Staithes Festival of Arts and Heritage: Artists to return to 'extremely picturesque' Yorkshire fishing village this year

Artists have long been drawn to Staithes' dramatic landscapes in attempts to capture its coastal charm.

Now as the quaint fishing village's artistic festival looks set to return, villagers once more prepare to open their cottage doors as temporary galleries.

Registration has opened for the Staithes Festival of Arts and Heritage, to be held in September, following a two-year break in which anticipation has only grown.

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Artist Rob Shaw is chairman of the volunteer group which helps to organise it.

Driftwood artist Sarah Wilson

He said: "This is a great celebration of Staithes, of the village itself and of North Yorkshire, as well as of art with artists coming from as far as Madrid.

"Staithes is extremely picturesque, there isn't a day through the year you won't find someone painting the place," he added.

"We wanted to bring all that together. This is a showcase for everybody."

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Staithes' artistic heritage dates back to Queen Victoria's reign, when a colony of artists gathered here in the 19th century.

This Staithes Group of Artists featured some of Britain's most prominent painters such as Dame Laura Knight, Harold Knight, and Joseph Bagshawe, all inspired by its surroundings.

It was here that Britain's greatest explorer Captain Cook got his first taste of teh sea, and the village was once among England's biggest fishing ports.

Today, its quaint cobbled streets, traditional wooden fishing cobles, and winding cliff paths, prove a "magnet" to artistic folk, said Mr Shaw, all drawn in attempts to capture its charm.

A decade ago, a group of local artists and gallery owners had come across the concept of pop-up galleries, and what began with 25 artists has grown to include over 100 cottages.

The festival, over its last three-day weekend, with vast art and light installations, proved hugely popular and drew an estimated 5,000 visitors.

Now, plans are afoot for its return over three days in September, from street buskers to guided walks, workshops, talks and shows, preparing plans under guidance as time allows.

Artists, from painters to printers, textile makers and ceramicists, are now invited to register for exhibitions in temporary galleries, let or loaned by villagers and holiday cottage owners.

Mr Shaw said the ambition a decade ago was for a way in which artists could open their work to interpretation, inspired by a similar concept in Pittenweem village in Scotland.

He said: "It started out as a very small village festival, but it's grown exponentially over the years.

"For a couple of hundred years Staithes has been connected with artists. Back in Victorian times it was a very affluent set, but Staithes still has a prominent artistic community.

"Now it's 'full-steam ahead', with applications flooding in already as artists are keen to get back to celebrating their work."

The Staithes Festival of Arts and Heritage is to be held over a three-day weekend from September 9, supported by the North York Moors National Park and the Coastal Communities Fund.

As well as a showcase in galleries for contemporary art inspired by the surrounding area, artists can let or loan temporary exhibitions or pop-up galleries in cottages and holiday lets.

Interest from street buskers, musicians and vendors is also now being sought. To find out more visit