By Chloe Kerfoot

The Onwards Festival is an annual Huddersfield town centre music and arts festival. The annual multi-venue music festival with a twist will lead audiences through Huddersfield’s grassroots music venues, showcasing a carefully-curated programme of live music.

This year’s festival will take place on the weekend of September 24 and 25. It will feature eight independent venues, 17 musical acts, the premiere of new music and artist collaborations, the unveiling of a visual art installation, and the release of its own festival beer in collaboration with Zapato brewery.

Throughout the year, each venue has hosted live music or supported Huddersfield’s grassroots music and arts scene in some way, making them an important part of the festival.

All of the bands performing have a connection to the area, and most have played in Huddersfield on a regular basis or have a large following in the town.

Onwards Festival debuted in 2016, fulfilling event organisers Sam Hodgson and Noah Burton’s vision of a live music experience that would take audiences around town in a ‘pub crawl’ style.

The Onwards Festival has expanded due to popular demand, involving more venues and acts each year. Following the forced two-year hiatus of the 2020 and 2021 festivals, the need to unite the town’s creative sector and community felt even more pressing, and so Onwards Festival sought and received support from Arts Council England and Kirklees Council to bring the festival back, bigger and better.

The Haggis Horns, this year’s headline act, will put on a show in the magical Small Seeds indoor forest venue. This event and the highlights of the day’s festival will be filmed and broadcast on Saturday evening and will be available to view online.

This year’s Onwards Festival has another special treat in store for all attendees. New music commissioned by the festival and written by internationally-renowned rapper Rob Bradley will be performed in collaboration with the Huddersfield Community Gospel Choir in the spectacular Victorian Byram Arcade.

Rob Bradley has established a solid reputation as an astute lyricist, captivating storyteller, unrivalled improviser, and freestyle rap world champion.

He has performed all over the world, from underground clubs in New York to European festivals. The mission of the Huddersfield Community Gospel Choir is to bring diverse audiences together through life-affirming roots and gospel music. They aim to uplift, enrich, and educate through performances, workshops, and other community-based activities.

Onwards commissions one artist each year to decorate one of the trail’s venues. This year’s art is not only for looking at but also for looking through.

Saba Rifat is best known in the area for her large pink and blue geometric installation, ‘Dewsbury Urban Garden,’ which debuted in 2020.

This piece drew Onwards’ attention to her wider work. This year, Saba is taking the reins and will be dangling brightly-coloured geometric frames from the ceiling of Byram Arcade.

Audience members will be able to look through these frames at the performance to experience it from a fresh perspective and with a more defined focus.

The Onwards Festival can be found at:

  • Hive Cafe – Saturday 24th September 1pm – 3pm & Sunday 25th September 3pm – 5pm.
  • The Brick Works – Saturday 24th September 3pm – 5pm.
  • Venn Street Social – Saturday 24th September 5pm – 7pm.
  • Byram Arcade – Saturday 24th September 7pm – 9pm.
  • Small Seeds – Saturday 24th September 9pm – 1am.
  • Sportsman – Sunday 25th September 5pm – 7pm.
  • Coffeevolution – Sunday 25th September 5pm – 7pm.
  • Northern Quarter – Sunday 25th September 7pm – 9pm.

Individual venue tickets cost £5 each and Saturday day tickets cost £15, plus a £1 booking fee. More information and the full line-up of artists and venues can be found on the festival website,