the Men of Staithes fisherman’s choir.

As night falls, there’s the added spectacle of seeing the surrounding cliffs illuminated, sculptures lit up and a heritage light trail winding its way from the harbour and along the beach.

The Staithes Festival of Arts and Heritage, supported by the North York Moors National Park, is free to attend; some events will be ticketed. For further information go to Staithes Festival - Arts and Heritage Festival on the Yorkshire Coast.

Images: Visit Britain