Can we Summarise RTF 2023 in Five Words?


As promised, this year’s festival did turn out to be bigger, brighter and bolder than before. Even with over 80 events in more than 20 venues, we were able to squeeze everybody and everything in. Thanks to the hard-working Festival Team and more than 30 volunteers over the five days, we managed a safe and successful Festival which enabled more than 4,000 fabulous theatrical experiences.


We are busy collecting feedback from audiences, participants and partners, but we have already had many positive and heart-felt messages – thank you to everyone who has taken the trouble to get in touch. We are very grateful to Helen Tabor and Ben Colson for taking brilliant photos across the Festival, capturing the atmosphere around the city. So many of the images show happy audiences, happy performers and happy hosts that we think it’s fair to say that people enjoyed themselves!


The Festival aims to enable people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities to enjoy and participate in live performance. We are delighted that such a range of local community groups joined us as performers over the weekend and that we were able to bring the magic of theatre to audiences ranging from the very young to those living with Dementia. Our bird-making workshops, led by Andy from Hazelsong Theatre were also a great success and brought us closer to partner organisations such as the YMCA, Evolve College and Ripon Community Link. We counted 273 local performers and 78 workshop participants which is wonderful!


We think the range of events from a tiny puppet show in the Cabmen’s Shelter to the swashbuckling Robin Hood in the grandeur of Fountains Abbey makes our Festival special.  The programme of community and professional performances running side-by-side is also quite unusual. We loved hosting companies from as far afield as Kent alongside our own home-grown talent.

And we are particularly pleased with our Pop-Up Programme of events which involved multiple local partners in hosting unique events. We were able to bring high-quality professional puppetry and storytelling into even the smallest café or small shop and show some familiar landmarks and institutions in a new light. Thank you to all those businesses and organisations for opening their doors to us.


The 2023 Festival will be remembered for wall-to-wall sunshine, blue skies and hot temperatures. Weren’t we lucky?

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