Artist Update: Alexander Wells

Alexander Wells

Heptonstall festival Master of Ceremonies and resident wizard, Alexander Wells,  presents classical conjuring from the golden age of magic and theatre – “Charming, intelligent, skilful and witty – Keith savage, Buxton Fringe” – 
Discover more here.


Artist Update: Hebden Bridge Hill Millies

It wouldn’t be the festival without this bunch – so we’re really pleased that they’ll be dancing for us again this year.


The Hebden Bridge Hill Millies are a Women’s Morris Dancing side based in Hebden Bridge, dancing in the Cotswold tradition infused with their own special magic. Accompanied by 4 fantastic fiddlers. They can sometimes be seen in Nora Batty disguise!

Artist Upate: Le Neon Noir

Inspired by the retro-futurism of 1980’s sci-fi, the dark, dystopian worlds of Blade Runner, Max Headroom, Tron and William Gibson’s novel Neuromancer, credited by many as the origin of the cyberpunk genre.


In 2014 work began on Le Néon Noir’s debut EP, featuring HARUKO’s first appearance as a credited performer, as well as guitarist J. W. Greenwood, drummer Carl Banks and, for live programming and synthesisers, Jim Atkinson.

This year they join us for the Heptonstall Festival..


Festival Update: Best Dressed Window Competition

The Actual Wizard of Oz will be looking for the Best Dressed Window in Heptonstall with the theme of “somewhere over the rainbow”.
Do your best between now and festival day, and post the pictures on our Facebook page for a chance to win with a prize to be presented by The Wizard Himself on festival day!
click here to visit our facbook page

Artist Update: Tiny Minds


We’re really excited to welcome local band The Tiny Minds to the festival bill this year.

The Tiny Minds are a 3 piece band from Hebden Bridge, whose folk, blues and psychedelia soaked pop reflect their tranquil and unique surroundings.

Described by DNA festival as ‘dreamy pop rock’, with ‘influential swoon’…

Artist Update: The Lottery Winners

Lottery Winners

“Born in Salford and raised on romance, The Lottery Winners can be found at the exact midpoint between the North West’s dual musical Meccas of Manchester and Liverpool. Though Liverpool and Manchester have claimed many a legendary artist as their own, more often than not they hailed from somewhere betwixt the two, somewhere beneath Blake’s ‘dark satanic mills’, somewhere in Lancashire, somewhere called Leigh. The birthplace of Georgie Fame and the Buzzcocks’ Pete Shelley, Leigh has done it again, spawning the best live band to emerge from the North-West in a generation:The Lottery Winners.”

We’re fantastically excited to be able to announce that The Lottery Winners will be joining the bill for a headline set at Heptonstall Festival this year. If you haven’t managed to catch these guys yet, you’re in for a real treat as this indie- pop quartet blend momentous melodies with wistful and insightful lyrics.

“The songs are the most important thing in the world to me, if they’re ever even a tiny fraction as important to other people, I’ll die a very happy man.” Thomas Rylance, frontman and songwriter.

Although the band have played extensively live, supporting the likes of The Futureheads, Jamie Cullum, The Charlatans and The Enemy, building up a loyal family of fans in the process, they’ve kept studio releases to a minimum. A very limited edition debut EP, Somebody Loved You, was released in April 2013 and those lucky enough to get their hands on a copy were rewarded with five nuggets of perfectly formed singalong gold, every lyric and guitar hook lovingly crafted with microscopic precision.

Have a listen for yourself:

Lottery Winners2

Artist Update: Featherteeth


Local duo Featherteeth are added to the bill for the Heptonstall festival this year, bringing their unique blend of avant-garde psychedelic rock to the festival line-up.


Brothers, Daz and Rew Brown, began playing in bands together in the early 90s starting with Heywood based death metal band Eternal Fear.  Then, with a change in direction, towards avant-garde psychedelic rock, went on to be in another four bands together;  Mr Lucky Bags, who experimented with tape loops and samples, ambient wild-track and found sounds along with guitar, vocals, bass and drums. Phorm, who were a Bristol based three piece consisting of guitar, vocals, bass and drums.  Egg Tent, which included flute and saxophone. As well as Cookie Cutter who incorporated an electronic/dance element.  One thing which remained consistent throughout each incarnation of the band was the unique sound that the Brown brothers had been constantly developing over twenty years.  So when Cookie Cutter split up, the decision was made to continue as a two piece utilising and experimenting with looping and guitar synth technology, and Featherteeth was born.

featherfur copy

Check them out here:

Artist Update: Neil Bob Herd

We’re really excited to announce of of the headline acts for the festival this year, Neal Bob Herd.

A founder member of the Alt.Bluegrass outfit The Coal Porters, NBH is also one of their principal songwriters. As a solo performer, he’s been called a “Scots Billy Bragg” literate, witty and barbed by turns. Proclaiming it vocally, with guitar rich in twang & tremolo, and a wry, dry way between the songs, he’s an all-rounder with real emotional depth in his writing, plus a well-developed sense of fun.

Neil Bob Herd and Friend

Neil Bob Herd and Friend

“Herd’s “Farmers’ Hands” nearly steals the show” No Depression

“Fine Original Compositions” Properganda

New EP “Unsolicited Recordings” available now



This year’s Heptonstall Festival will take place on Saturday 20 September and will build on the tremendous success that was the 2013 festival. There will again be two stages (on Weaver Square and in the old church ruins) along with the fun-filled morning children’s parade and an evening’s classical concert. This year’s theme is The Wizard of Oz, so dig out those red shoes and remember – there’s no place like home! Continue reading

Heptonstall Festival in Pictures

red queen 1Were you caught on camera? Check out the beautiful pictures taken by Rory Prior on Flickr, with more pictures of the procession and children’s events in the ruins by Amy Binns.

All Amy’s pictures are free to download, print and share for personal and non-commercial use.

If you took some pictures of the day, why not add them to the Flickr Heptonstall pool and share them with us all?

procession 1

Heptonstall Festival on Film

If you’re already missing the festival, relive the fun in these videos.

Hebden Bridge Times’ video includes an impressive performance from Heptonstall’s Class Four. Gremlins are preventing us from displaying it here but you can see it on their website. Full coverage will be in next week’s paper.

Traditional dancing from the Hill Millies, complete with scarves and pinnies, can be seen here:

Luke Concannon performs Give It All from his new album in Weavers Square:

And who could forget headliners Nizlopi performing here

A Range of Beautiful Mouth Watering Stalls at Heptonstall Festival

This year at Heptonstall Festival we have an exciting selection of local arts and crafts of all descriptions – felt, clay, vinyl print, steam punk accessories, knitting, wood work and ironmongery.

There will be Alice in Wonderland themed keepsakes from both the blacksmith and clay artists to honour the Wonderful parade.

We have a diverse selection of international food – Thai, French and Italian from local food artisans and good hearty local favourites plus cakes to die for from our very own Mabel and Craggs Cake’s.

For drink why not try the best of local ale with Little Valley and Bridestones breweries wholeheartedly supporting our event with local cider to boot!

Stalls will be across St Thomas church ruins and Weaver’s Square.

There’s just too much to miss!


Heptonstall Festival : Street Closure and Bus Diversion

Heptonstall Festival will be taking place all day on Saturday (21 September).  For reasons of safety (especially child safety), the main village street will be closed between the school carpark and the post office between 9.30am and 6.30pm.  The road will be blocked by marshalled straw bales.

If possible, it would be appreciated if no one drove down the street between these hours, but people with off-street parking will be able to have access except at the time of the children’s parade in the morning.

There should be no access between Townfield Lane/Church Street and Northgate, please.

Buses E. 906 and 517 will be diverted via Lee Wood Road and Draper Lane. Route 591 will not be affected.

The festival organisers apologise for the inconvenience involved, but we hope that all villagers and visitors alike will think the disruption is worth it.

Heptonstall Festival 2013 – Event Details….

Saturday 21 September 2013 – Morning and Lunchtime Events 


Saturday 21 September from 10.30am

Alice, Mad Hatter and Mr Bloom

Heptonstall Festival this year has a major emphasis on children, families and the community.  As the village has emerged from months under the tyranny of heavy vehicles thundering through, September 21 will be a traffic-free day of make believe and fun.

The whole morning and lunchtime will be themed around Alice in Wonderland.  Villagers and visitors alike can join the Queen of Hearts’ barmy army.  It will be time to get lost in Lewis Carroll’s topsy turvy tale of doors too small for keys too big, ‘Drink me’ potions and Bread and Butterflies.  Who do we know who grins like the Cheshire Cat or is as illusive as the White Rabbit?  Which neighbour is as eccentric as the Mad Hatter or as fiery as the Red Queen?  Which children and which parents will be what, and who will the Queen’s Card Guards be?

The barmy army and camp followers will gather at Heptonstall School at 10.30 to be greeted by the Queen of Hearts, (local actress Ursula Holden Gill) and the White Rabbit (Sonia from Canopy Arts) together with the school’s Parent and Friends Association.  The Queen will give her Card Guards a final warming up prior to their long march.  A Mad Hatter (Sydney Roper) will no doubt make a nuisance of himself.

Then, led by the Red Rose New Orleans Band from Preston, the Queen will march her barmy army through the village streets to finish up in the old church ruins.  Once the army enters, the stalls will open, the giant bluebells will be hung and the fun begins.  The Queen and her entourage will hand on the giant teapot and cups to CBeebies’ Mr Bloom, who will open the proceedings and unveil all manner of treats for us all – music, dancing and an awful lot of homemade cakes!  The children will perform the composition they have created during the previous week.

Everyone should come with blankets and baskets filled with goodies for a Mad Hatters Tea Party (which, being in Wonderland, will be at lunchtime!).  The Red Rose band will hand over to Tim O’Connor and Des Horsfall from the musical melting pot of Manchester, who will entertain the tea party and carry us through into the afternoon.

The Heptonstall Wonderland will not have started on 21 September.  For many days before, festival teams will have been working with the children, their families and teachers in both Colden and Heptonstall Schools to make the dreams come true.

In Heptonstall School, the whole curriculum in the week before the festival will have been devoted to music, design and costume making.  In Colden School, this will have happened at drop-in sessions at the after-school club.  A festival arts team of Mimi Faulks, Jo Harris, Chrissy from Hat Therapy and Mel Daniels, the Dramasaurus teacher, will have worked with the children to make all their wonderful Wonderland costumes.  Romily Meredith will have helped with the giant teapot and teacup;  and Sandra McCracken will have assisted the making of giant willow bluebells.

Ursula Holden Gill and Sonia from Canopy Arts will also have helped the children develop the drama and action for the day.  The Card Guards will have been drilled to perfection, and everyone will have warmed up for Wonderland and brushed up on their fun procession poses.  Composer Katie Chatburn will have helped the children compose the music that they would then perform on the day at the Mad Hatters Tea Party.

At Colden School, the festival team will have been joined by Jo Wells and parent Sarah Regan.

Village Bunting

A key part of the festival is the bunting.  Local people have been designing flags for “I Spy with my Little Eye” and creating images of distant views, like Stoodley Pike or Pecket Well, or close up, like a robin, a tree in the garden, members of the family, or Grandpa’s hands.  The flags will debut this year and will continue to grow and decorate local events for years to come.

So, dear reader, have you yet made your bunting.  If not, get to it, or it will be off with your heads!

Saturday 21 September 2013 – Afternoon Events


The afternoon at this year’s Heptonstall festival on Saturday 21 September will be a galaxy of a dozen or more bands performing on two stages, together with a local bawdy drama, magic, storytelling, dancing and much, much more.  The first stage will be in Weavers Square, as it has been in previous years.  But the second stage will be in the old church ruins of St Thomas a Beckett.  The ruins provide a highly atmospheric backdrop for drama and music.  In previous years, a Handel opera was performed there as part of Hebden Bridge Arts Festival and Sheffield University frequently performed Shakespeare plays.  But this is the first such use in the 21st century.  The festival committee is most grateful for the support of the vicar and churchwarden.

Music commences at 11.45 in the old church ruins, during the Mad Hatters Tea Party, with Tim O’Connor and Des Horsfall.  O’Connor is a charismatic performer creating a warm and dynamic atmosphere for the day.  With Irish roots, he grew up musically in the melting pot of Manchester.  His father played ukulele à la George Formby.  His influences include the Beatles, Dylan and Neil Young but he has found his own style.  Prior to Heptonstall he has played in festivals like Celtic Connections in Scotland, Roche sur Foron in France, Zamek in Poland, Oslo Irish and Boston Johnny D’s Club.

On the square, music starts at 12 noon with singer/songwriter Paul Weatherhead.  The exciting and eclectic programme throughout the day includes some nationally famous, some up and coming locals and young bands from the Royal Northern College and Leeds College of Music.

The main headline act, playing in the old church ruins at 5.55, is Nizlopi – John Parker (double base and human beatbox) and Luke Concannon (vocals, guitar and bodhrán), whose most successful JCB song reached number one in the UK on its second release. The band is named after an Hungarian girl whom Luke fancied at school. Described by Radio 1 as “Political, intense, angular and beautiful”, they play joyful stories, from heart cracked open love songs to their people power invocation ‘England Uprise!’.

The other headline act, playing at 5.05, is Taylor Jackson, Manchester born and bred soulstress, whose debut EP ‘Roots’ is available right now!  For over 10 years she has been writing, producing, recording and performing music with fellow artists and musicians. Her first solo project draws from her own experience, her love of soul music, and her degree in classical composition to produce something truly inspirational.

James Christy is a Pop Rock singer/songwriter from the north of England. After the success of James’s debut album “Man Made of Glass” James has moved on to bigger and better things. Over the last year James has formed a backing band around himself and they have been performing all over the country and have been recently selected to play on the Atom Live tour in October later this year.

James Paul on the other hand is an experienced, enthusiastic guitarist from Edinburgh and RNCM, looking to develop new ways of playing guitar and inducing new sounds to enhance everyday music, from jazz and hip hop to rock and funk, being as diverse as possible in a session.  Prior to Heptonstall, he has played at Edinburgh’s Usher Hall, Queen’s Hall and Traverse Theatre.

Other performers include bluegrass group from the hills of West Yorkshire, Cowbaby, playing Americana and acoustic, Jenni Doyle, Adonis, Bath-based singer/songwriter Ash Tucker, local singer Penny Stansfield,  close harmony singers from RNCM Three of Hearts and Heptonstall’s very own Chris Hancox All Star Experience.  There will also be bands in the White Lion.

Apart from music, there will be magic by the magnificent Alexander Wells, who will also be MC’ing, dance by the Hebden Bridge’s famous Hill Millies and a young Colden Morris group, clowns and a local bawdy drama, “Much Ado about Something” by Geoff Scott, about the exploits of some beer-loving and women chasing local lads. There will be both storytelling and song by Ursula Holden Gill.

Performances will finish at 7pm, in readiness for the candle-lit evening concert with David Owen Lewis, Margaret Bruce and Iyad Sughayer.

Food, Drink and Craft Stalls

There will we a wide feast of beer, wine, tea and food stalls and tents, and craft stalls of all types, on the square, in the churchyard and on Towngate.  The two local breweries, Bridestones and Little Valley, will each have a tent, Bridestones on the Square and Little Valley in the old church ruins.  The two village pubs, the White Lion and the Cross, and Towngate Tearoom will also be open all day, providing solid and liquid refreshment.

Towngate Tearooms, the village deli, will have a stall on the Square and the Proved Pizza Van will also be there.  In the ruins will be both Thai and French food stalls and a tea stall run by the church.  Come Dine with Me star, Heptonstall’s Jan Lymer, will also have a sweetie stall.

On the Square, there will be a vintage clothes tent, Richard Hemmingway’s Ironworks, BEAT (Blackshaw Environmental Action), HELP (Heptonstall Lights and Planting) and Nicola’s knitting stall.  In the old church ruins and the churchyard there will be facepainting, hula hooping, sand art and Andy Bell’s Strange Thing.  While on Towngate, there will be Blackbark Greenwood Working, Caroline’s church stall, Craggs Cakes and Helen Hought.

Something for everyone, Heptonstall’s flowering of cultural and social dynamic will a traffic-free day  –  a day of relief from eight months when the village was a traffic maelstrom while a landslip closed the by-pass.

Saturday 21 September 2013 – Evening Events


Saturday 21 September from 7.30pm

Victoria Sharp (Soprano); David Owen Lewis (Baritone); Margaret Bruce (Keyboard); Iyad Sughayer (Keyboard)

When the bands have stopped playing and the craft stalls packed away their produce, the atmosphere at Heptonstall Festival will change for an all-star candlelit evening concert under canvas in the ruins of the ancient St Thomas a Becket Church.

Very well known to concert-goers in and around the Calder Valley, baritone David Owen Lewis will be singing a programme of romantic arias, Neapolitan love songs and hits from the shows, together with international concert pianist, Margaret Bruce.

David Owen-Lewis was born in the Swansea Valley. He started singing at an early age and has never stopped. He studied at the National Welsh College of Music and Drama and his life has been one long adventure in music ever since. Having started his career at the end-of-the-pier and then being a member of Opera North for a quarter century, he always found time for oratorio, concerts, music-hall and cabaret, including several years with Pennine Spring Music in Heptonstall. He starred in the Handel opera performed in the old church ruins in 1998.

He now performs regularly with Margaret Bruce in Britain, France and Italy. But equally important to him is his work with Moodswings and Streetwise Opera in Manchester, sharing music with the homeless and people with bi-polar conditions, and also with Mind in Bradford.

Canadian born Margaret Bruce has had an entire repertoire of music written for her by composers as famous as Herbert Howells and Lennox Berkeley. Born on the Pacific Coast, she received a scholarship to Toronto’s Royal Conservatory in her mid teens. At 18 she came to the Royal College of Music in London and her British debut in 1968 was in Winchester Cathedral and Wigmore Hall. With Peter Gellhorn she established Canadians and Classics at St. Johns Smith Square.

She’s played Mozart at the Barbican with the Royal Philharmonic, Liszt in Slovakia, and varied recitals throughout North America and Europe. The Czech composer Tucapsky has written various work for her, including Tara’s Song for her young grand-daughter. Margaret has held many concerts over the years at her home at Walshaw Lodge and has performed at Pennine Spring. She now plays with David Owen Lewis across the UK and Europe.

19 year old Iyad Sughayer is a young virtuoso Jordanian/Palestinian pianist who studied at Chethams School in Manchester and is now at the Royal Northern College of Music, where he has just been runner-up in the International Concerto Competition. Playing since age of five, Iyad is no stranger to the international stage, having performed in the Middle East, Russia, UK and other countries in Europe. As well as a solo pianist, Iyad has played concertos with the European Chamber Orchestra, the Prague Youth Orchestra, Chetham’s Symphony Orchestra, Buxton Chamber Orchestra, Cairo Symphony Orchestra and Amman Symphony Orchestra. He has also been awarded 1st prizes in the Chetham’s Concerto Competition and the Chetham’s Beethoven Competition.

He is performing extensively particularly in the UK, his native Jordan and recently at the Madinat Jumeirah Theatre in Dubai and the Mashrek International School in Amman (under the patronage of HRH Princess Rym Ali). He has made a number of recent live recordings of Mozart (Adagio in B Minor and Piano Concerto no 18) and Chopin (Nocturne No 1). He played stunningly at this year’s Pennine Spring Music in Heptonstall, where he was the star of the week.

Victoria Sharp is a leading soprano with the Opera North chorus, of which she has been a member for 25 years. She is currently performing nationwide as the Lady in Waiting in Verdi’s Macbeth, as Ninetta in Prokofiev’s The Love for Three Oranges and in Britten’s Peter Grimes. Her past roles for Opera North have included Barbarina (Le Nozze di Figaro), Despina (Cosi Fan Tutti) and Fasquita (Carmen). She has given a renowned performance of Turandot in which she will sing the title role.

She is a performer much in demand for her oratorio and musical singing around the UK and abroad. She has recent given what was described as a blazing performance at an opera gala of classics in Ilkley, singing Puccini, Lehar, Paganini and Heuberger. She is giving a Christmas performance of Mozart at The Mansion in Leeds.

Vicky has appeared at the Edinburgh Festival, the Cheltenham Festival, the Royal Albert Hall and the Queen Elizabeth Hall. And, of course, she has starred many times with Opera North colleagues at Pennine Spring in Heptonstall.

Mr Bloom at Festival

Bloom_Hands on hips2Heptonstall’s own celebrity gardener and entertainer Mr Bloom will be welcoming children to the Festival on September 21.

Mister Bloom open the festivities in the church ruin around midday, fresh from his very successful tour of the country which saw thousands of families flock to see his very special stage show “When Julian lost his wiggle..”

Played by local resident Ben Faulkes, Mister Bloom’s nursery was the first Cbeebies programme to come out of BBC North and shows no sign of losing its popularity.

Now is your chance to meet the man himself as he appears live on stage at Heptonstall Festival.