Why Kirkstall Festival Is So Great

A H&S set… …Set in The Cloisters

Kirkstall Abbey
Thanks to Dirk of for the picture

Hope and Social are to play the lovely lovely Kirkstall Festival on Saturday 9th of July. We’ll be playing in The Cloisters (pictured above) around 2-30pm… Pretty isn’t it?

A bit of background…

The other week I caught up with festival stalwart and co-ordinator with Alan Crump to talk about the festival.


Kirstall Festival
RH: So, what’s Kirkstall Festival all about then?

AC: Kirkstall Festival is a community festival organisaed by the Kirkstall Valley Community Association. It is now over 30 years old and is held in the grounds of Kirkstall Abbey. It has grown into a colourful and inclusive event that encourages all parts of the community to join in from the very youngest to those with a few more years under their belts. It has been described as the ‘best urban village fair’ there is but I’m not sure that is a category. Kirkstall Festival remains essentially a free event – we ask those coming along to buy a programme to help pay for the fun and games. Lots of local organisations get involved and raise lots for charity though their stalls and activities on the day. Mind you there are only so many tombolas one person can manage!

And how did you get involved?

Now that’s down the demon drink I’m afraid…living up the road from the Abbey… Kikrstall Festival was must on our summer diary. So that usually meant picnic blanket, cakes and nibbles and a box of wine. After a particularly fine afternoon and one too many glasses of Chilean white I strode purposefully up the information desk and volunteered my “‘umble services”. Little did I know then that I would be faced with becoming the events co-ordinator and everything else that goes on. The thing is that during the day the committee are rightly on an alcohol ban… so no more Chilean white for me. The up-side is of course that I can book Hope and Social and other great performers to do their thing.

That’s lovely of you to say Alan. ;)
It seems to me like this is a festival very much “for the people”, how do you go about making it feel so inclusive?

Huxley's Dog "Odlum" enjoyed Kirkstall Festival '09

For the people, by the people, through the people…it is absolutely essential to involve as many different age groups, different agencies and perspectives as possible in the Festival so that everyone can feel they fit in somewhere. We always make sure that local schools are involved in as many parts of the day as possible. This goes for local performers, local groups and organisations. Also its important to keep somethings recognisable and the same while slowly introducing new ideas. As long as it remains community orientatated at its core it will succeed.

What are you most looking forward to?

I suppose I should say the Kirkstall Festival debut performance of Hope and Social…and I’m sure it will be a real show stopper however I look forward to the whole day and everyone enjoying themselves.. both performers and Leeds finest.

Year on year… What is steals the show?

That’s a hard one…musically in recent times the Youth Stage has produced some absolutely stunning youngsters who obviously have massive potential ahead..the Leeds Youth Jazz Rock Orchestra are always brilliant and they have played every year since I started and BassaBassa inject a certain Festival energy that is hard to beat…they are all show stealers in their own way. However I have a special spot for Pete White and his Suitcase Circus which is zany and irreverant.

And what made you think that getting 8 blue-jacketed buffoons along would be good for the festival?

Because H&S are a brilliant live act and from what I can see they love an interesting venue. Those who knew H&S have been suggesting they would fit in perfectly at Kirkstall Festival and we do love a big sound. I also recognised that buffoons or not they also appreciated the importance of local performance, community involvement and having a great time.

And two last quick ones…
How will we recognise you at the festival? A carnation in your collar?

Usually silly hat and shorts, high viz jacket and a pensive look. I will add a carnation for this year

Best food at a festival ever?

I know that…organic humous and sausage butties…made by the Millrace Organic Restaurant..unfortunately no longer around! Wow.
However there is always great food for all tastes at the no-one need go hungry.

Last words?

It all kicks off at 11am and finishes at 6pm
Hope and Social have their debut KF performance at 2.30pm
Please buy a programme and keep a community festival alive


We’re also looking very much to garner a bit of your support helping us deck out that wonderful space if you’re able… and willing. Alan Crump, festival stalwart and co-ordinator has been rumoured to be investing in a bunch of Hope and Social coloured balloons and bunting, and if you want to help us put our blue and white stamp on this amazing piece of architecture and culture.

If you can make it, and want to get down around 11am, please pop your name down in the comments below and make your presence felt. ;)

Also, if you do want to know a bit more, here’s the flyer for the event, but don’t forget to buy the programme. That’s helps support the good people. ;)

If you want to connect with the KF lovelies further, you can find Kirkstall Festival on twitter too.


Join the discussion and tell us your opinion.

July 14, 2011 at 6:04 pm

Just so y’know, there’s some lovely pics up of these online now courtesy of Gail Watts:

and Russell Dixon

I took a couple of panoramas too: and click left/newer.

July 14, 2011 at 6:07 pm

Though this is my fave so far. ;)

Festivals 2012 « Hope And Social
March 14, 2012 at 3:15 pm

[…] Kirkstall Festival, right on my doorstep and a bloody great community festival to boot. We played it last year and what a gorgeous day it was. Image c/o Russell Dixon/Dervish Images We’re overjoyed to […]