THE annual arts extravaganza for the Dales is set on expanding its horizons this month.
For while Grassington Festival will still bring top-class music and comedy acts and inspiring speakers to its Upper Wharfedale spiritual home when it kicks off on Friday, June 13, the entertainment is spilling over to appeal to other senses - and other parts of Craven.
Having food at the festival is not entirely new, but organisers are hoping to stimulate the tastebuds afresh with this year's offering.
On Sunday, June 15, the farmers' market with a festival twist will run from 9.30am to 3.30pm in Grassington village square. Expect demonstrations, discussions and celebrations of the depth and wealth of Yorkshire produce.
As well as the stalls of the regular Northern Dales Farmers' Market there will be offerings from Relish, Kilnsey Park Estate, Andy Swinscoe of the Courtyard Dairy, Town End Farm Shop - home of Yorkshire Chorizo - and Amaali Kashmiri food in Skipton.
Demonstrations will be staged by chefs and culinary experts, including John Rudden of Grassington House; Matthew Wilkinson of Rudding Park; Stephanie Moon, who trained at Craven College, is a former Rudding Park chef and has appeared in TV shows Great British Menu and All Things Food; Steve and Wes Bond of Bean Loved, Skipton’s first independent speciality coffee bar; and Yesmien from Amaali, who will be doing a demo for adults and then chapatti making with children.
The marquee is also returning for a second year, transforming the square into an all-weather haven for the festival fortnight, supported by Cottages4You.
There are two further events for festival-going foodies: A ‘Summer Catch & Cook’ masterclass at Kilnsey Park Estate and ‘Wild Food Foraging’ at Grassington House.
On the same day as the market in the square the festival will be blazing a trail across the moors to Settle, where actress Helen Fraser will be tracing her 55-year-long career at the Victoria Hall at 7.30pm.
Favourite roles include Barbara in the film of Billy Liar shot in Bradford; Sylvia Hollamby, the prison officer from hell in eight series of Bad Girls; two different appearances in Coronation Street and a wonderful Christmas special of the Royle Family.
Helen has twice appeared in productions at the Royal National Theatre with Dames Judi Dench and Maggie Smith. Delighted to be back in the north of England, she was born in Oldham and many of her family live in the Settle area. The show will be a special celebration as her birthday falls on Sunday, June 15.
Amid the musical highlights is former Rolling Stone Bill Wyman and his big band, The Rhythm Kings, who play the festival marquee on Wednesday, June 25.
And Heather Small, of M People fame,
Swapping comedy for music is Adrian Edmondson, who will appear with his group The Bad Shepherds at the town hall on Saturday, June 14.
One act expected to stick to the comedy is Omid Djalili, who is back on tour following a sell-out four-week West-End residency, and a sold-out season at the Edinburgh Festival.
Known for successfully pushing a few boundaries with his humour, he will play on Monday, June 23, in the marquee.
One of the most unusual speakers at the festival is Sean Conway, an “endurance adventurer” who takes pleasure in mentally and physically pushing himself way beyond what was thought possible. He recently became the first person in history to swim the length of Britain despite being told he’d die trying. He will share his gripping stories at the festival, where he will also talk about setting your goals high, challenging yourself and overcoming tough times.
He says: “I’m currently training to run the length of Britain. I have previously cycled from Lands End to John O’Groats in 2007 and with the swim last year and the run this year I will complete the world’s first ever length of Britain triathlon I’m doing it self-supported which should be fun too, it should take me around 40 days running 35 miles per day and I can’t wait to get back out there.”
Sean Conway is at the town hall on Monday, June 23.
Also sure to be an inspirational speaker is Kate Adie, the former BBC journalist who is known for her role on BBC News, during which she reported from crisis zones all over the world, including the Gulf War, the former Yugoslavia, Albania, Rwanda, China and Sierra Leone.
She was even shot on one of her first assignments, reporting from the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989.
Now retired from the news, Kate has been focusing on her career as an author and comes to Grassington Festival this year following the release of her latest book, Fighting on the Home Front, to talk about the behind-the-scenes heroines of the First World War.
Meanwhile, a printing party is coming to Grassington in the shape of an artist-led print workshop space, and everyday the public are invited to “think while you ink”. They can drop in and explore the hands-on print process, ink up plates, and use early Victorian presses, set type, cut lino, collagraph amongst much more.
Daily themes will help inspire new words and stories such as local dialect, rhyming slang, fathers’ day and superheroes.
The print space, located inside the town hall is open weekdays from 11am to 5pm and weekends noon to 4pm for everybody, with a designated weekday time 3.30pm to 5pm for younger people wanting to come after school.
Other workshops include adult day workshops on June 17 and 19t and on Saturday, June 21, there will be a free family drop-in workshop attempting to create the longest line of printed alphabet letters ever made from noon to 4pm.
As ever, the Grassington Festival truly does have something for everyone.