Bigger than ever, Wirksworth gets ready for a jam-packed 2017 Festival

A specially commissioned pavilion, multimedia music, award-winning contemporary folk, spellbinding storytelling, Gothic drama, and visual art of every shape and size are just some of the highlights at this year’s Wirksworth Festival, 8 - 24 September.

Now in it’s 23rd year, the Festival kicks off with the highly acclaimed Art & Architecture Trail weekend, 9 - 10 September, when many of the town’s homes, gardens, courtyards, shop windows and public spaces become galleries exhibiting the work of over 140 artists and designer-makers. This is an opportunity for people to see and buy a wide range of contemporary art and to meet the artists too. 

Visitors will be able to see work from both local artists and those from further afield. Pop-art collage, wire installations, mixed media wall pieces, ceramics, photography, interior textiles, jewellery, sculpture, illustration and painting are just some of the types of work that will be on show.  

Previous year’s artists have included Wolfgang Buttress (known for works such as The Hive), ceramic artist Paul Cummins (Seas of Red installation at the Tower of London and touring) and willow sculptor Laura Ellen Bacon (recent finalist for the Women’s Hour Craft Council Prize).  

A first for this year is the construction of a contemporary Pavilion in the Community Square to be erected for the Trail weekend only. The Pavilion has been specially designed for the Festival by four architecture students from Nottingham Trent University as part of a competition. Students Daniel Shefford, Daniel Liew, Christopher Bennett and Scott Pavitt answered the brief to design and build a structure to delight, to be truly in context, to be able to be occupied comfortably for one night, and constructed within a £600 budget.

The Trail weekend also features a whole heady mix of live music from MusicWirks, street theatre from St.John’s Street Theatre Company, workshops, a heritage market featuring a range of craft skill demonstrations, together with food and refreshments. The weekend rounds off with the much-loved Gig on the Roof, which forms part of the Festival Fringe, the Roots Festival. 

Tickets for the Art & Architecture Trail weekend are £7 each (under 18s free) and can be bought on the day at the main information point and other locations across the town. 

Veneer, this year’s Curated Exhibition, supported by Arts Council England, has been put together by Louisa Chambers and Emily Strange, both artists and researchers based at Nottingham Trent University. The exhibition brings together a group of diverse artists from around the country whose practices play with themes of domesticity, display and concealment, and architectural space. 

Working alongside Louisa and Emily will be artists Craig Fisher, Conor Hereford, Demi Levi, Tessa Lynch, Laura McCafferty, Zoe Mendelson, David Penny, Gabriel Tejada and Ian Whitfield.

Veneer can be seen in the Parish Room 9,10, 16 and 17 September. 

The Festival continues for the rest of the fortnight with a full programme of music, dance, spoken word, and theatre presented by Town Hall Events with Learning Through Arts in partnership with Wirksworth Festival. 

Acts this year include contemporary folk’s latest stars Grace Petrie and Hannah James; local musician Brian Boothby with co-stars Chris Ellis, Adam Summerhayes and Dave Strut showcasing Brian’s news album Firegazing; Adverse Camber touring their spellbinding new storytelling and music performance Dreaming the Night Field; Manchester quintet Kabantu; poems and songs from Psychicbread; late night jazz with Soul Deep; the experimental Preternatural from The Moulettes; Macka.B with The Teacher; and a dance double-bill from the Secret Dance Club and the Sonia Sabri Dance Company. There’s also dramatic delights from The Northumberland Theatre Company and their performance of Barnaby Rudge alongside Hillsiders, Wirksworth’s answer to The Archers

For young people and families poet and performer Mark Gwynne Jones presents his new show Wordworms, along with a special early evening slot at the DJ and Dance Club Night, plus the launch of the Wirksworth Youth Theatre. 

The full programme is available at where tickets for most performances can be booked. Tickets are also available from the Festival Box Office at Traid Links in Wirksworth. Early bird prices for most performances are available until 8 September.

If that’s not enough, Wirksworth Roots Festival - the Festival Fringe - has a great line up of craft workshops, events and performances such as The Souler Shack, Derby Chamber Orchestra, Nottingham Chamber Wind Ensemble, Lockstock 2017 and the Wirksworth Horticultural Show. And the Youth Arts and Performance Festival, Altitude, on 17 September is a chance for young people to show off their talents. 

This busy fortnight comes to a close with the Festival Community Celebration on Sunday 24 September, with events through the day and concluding with a ceilidh, suitable for all the family. 

Wirksworth Festival is a charity and grateful to the support of its sponsors Technolog and Scargill Mann along with the support with many others. 

For more information, tickets and updates visit and folllow the Festival on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. 

Back to news