Seven festivals you won’t want to miss in September

Sarruga Dragons, appearing at Derby Feste

Sarruga Dragons, appearing at Derby Feste - Credit: Archant

Make sure you have these dates in your diary

Melbourne Festival

Melbourne Festival - Credit: Archant

Melbourne Festival: 3rd September-15th October

A cultural pot-pourri of arts, crafts, music and theatre, laced with poetry, comedy, magic and storytelling, Melbourne Festival offers visitors to this idyllic South Derbyshire town something new and exciting each year – and 2016 is no different.

The ever-popular Art and Architecture Trail will be held on 17th and 18th September whilst a varied programme of concerts will run for six weeks until mid-October. This year’s Trail features over 120 artists in nearly 70 venues including homes, businesses, churches and halls across the town, showcasing a mix of media and styles. Inspired by the ‘Wild Wood’ theme which celebrates Melbourne’s position on the edge of the National Forest, Melbourne Assembly Rooms will host 15 East Midlands artists who will be creating woodland-inspired art. Those to look out for include Jane Bevan who will be exhibiting her woodland vessels, wildlife sculptor Lynn Hazel and local artists Victoria Brown and Michael Cook. Elsewhere will be exhibitions from artists Sue Heale and Helen Hallows, and woodworker Peter Woods.

Sculpture also plays a prominent role in this year’s Trail. Blacksmith David Turner will be exhibiting alongside Spencer Jenkins at The Hermitage; Nita Rao will be showcasing willow pieces with stone carver Ross Danby at the Dower House; and Roger Davies is displaying his stunning metal sculptures of stags and other wildlife on the lawn at The Stone House, to name just a few.

There will also be the chance to sample local produce at the Food Festival, Food Court and in the Art Café, or at the many great venues nearby; enjoy live music at the Busk Stops; listen to pop-up poet Dwane Reads; and hear instalments from The Wind in the Willows at Story Stops. Younger visitors – and the young at heart – can follow Toad’s Trail to track down Toad, Badger, Ratty and Mole around the town. Highlights of the varied performance programme include a Comedy Night with Andrew Bird, Ivan Brackenbury and Jo D’arcy, compèred by Garrett Millerick; ‘Boleyn: The Death and Life of a Queen’, a theatre performance guaranteed to keep viewers on the edge of their seats; a performance from eight-piece a cappella vocal ensemble Ocho; and jazz from the renowned Gascoyne O’Higgins Quartet.

Lantern Procession at New Mills Festival

Lantern Procession at New Mills Festival - Credit: Archant

New Mills Festival: 9th-25th September

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New Mills will once again play host to an extravaganza of events culminating in a magical lantern parade when the annual arts festival returns. Under the theme of ‘inventions’, there will be plenty of opportunities to get creative, learn new skills or simply enjoy great entertainment. On 10th September, singer Lucy Spraggan will kick things off in style when she brings her unique acoustic storytelling to the iconic New Mills Art Theatre.

The Arts Trail will see work from over 150 artists displayed around the town. Fresh from Banksy’s ‘Dismaland’, Jimmy Cauty’s ‘Aftermath Dislocation Principal’ will form part of the trail, whilst the Art Trail Big Weekend on 23rd-25th September will see venues across the town open their doors to host pop-up exhibitions, open studios, workshops, demonstrations and arts and crafts markets.

With something for everyone, the main festival includes over 50 events: try your hand as an inventor with Ian Russell and his Exploding Custard experiments, track down a secret location for an evening of storytelling, get constructive with cakes and pop-up laboratories or help fill High Lea Park with bubbles. Relax with a Swedish massage, get your boots muddy touring the town’s bridges and hunting for mushrooms, or listen to poetry, opera or rock and roll music. The Festival culminates in a magical lantern parade on 24th September, when The Torrs will be filled with fire performers, drummers and lantern sculptures as visitors form a procession through the valley, before a street party with entertainment and food from all corners of the globe. Bringing the festival to a close on the 25th is Patch and the Giant, who will fill the Town Hall with their alternative folk music, providing an evening of music, ales and dancing. For full details visit

Mugenkyo Taiko Drummers, Wirksworth Festival

Mugenkyo Taiko Drummers, Wirksworth Festival - Credit: Archant

Wirksworth Festival: 9th-25th September

Each year Wirksworth is transformed into a magnificent venue for the visual arts, offering visitors the chance to view and purchase work from over a hundred artists whilst enjoying music, dance, drama and song from local and international performers. One of the festival’s greatest annual highlights, the Art and Architecture Trail on 10th and 11th September will see the work of over 100 artists displayed in a variety of venues throughout the town, including homes, buildings, shops, churches and open spaces. Art-lovers should also make a bee-line for the Parish Room, where this year’s curated exhibition ‘Nature: Here and Now’ will be on display, alongside the fantastic Graduate Showcase and Oblique Cartographies – a downloadable app with a series of sound walks around Wirksworth.

To commemorate WWI, and to coincide with a new locally-made film When T’owd Man Faced T’Kaiser, shop windows will be displaying local war-time photographs. The pièce de résistance will be a stunning installation by Wolfgang Buttress in St Mary’s Church, inspired by his award-winning work, The Hive, currently on view at Kew Gardens.

New for 2016, the Altitude Youth Music and Arts Festival on 18th September will showcase young local talent (contact the Festival Office to take part). The varied performance programme includes music, song, dance and theatre, with appearances from pianist Mark Lockett, tenor Richard Roddis, dance theatre from INdependDANCE and a thrilling performance from the dramatic Japanese drummers, Mugenkyo Taiko. Theatre Témoin will be taking to the stage with their combination of mask, puppetry and physical theatre whilst Sleeping Trees Theatre will bring their comic physicality to the world of Sci-Fi movies. Other highlights include spoken word from author Kate Hardy, storytelling from Adverse Camber and two comedy nights headlined by the sharply perceptive Shazia Mirza, rising star Holly Burn and local talent Hattie Hatstar. The Fringe includes an eclectic mix of street theatre, outdoor film screenings, classical music, workshops and family fun. Community always plays a huge part in the Festival and this year’s proceedings will again be brought to a spectacular closure during the annual celebration at Stoney Wood, where visitors are invited to take part in making a collaborative art project. Tickets available at and at Traid Links, the Festival Box Office on 01629 824393.

Transe Express - Spectacle Mu, part of Derby Feste Photo: Juan Robert

Transe Express - Spectacle Mu, part of Derby Feste Photo: Juan Robert - Credit: Archant

Derby Feste: 23rd-24th September

The tenth annual Derby Festé will light up the city centre in September with a packed programme of spectacular family entertainment, featuring a host of top local, national and international artists and performers. The fun starts on Friday evening with a performance of ‘Carousel’ by the Southpaw Dance Company on Cathedral Green, featuring a fully functioning merry-go-round that acts as a centre piece for an edgy story on the fairground’s inhabitants.

The headline act on Friday evening will be the return of the giant fire-breathing Sarruga Dragons that took the city by storm at the first Festé in 2007. The giant robotic creatures, created by world-famous Catalonian street-arts company Sarruga, will begin a breathtaking parade at Derby Riverlights, winding their way through St Peters Quarter and the Cathedral Quarter before making a spectacular entrance in the Market Place. From 9.45pm, the Market Place will be transformed into a party space with live performances from the New York Brass Band and Alex Blood and the Diggers. Throughout the evening the popular Night Market will also be open for business, offering an eclectic mix of food, drink and vintage crafts for visitors to enjoy.

On Saturday the Cathedral Quarter, St Peters Quarter and Intu Derby shopping centre will become a bustling hub of street entertainment featuring more than 20 acts including dance, aerial performance, theatre, comedy and contemporary circus. The People’s Stage in the Market Place will host live music and a special commission of ‘Tarzanna’ by Ilkeston-born aerial artist Ria Ashcroft, whilst the Gramophones Theatre Company will make its debut performance at Derby Riverlights St Peters Quarter. On Saturday evening the festival climax will see Bass’ Recreation Ground turn into an underwater spectacle. French company Transe Express will present its brand new outdoor performance ‘MÚ’ – an atmospheric show where neon sea creatures elevated on a huge telescopic crane cavort with fish and other ocean dwellers as they weave their way through the audience. MÚ is Derby Festé’s only ticket event. Tickets are available online or via the Derby LIVE Box Office All other performances are free of charge. Full details can be found at

Emma Bridgewater will be at Chatsworth's Art Out Loud Festival

Emma Bridgewater will be at Chatsworth's Art Out Loud Festival - Credit: Archant

Art Out Loud: 23rd-25th September

Following the success of 2015’s inaugural event, Art Out Loud returns to Chatsworth with an exciting new line-up of over 20 speakers – including artists, curators and writers – with a connection to the art world. This year’s event will also include a special exhibition to mark 25 years of the Peak District Artisans collective. Tickets and details: Speakers on 23rd: Jenny Saville; Duke of Devonshire; Deyan Sudjic; Emma Bridgewater and Matthew Rice; Peter Frankopan

Speakers on 24th: Sir Roy Strong and Dr Nicholas Cullinan; Amanda Levete; Maggi Hambling; Maria Balshaw; Edmund de Waal; Simon Thurley; Dan Pearson; Anna Keay

Speakers on 25th: Martin Brown; Dr Nicholas Cullinan and Per Rumberg; Julia Peyton Jones; Jonathan Warrender; Hugo Vickers; Alison Oddey and Chris White

The Green Man, Derbyshire Woodland Festival

The Green Man, Derbyshire Woodland Festival - Credit: Archant

Woodland Festival: 24th-25th September

Derbyshire County Council’s popular annual Woodland Festival takes place at Elvaston Castle Country Park near Derby.

Now in its 16th year, the Festival includes displays of fire lighting, survival skills, pole lathe turning, chair making and willow weaving, plus songs and stories, children’s activities, delicious food, bespoke gifts, plants and an array of stalls.

Visitors can watch expert craftspeople at work and have a go themselves. There is also the chance to explore the woodland, gardens, lake and parkland that surround the Castle. Visit or call 01629 533870

Derby Folk Festival: 30th Sept-2nd Oct

The 10th Derby Folk Festival returns to the City Marquee on the Market Place, the Guildhall Theatre, The Old Bell Hotel and Derby Cathedral. As well as ticketed concerts and events, there will be dance displays throughout the streets, and free music performances during Saturday and Sunday. The festival is a who’s who of folk including: Fairport Convention, The Demon Barbers, The Young’uns, Heidi Talbot, 9Bach, John McCusker, Sally Barker, Belshazzar’s Feast, Josienne Clarke & Ben Walker and many more. Visit