Ashbourne Arts Festival

Ashbourne Arts Festival transforms the town during the summer into a hive of creativity when the famous arts festival takes place. It is a two-week festival during June and July each year and it continues to grow in stature, now attracting support from major funders and internationally known performers, who arrive in truckloads to this charming rural area.

Ashbourne High Street

Once only supporting approximately 30 separate events, Ashbourne arts Festival has grown and grow and now includes all areas of artistic activity such as dance, classical music and jazz, street theatre and visual art as well as jugglers, circus performers, folk and rock bands. For those classically minded, there are choral concerts and much more besides.

The Ashbourne Arts steering group came together due to the enthusiasm of the members of the Ashbourne Youth and Adult Community Centre Management Committee, as well as pressure from local artists, craftspeople and people from the communities surrounding the Ashbourne area. They all felt this market town situated at the southern end of the beautiful Derbyshire Dales, well known locally as the Gateway to Dovedale, needed attractions for tourists, but also help for the potentially isolated local communities of the Staffordshire moorlands and East Staffordshire.

The committee represent a diverse range of talented people themselves, but they all have the same desire to see art and culture in the area flourish, primarily through the annual festival, which aims to encourage community spirit and interest from the local population and visitors. Its original members and directors are largely unchanged today and they still perform their roles in a voluntary capacity which is a truly unique situation for a festival this size within the East Midlands.

Ashbourne Arts and Ashbourne Festival celebrated their 10th anniversary in 2009 and the company was granted charitable status in 2007, its primary function to organise the two week-long festival during June and July every year. This year it followed Diamond Jubilee celebrations and embraced the excitement of the Olympic torch as it passed through the town on its way to London for the opening of the July 2012 games.

The Streetfest Weekend is a sight to behold with world class street performers wowing crowds with living statues, snake charmer is, belly dancers, magicians and comedians as well as performers undertaking the most unusual acts and making the impossible become reality, with the death-defying fire eaters, and the surreal contortionists.

Ashbourne Square

It’s estimated that now the festival pumps over a £100,00 into the town’s economy and a recent study has revealed it attracted an astonishing 19,000 strong audience who attended the event during the fortnight with around 13,000 enjoying the international Streetfest weekend alone. It helps the businesses and market traders who are struggling during the recession, but also adds such a wonderful addition to any holidaymakers who are fortunate to be holidaying up here in this most wonderful part of the Peak District.

Tickets can be booked at Ashbourne tourist information centre for nearly all events but tickets for larger events can be booked online. Why not try your hand at entering the young poets competition or sign up for one of the heritage guided walks around Ashbourne, which takes place at all times of the year not just when the festival is on?

It really is worth putting these dates in your diary for next year if you are going to be around the area because once you have been to Ashbourne, and experienced the community spirit and wonderful character of the place, you will want to come back time and time again.