A look ahead to the Hebden Bridge Arts Festival

PUBLISHED: 00:00 15 June 2015

Superman was among the star turns at last years Arts Festival. What do you mean its not really him? Photo Craig Shaw

Superman was among the star turns at last years Arts Festival. What do you mean its not really him? Photo Craig Shaw

not Archant

The 22nd annual event takes place from June 26 to July 5

The town is surrounded by the gloriously green Calder ValleyThe town is surrounded by the gloriously green Calder Valley

Hebden Bridge has long been known as an arty kind of place and that reputation will be enhanced this month as one of the town’s bigger events draw in the crowds.

Helen Meller, the director of the arts festival, wants to see some of the peaks and troughs ironed out and events staged in Hebden Bridge throughout the year.

‘We are looking at ways we can do things year round, maybe with family festivals or winter festivals,’ she said. ‘There is so much activity going on, sometimes too much, with festivals and events every weekend during the summer months all competing for audiences. I would like to see a bit more of a cascade throughout the year.

‘When the festival started it was a leisurely literature festival with events scattered throughout over six weeks, but life moved at a different pace then. Everyone now is frantically competing for audiences but people only have so much money and time, they can’t go to every festival. We want to make people feel they are on holiday in their own town and for the people who are on holiday, we want to send them home with wonderful memories of great experiences.

Arts festival director Helen MellerArts festival director Helen Meller

‘This is the 22nd Hebden Bridge Arts Festival so we are one of the elder statesmen of the festival world, most are more recent and some don’t stand the test of time. We’re a brand that people trust – we’re inviting, inclusive and long running and we are continuing to re-invent ourselves. We’re in a great location too, and artists see value in being here so we have a lot of things in our favour.’

This year’s festival, which runs from June 26 to July 5, will be Helen’s third as director and has attracted big names including poet John Hegley, writer Lemn Sissay and comedian Richard Herring as well as rock band I Am Kloot, scores of street performers and a world music picnic

Helen is originally from Doncaster and worked as a producer for television programmes hosted by Mariella Frostrup before starting work in Hebden Bridge. ‘I wanted to be a children’s television presenter at first but I don’t think I have enough of an ego, I think I like making things happen better.

‘My job is about lighting the touch-paper and seeing where the fireworks go off. I am very privileged to be in this role but it’s not about me, it’s about the people who come and take part and about the volunteers who do such a good job. I am the ring master, but I’m a quiet, understated ring master.

‘During the festival, I try to spread myself as thinly as I can. Events I go to as a punter are the ones I enjoy the most. On the street days it’s lovely to lose yourself in the crowd and watch the faces of people. It’s great to watch the magic unfold.

‘Most of the time I’m anxious that everything is going well, that’s the nature of live events, it’s what makes them special. The days of passive audience driven events are a thing of the past, it’s a much more immersive experience and we have got to change with the times. The festival model is brilliant for that because it’s not anything until you make it.’

Events will be staged at venues around the town – indeed, the festival’s strapline is ‘where all the world’s a stage’ – and even more people will be able to be players as the town warms up for the festival with another event which re-affirms Hebden Bridge’s arty standing.


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Yorkshire Life visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Yorkshire Life staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Yorkshire Life account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Out & About

Mon, 00:00

There’s lots going on in Wakefield so visitors shouldn’t just confine their visit to the nationally famous Hepworth gallery, says Tony Greenway.

Read more
Thursday, September 13, 2018

Flamborough might be small but it has a big beach bag full of fun stuff for visitors to do

Read more
Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Enjoy this walk with its secretive paths through shady woods starting from a classic North York Moors village

Read more
Tuesday, September 11, 2018

The Gateway to the Dales can be the perfect base for a walking holiday around the Yorkshire Dales, this selection of walks are all within a ten mile radius of the market town.

Read more
Monday, September 10, 2018

Ambitious plans are going ahead to create new and unique public gardens that will inspire your own planting

Read more
Thursday, September 6, 2018

There’s much more to Leyburn than you might expect, as Martin Pilkington discovered when he joined the growing throng of visitors.

Read more
Wednesday, September 5, 2018

There are plenty of reasons for the obvious pride locals have in Brighouse

Read more
Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Organisers of the 160th Great Yorkshire Show welcome many thousands of visitors to their anniversary extravaganzer

Read more
Great Yorkshire Show
Tuesday, September 4, 2018

The hidden life below the waves is vital to the wildlife above it. Clea Grady from Yorkshire Wildlife Trust takes a peek into the North Sea

Read more
Wednesday, August 29, 2018

A long forgotten part of game keeping is uncovered in the grounds of a South Yorkshire country house

Read more

Topics of Interest