Ryedale District Council


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Arts organisations and events

Ryedale has a rich and varied cultural life with a large number of professional and community-based arts organisations and venues. The district rejoices in many creative practitioners, musicians, theatre companies, creative social enterprises, community groups and professional organisations – the lists below are, therefore, not in any way exhaustive.

If you would like to visit Ryedale’s arts venues you can pick up a free copy of “RyeScape culture map” (PDF, 2 pages, 1874kb), a map of arts, heritage and other cultural highlights, at venues and Visitor Information Points across the District. You can also download it from the bottom of this page.

Ryedale has a huge number of small, community groups whose members get together to enjoy making art. We have film societies, amateur operatics, theatre groups, song writing groups, choirs, textile groups, folk dancing, street dancing, gigging and jamming, and it is impossible to list all of them here. If you are looking for a particular art-form in a particular part of Ryedale you may like to start with your local library, or you may have a query that we can help you with.

Many of these organisations will also welcome enquiries from potential members and those who would like to get involved as volunteers.

Helmsley Arts Centre has gained a nation-wide reputation for its live-event and film programmes. The venue, which has a 140-seat auditorium and 40-seat studio/exhibition space, provides film screenings, live music, theatre performances, comedy clubs, art exhibitions and workshops/classes. We have commissioned Helmsley Arts Centre has been commissioned as an arts hub.

The Milton Rooms in Malton aims to be a hub of excellence for the arts in all creative fields. It offers a programme of theatre, music, art, dance and comedy, and is also available as a hire venue which is used by a large range of local arts organisations.

The Band Room at Farndale on the North York Moors, is a 100 capacity wooden room, built for the Farndale Silver Band in the 1920s and now the home of intimate gigs, often played by world-famous performers. Shows are scheduled as performers become available.

In addition to the venues listed here a large number of village halls and non-arts venues are used for arts activities. To find out more, keep an eye on the local press.

Rural Arts On Tour is the rural touring scheme for North Yorkshire and East Cleveland. With the help of over 300 volunteer promoters On Tour brings high quality, professional theatre, comedy, music, pantomime, and puppetry to venues in rural settings. These venues include village halls, community centres, small theatres, pubs or schools. To find out what's on and if the tour is coming to a community near you please visit the current tour page. If you would like to put an event on in your community please visit the promoters page. Rural Arts has been commissioned by Ryedale District Council to support and develop Ryedale's rural, volunteer promoters.

Live Music Now supports inspirational young professional musicians to use their talents for the benefit of those who are otherwise excluded from the joy of experiencing live music. In Ryedale this includes performances in residential care homes and a project called Songs & Scones, which brings older people together from all over the area to an afternoon of music and cake!


Ryedale is the home of a large number of festivals which embrace every art-form and every genre.  They take place throughout the year but for accurate information about dates and venues please visit the festivals own website.

Ryedale Festival welcomes outstanding performers, both established and emerging, from all over the world for two weeks every July. Performances take place at Castle Howard, Hovingham Hall, Duncombe Park and Sledmere, as well as in Ampleforth Abbey, Helmsley Arts Centre and the many beautiful country churches of Ryedale.

The North York Moors Chamber Music Festival focuses on the purity of music within a beautiful environment. It takes place in historic churches across the North York Moors in August each year.

Ryedale Jazz Festival take place in venues across Pickering and is run by Ryedale Jazz Society, which was founded with the aim of introducing traditional jazz to younger audiences as well as ensuring that enthusiasts have opportunities to enjoy performers from all over the country.

The Ryedale Book Festival is an inclusive event with something for the whole Ryedale community. It takes place in Malton and Norton annually, in September, but also offers a number of opportunities to get involved at smaller events throughout the year.

Staxtonbury Festival takes place in early July each year. It has become a popular festival for families, as it takes place in a safe 24 acre site near the A64.


Ryedale is home to a large number of creative businesses and individuals. Some artists occupy studios which are open throughout the year, others are showcased in a wide range of galleries.

Bils and Rye is an inspiring art gallery which specialises in ceramics and sculpture from both established and emerging British artists. It is situated in the market town of Kirkbymoorside.

Gallery Beyond, in Nunnington, showcases an eclectic mixture of paintings, ceramics and jewellery, and seeks to showcase both local and national artists.

Saltbox Gallery in Helmsley, shows a wide variety of contemporary art and fine craft, with a regularly changing programme of exhibitions.

Look Gallery, also situated in Helmsley, offers two floors of paintings, sculptures and pottery from respected local, regional and national artists.

The Gallery at the Folk Museum shows the best of art, crafts and heritage from the museum's own collections, the local area and the region. Admission to the Gallery is free.

Gillies Jones Glass produce stunning hand-blown glass to contemporary designs inspired by the landscape surrounding their Rosedale studio and gallery. It is possible to visit for much of the year, but please check their website before making any special journey.

The Robert Fuller Gallery at Thixendale is open every day (but please check the website before travelling). It showcases the work of one of Britain’s foremost wildlife artists and has exhibitions of Robert’s work as well as a live nest-cam.

Sophie Hamilton's studio is open all year. Her range of handmade pots combines function with decoration to make a unique item. Her studio is just off the A169 at High Marishes.

The North Yorkshire Moors Railway has an Artist in Residence, Chris Ware. His studio is at Levisham Station and can be visited for much of the year.

Various Open Studios events are run throughout the year. The biggest is the North Yorkshire Open Studios which takes place in June every other year. Artists across Ryedale participate and visitors can see work in the making. In previous years participant artists have included painters, ceramicists, glass-makers, blacksmiths, silversmiths and textile artists. Several of Ryedale’s villages have large numbers of visual artists and galleries but Lockton is probably exceptional in the number of creative practitioners who live there. You can visit the Lockton Artists Open Studios which takes place in various venues in the village including the pub, the cafe and the village hall.

A number of high quality art exhibitions are held throughout the year at venues across Ryedale including Nunnington Hall, Scampston Hall, and the Yorkshire Arboretum.


Ryedale has a number of high quality public artworks which are worth visiting:

WANDER is a sculpture trail along the Wolds Way long distance footpath and two of the pieces are sited in Ryedale. Jony Easterby's Enclosure Rites and Chris Drury's Waves and Time both sit timelessly in a magical landscape which inspired them. The trail also includes a number of benches designed by artist Angus Ross with poetry by John Wedgewood Clarke.

lumber jills 2A commemorative sculpture was commissioned by the Forestry Commission to mark the work of the Women's Timber Corps during the Second World War. Ray Lonsdale's piece, Pull, Don't Push, situated at Haygate Bank in Dalby Forest, is made from corten steel and seeks to show both the hard work and the camaraderie of the Lumberjills.

Dalby is becoming known for its increasing number of public artworks: there are a number to look out for throughout the forest, including giant acorns outside the visitor centre (by chainsaw sculptor Steve Iredale). The construction of the largest Dry Stone Wall Maze in the world is currently underway here and you can check up on its progress in a display in the Visitor Centre. Turner Prize-winning artist Rachel Whiteread’s new work “Nissen Hut”, part of the Shy Sculpture’s series, can be seen at Adderstone Field from Autumn 2018. This artwork, commissioned by 14-18 NOW, is to mark the end of the First World War and the centenary of the Forestry Commission (established in 1919 to address the depletion of timber caused by the War). The work will be permanently sited at Dalby as a testament to the impact of the First World War on the landscape.

Riverside Walk in Norton has a number of pieces designed by local schoolchildren working with artist David Mayne. These pieces were cast and then inserted in to the footpath. They celebrate the heritage, flora and fauna of Malton and Norton.

Malton Castle wall, in the Castle Garden, has an interpretive piece by Pete Coates. Malton Castle was, for many years, extremely important and its history is a fascinating one yet, locally, few people know much about it. Malton Castle information leaflet (PDF, 2 pages, 6191kb).



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Ryedale District Council
Ryedale House
Old Malton Road
Malton, North Yorkshire
YO17 7HH

Email: Contact the Council

Phone: 01653 600666

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