Regarded as the premier cultural event in the Avon Valley, The York Festival will be held from 25 September to 10 October 2021.
Festival-goers in 2021 can look forward to the long-awaited return of jazz to York over the Festival's opening weekend, with a jam-packed program of acts from renowned local WA performers held throughout the town's iconic venues; the launch of a new Writers Program curated by The West Australian's William Yeoman over the festival's second weekend; and a diverse showcase of rare craft practices from blacksmithing and fibre weaving, to book binding and printmaking (in WA's only print museum), embroidery and wood carving.
Start planning the ultimate York Festival experience today! Below are some of the must-see 2021 events.
In 2021, The York Festival welcomes the return of jazz to York, with performances from locally renowned artists held throughout the historic town centre, making use of orthodox venues and unusual spaces. Ticketed and free events can be enjoyed from afternoon to late evening on the opening weekend of the festival from 25 to 28 September.
The Big HOO-HAA is joining in the fun with a night of comedy improv! Join Perth's best comedians as they do battle in a competition of wit, humour and bad mime skills.
Classical music lovers are sure to be delighted by A Night Out With Wolfie & Gang, featuring baroque and classical music highlights and beyond with Patricia Alessi (singer), Andrew Tait (double bass and viol) and Robert Graham (harpsichord & piano).
These events will take place in some of the town's iconic venues;
York Town Hall - The York Town Hall will bring you a ticketed series of some of Perth's brightest jazz stars all on one special weekend - Adam Hall and the Velvet Playboys, Libby Hammer & Ali Bodycoat, Simone Craddock, Russell Holmes Trio, Allira Wilson and Gina Williams & Guy Ghouse. Plus catch A Night Out With Wolfie & Gang here for the opening of the second weekend Friday 1 October.
The Imperial Homestead - The relaxed outdoor atmosphere of the Imperial will be where you can hear everything from the traditional jazz stylings of The Corner House Jazz Band and Beans Buma's Boys of Rhythm, through to the contemporary sounds of the Gemma Farrell Quintet, The Love Rats, Trio Trio and the WA Youth Jazz Orchestra and the Lucy Iffla Quartet.
152 Speakeasy - Hidden away behind the main street will be the hippest secret venue in town to grab a drink and soak up even more jazz and music performances. This is where The Big HOO HAA! will give you your comedy kicks!
Street & Balcony Performances - The main street will be filled with live street performers spilling sound from storefronts and second-story balconies. Take in the FREE street program while window shopping, passing between venues or stopping in for a bite to eat or something to drink.
The York Festival Writers Program will engage and delight readers of all ages, as new and established WA authors serve up a feast of fiction, non-fiction, kids' books, crime fiction and poetry. It's compact, intimate and friendly: a safe space for conversation, readings and encounters.
OPENING EVENT: BREAKFAST WITH STEPHEN SCOURFIELD Travel Editor, journalist, photographer, award-winning novelist and spoken-word performer Stephen Scourfield is a travel journalism legend, twice voted Australia's best travel writer. Join Stephen and colleague Will Yeoman as they tell the story of some of the world's great rivers, including, of course, York's Avon River!, in words and music, as breakfast is served. All proceeds will be donated to the local River Conservation Society.
THE FICTION SET (4 SESSIONS) Leslie Thiele (Skyglow), Monique Mulligan (Wherever You Go) and David Allan-Petale (Locust Summer) speak with Amanda Curtin (Elemental) Portland Jones (Seeing the Elephant), Barry Divola (Driving Stevie Fracasso) and Will Yeoman (The West Australian) about powerful, intimate and very human tales - and what it means to be a writer in today's world.
THE NON-FICTION SET (3 SESSIONS) The West Australian's award-winning Travel Editor Stephen Scourfield (Isolation) and historians Bill and Jenny Bunbury (Many Maps) write the land like few others. In conversation with Tony Hughes D'Aeth (Like Nothing On this Earth: A Literary History of the Wheatbelt), Barry Divola and Will Yeoman, they delve into the nature, history and culture of WA's past, present and future.
THE CHILDREN'S SET (4 SESSIONS) There's plenty for children and their families too, with local legends Cristy Burne (Beneath the Trees), Norman Jorgensen (The Wrecker's Curse) and Katie Stewart (Where Do the Stars Go?), spurred on by Monique Mulligan, Amanda Curtin, Portland Jones and Barry Divola. A special panel discussion for adults and older children, Writing for Children will be a must for aspiring and established children's writers and illustrators.
THE CRIME SET (3 SESSIONS) Who doesn't love a bit of crime? In a fictional sense, of course! Join "New Voices in Crime" Karen Herbert (The River Mouth) and Alexander Thorpe (Death Leaves the Station) as they talk about their hugely entertaining mysteries, set partly or wholly in regional WA, with Portland Jones and Will Yeoman.
THE POETRY SET (4 SESSIONS) Could there be a better way to end a day of literature and story than with some of WA's finest poets reading and discussing their own exquisite poetry? Acclaimed Wheatbelt poet John Kinsella (Textures of Ambiguity), Caitlin Maling (Fish Work), Fr. Robert Nixon (Song of the Nightingale) and Rose van Son (Cloak of Letters) will not only share their special word music but reveal their motivations and techniques.
BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE!
Arts and crafts are at the heart of The York Festival. fed as an art & craft market, the festival held its first art exhibition with renowned botanic artist Philippa Nikulinsky and other artists from the Botanic Artists Group in 2015. From the Hay Bale Challenge straw sculpture prize to the creation of giant Wara Art straw sculptures with artists from Japan, art remains at the foundation of what the festival is about.
The 2021 program of Rare & Endangered Crafts, which is a satellite event for the inaugural Indian Ocean Craft Triennial, is an opportunity to see traditional crafts such as those presented by the Embroiderers Guild of WA's remarkable collection of lace and embroidery, to artisans such as wood craftsman Neil Turner, potter Stewart Scambler, printmaker Leonie Oakes, West, neon glass bender George Aitken, blacksmiths from the Blacksmith Association of WA, luthier Andrew Tait and local Noongar artists Klem Narkle, Yolande Ward and others.
Workshops and demonstrations will provide opportunities for arts and crafts lovers to learn some of these diverse techniques from the participating artists throughout the festival period.
Revisit your childhood memories or create some new ones with an interactive, hands-on family program of events designed to engage the whole family!
Paint an umbrella, drop into the Lego workshops, laugh at the hilarious antics of The Little Hoo Haa!, build a forest of cubbies in Peace Park, smash an epic sand sculpture, or check out some of the local demonstrations like sock making at the Sock Factory, sheep shearing at the Imperial Courtyard, and neon glass bending at the Sandalwood Yards. Plus, get active with a variety of circus workshops with NeuroCircus held on the closing weekend and learn how to live a healthier lifestyle at Healthway's LiveLighter Family Activity Zone in Peace Park with take home resources fun activities for everyone.
Local attractions around the Festival you can't miss include running through the bright canola and patting miniature animals at PetTeet Park, exploring the Avon River by traversing an epic suspension bridge at Avon Park, and sampling local treats at York Ice Cream Co- there's no limit to how you can have fun these school holidays!
Visitors to York can explore York's fine collection of museums including the York Motor Museum, the Residency Museum, the Sandalwood Letterpress Print Museum and the Tipperary School and wander through the remarkable Blands Town precinct at the southern end of the town, which is a story in itself.
The York Society is a proud contributor to the York Festival's annual program delivering a range of popular walking tours that shine a light on aspects of York's history History buffs Rob Garton Smith and Ian Phillips, lead an exciting program of walking tours including the 'Death' Tour, Convict York Walk, Architecture Tour, Avon Terrace Walk, Blacksmiths of York, Church Tour and Architecture Tour with Ian Phillips also delivering the Tour of York Clocks, all providing stories and insights into York's history.
A special feature of The York Festival is its capacity to bring the community together through activities and events. This year, the community program features events held by local organisations including the York Medieval Fayre presented by Act Belong Commit on the opening weekend, arts and crafts markets presented by Event Pop Artisan Markets, performances by the Western Australia Police Force Pipe Band (WAPOL), and Signals Sound Laboratory, a unique large format sound installation by Perth audiovisual artist Will Axten.
A particular highlight is our star gazing event atop Wongborel (Mount Brown) where attendees will get the opportunity to sample local foods prepared by Gather York whilst the sun sets before seeing the best part of the Milky Way Galaxy light up the sky with local astronomy guide Riley Johnston. Guests will also get to watch Daniel Garlett's Dadajaal Dance Company present the 'Morning Star" dance and Northam-based Ballardong Noongar storytellers share stories of the night sky from creation time as part of this experience..