Nora Batty and Compo paid a ‘flying visit’ to Holmfirth to promote the return of the Holmfirth Arts Festival.

Dancers Deborah Sanderson and Vince Virr, from Urban Angels, dressed as the Last of the Summer Wine characters and performed an aerial routine outside the Holmfirth Picturedrome.

Deborah pulled on the famous wrinkled stockings while Vince sported Compo-style wellies. There’s a special event in Holmfirth this summer to mark the 50th anniversary of the BBC comedy series.

Holmfirth Arts Festival returns with an action-packed programme running across the Holme Valley from May to October.

Comedian Jenny Eclair headlines the festival, which features soul and blues sensation Kyla Brox, Irish band The Méabh Begley Trio, two brass bands, five walks, plus the premiere of an aerial dance performance. 

There is a weekend of free/Pay as You Decide street theatre with outdoor music, installations, as well as loads of opportunities for people to bring their own creativity to the participatory programme.

During the outdoor festival weekend on June 17-18, music and live street theatre will take over Holmfirth town centre, featuring top quality arts, activities and performances, plus the popular festival parade, created by Handmade Productions, with help from the community.

Nora Batty and Compo images by: SEAN DOYLE

Festival director Bev Adams said: “The excellent and varied programme will run at several venues and places across the Holme Valley between May and October, with the stunning Pennine landscape used to full advantage to help celebrate this year’s theme ‘Forces of Nature.’

“The festival weekend will fill the town with music, song, performance and crafting activities, plus there will even be a nod to the 50th anniversary of Last of the Summer Wine, with a special performance from aerial artists in the characters of Nora Batty and Compo.”

She said the annual event, a firm favourite on the Yorkshire festival scene, takes almost a year of preparation and is made possible thanks to the scores of volunteers and local organisations, from across the Holme Valley, who help to run the events and welcome people during festival weekend.

Scenic walks with a difference are taking place throughout the year and will include storytelling, craft activity and live performance, plus Kyla Brox appears at Brockholes Village Hall on May 20 and the Meabh Begley Trio, bring their southern Irish music and song, to Choppards Mission, in July.

There is a special festival double bill of Moby Dick by Grist to the Mill Productions, with performance poet Ryan Tomlin, at the Hade Edge Band Room, in July.

The Hallam Sinfonia performs in September and top TV comedian Jenny Eclair is at The Civic Holmfirth, in October, with an evening lantern trail as the final event, on October 13.

On Saturday June 17, from 12 noon to 5pm, Holmside Gardens in the centre of Holmfirth, will be the setting for a music festival garden party, promising a fun day out for all ages.

The Forces of Nature parade takes place on June 17, when communities across the Holme Valley help to create a magical, inclusive and exciting event, meandering around the streets of Holmfirth in a tradition harking back hundreds of years.

Sunday June 18 kicks off with the bells ringing out from Holmfirth Parish Church for the first time in 30 years, with a thriving band of ringers, young and old.

The recipient of this year’s Steve Sykes Commission is musician Ellie Ford, who will give a live performance featuring harp, vocals and electronics on the banks of the River Holme.

Jenny Eclair

Further commissions include Dark Horse Theatre with To Be Us, From Industry to Culture photo exhibition by U3A Digital Photography Group and FreeFall, a new vertical aerial dance piece from Urban Angels based on the myth of Icarus.

The Art in the Landscape art trail will also be open to view at Earthworks New Mill Community Garden.

Festival director Bev added: “Thanks to funding from Arts Council England, Heritage Lottery Fund, Kirklees Council, Kirklees Year of Music, Creative Minds, Holme Valley Parish Council, One Community and Jimmy Dickinson of Longley Farm, we have been able to invite top quality, diverse, local, national and international artists to respond to the topic of the landscape and environment.

“The programme offers something for everyone. We are excited to welcome all to Holmfirth over the next six months and are particularly pleased to have Jo Rose Brewerton on board, as Access and Inclusion Liaison, who will help people with their access needs.”

To find out more and book tickets, visit