New Mills Festival returns in style

New Mills Festival is returning in style this year and has been billed by the organisers as two magical weeks of walks, talks and fairs, food, music and art, lanterns, processions and parties. 

There is certainly plenty going on in the town from today September 13 until September 29 culminating with The Big Weekend that includes the Art Trail and the famous Lantern Parade on the Saturday evening.

During the rest of the festival you can enjoy events as diverse as needle felting, Morris dancing and a classical music concert on a church organ.

As well as the art trail there is also a jumble trail, a poetry trail and a ‘mystery history’ walk looking at the development of New Mills.

One of the most unusual events has to be Speed Portraiting at the Beer Shed with Andrea Joseph. It’s a novel take on speed dating which involves drawing portraits of your matches against the clock. No experience is necessary so you can expect to leave having had a great laugh with an interesting selection of portraits of yourself.

Two of the main highlights of the festival with be Fabaret – featuring music, burlesque and acrobats on September 13 at Torr Vale Mill and the Folk Night IV at The Butterfly House at the Torrs at 7pm on September 29.

Fabaret includes burlesque act Raven Noir, who is known for her amazing costumes and her dark, sultry routines, and acrobatic duo Deux Aile, who combine grace, style and gravity-defying agility, both in the air and on the ground. They create breath-taking routines that merge the worlds of dance and acrobatics with performances that enthral and excite. 

Kicking off the folk night will be Birte Paulsen. Inspired by folk, chanson, Americana and Scandinavian eccentricity Birte will be followed by Brighton-based band Bird In The Belly, a collective made up of solo artist Jinnwoo, folk duo Hickory Signals and instrumentalist Tom Pryor. 

Next up is local band The Gally Canters with their unique style of foot-stomping folk from Ireland and elsewhere. 

The evening will be rounded off in exuberant style by Galivantes with a mix of ‘bouncy punky reggae Balkan disco skank’ honed with observations of life in general and a subliminal power-to-the-people message. 

The art trail will see more than 150 artists in 60 venues turn the town into a gallery. As well as the town’s established arts venues, The Gallery, Gallery 23, The Art Theatre, Spring Bank Arts Centre, Pulse Café, The Library and The Heritage Centre there will be other halls and homes opened up for the weekend. You can read about one of them, photographer Lee Finch’s narrowboat on the following pages. Don’t miss the New Mills Primary School Sculpture Park. Last year the pupils made fantastic sculptures from recycled plastic and this year’s theme is The Elements so it promises to be just as good.

For a full programme of events, which you can download and print go to