It began as an event to showcase Holme Valley talent and in just seven years has grown into a major 11-day celebration of all the arts.

Holmfirth Arts Festival, brainchild of the Rev Keith Griffin, vicar of Holmfirth Parish Church, is now an established annual exploration of theatre, comedy, art, music and literature.

The 2014 festival, launched yesterday, promises a larger-than-ever programme, with quite literally something for all the family.

From sculpture trails in the woods, a stage adaptation of Michael Morpurgo’s I Believe in Unicorns and an outdoor musical performance by 101 cyclists, the organisers have not forgotten the importance of fostering an appreciation of the arts among the young, or the fact that art can be exciting and inspirational to all ages.

As well as marking the Grand Depart of the Tour de France, the festival is commemorating the 70th anniversary of the great Holmfirth floods.

Festival director Fiona Goh explained: “Our exhibitions, walks and talks will explore Holmfirth’s vital connections with water, as well as marking the anniversary of the 1944 floods, which did so much damage to the town.

“We have two very different commissions, by local artists John Holt and Fabric Lenny, which will encourage us to look at the river afresh as well as guided walks telling the human stories behind both the 1852 and 1944 floods.”

The festival will also feature an exhibition on the theme by Holmfirth photographer Harry Bray and a showing of the Mike Wade film A Wall of Water, which features the oral histories of flood survivors and their families.

This afternoon the Tutti Frutti theatre company celebrates the bond between a grandmother and a little girl with its production of Monday’s Child at Holmfirth Methodist Church, aimed at four to seven-year-olds. While on Monday the Morpurgo tale of a young boy who hates reading but whose world is turned upside down when he meets the Unicorn Lady, can be seen at Holmfirth Methodist Church.

Tomorrow, for those with younger children, there is a SCRAPtastic workshop at Holy Trinity Church, encouraging participants to use their imagination to create art from recycled and found materials.

Into the Woods, a family event at Holmfirth Arts Festival, will provide activities for all ages in a woodland setting
Into the Woods, a family event at Holmfirth Arts Festival, will provide activities for all ages in a woodland setting
 

Next weekend, the festival is organising an afternoon of scavenger hunts, wood crafts and clay modelling at Barnaby’s Nursery, Sheffield Road, and teenagers are invited to meet writers Annabel Pitcher, a Holme Valley resident and author of Ketchup Clouds, and former Huddersfield resident Wendy Constance, author of the prehistoric thriller Brave, who will both be at the Phoenix Centre.

The highlight this Sunday, June 15, is an avant garde musical performance involving 101 cyclists, who will whistle, ring their bells and sing as they travel around Holmfirth.

Eine Brise by Mauricio Kagel, is performed all over Europe, often to coincide with sporting events. In this case, it will be an early celebration of Yorkshire’s part in this year’s Tour de France.

Music lovers will also be delighted to learn that the festival has booked concerts by solo cellist Matthew Barley; virtuoso flautist Katherine Bryan; and jazz clarinettist Arun Ghosh.

The festival finale on Sunday, June 22, includes a foot-stomping performance by the Hackney Colliery Band.

And those who want a laugh will find it in comedy shows by Jedward-haired Russell Kane and award-winning actor George Telfer, who is arriving with his one-man show about the life of Monty Python funny man Graham Chapman – doctor, mountaineer, alcoholic and pioneering gay icon.

The organisers of this year’s festival have chosen the swallow as the symbol for the event.

Marketing manager Sally Brown explained: “Swallows arrive every summer and come back every year, like the festival”.

The logo will invite visitors to ‘follow the swallow’.

Some events are ticketed but many are free.

Hackney Colliery Band, appearing at the Holmfirth Arts Festival 2014
 

For further details check out www.holmfirthartsfestival.co.uk or call at Holmfirth Tourist Information Centre, 01484 222444.

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