15 Unmissable Events at Buxton International Festival 2023

Buxton International Festival enters it’s 42nd year in 2023 and they’re promising a line-up like no other. This summer boasts a glittering programme of world-class opera, classical music, jazz and thought-provoking book talks.

Firmly established as one of the country’s leading arts festivals and recently listed by The Sunday Times Top 50 Festivals of 2023 across the globe, BIF is back with an almighty bang.

After a difficult couple of years during the pandemic, they’re obviously making up for lost time and you only have to flick through the brochure to see that. The big names of singers and artists feature right across the programme; Nicola Benedetti, Wynton Marsalis, Tom Seals, Geno Washington and the Sad Band, Sacha Rattle and Peter Donohoe, The King’s Singers, Jeremy Bowen and Alastair Campbell, to name a few (several!) of the headliners.

Last year the festival introduced a Jazz programme in its own right for the first time to great success, and a whole new audience are now coming to BIF. Jazz Director Neil Hughes has really pulled it out of the bag this year, with the world famous trumpeter Wynton Marsalis headlining the Jazz series.

BIF continues the tradition of bringing to the stage lesser-performed operas, and as usual offers a treasure trove for the operatically curious.



If you’ve never been before, you can discover why our friendly and distinctive town is the perfect host. If you already reside on the doorstep, then join in the celebration.

The full festival programme is on their website or you can access a digital copy of the brochure here. Brochures are also available at Buxton Visitor Centre and other key venues in the town.

Our Pick of 15 Unmissable Events

So what can you simply not miss at BIF this year? There is something for nearly everyone. We would have added Nicola Benedetti, Wynton Marsalis and Jeremy Bowen to the following list but they are already sold out. Also worth mentioning, joining as a BIF Friend gives you priority booking ahead of public booking opening, so it’s worth checking that out for 2024 once the programme starts to be announced, which usually happens around February time; you can join from just £33 per year – well worth it if you see a show or artist you really don’t want to miss. In the meantime, here’s our top picks of 15 Unmissable Events at Buxton International Festival 2023:

Music series

Jack Hancher

15 Unmissable Events at Buxton International Festival 2023

The award-winning classical guitarist and rising star, is described as ‘a poet and a painter colouring sound out of guitar as if his imagination and the guitar were one’. In 2022, he won the prestigious Gold Medal of the Royal Overseas League Competition, becoming just the third guitarist to win the award. Hancher’s melodic approach to solos reveals an intimate understanding of his instrument, while his rhythmic precision and dynamic range create compelling performances.

When: 10th July, 11.15am – 12.15pm
Venue: St John’s Church
Tickets: £20, Balcony £18
More information / bookings: buxtonfestival.co.uk/whats-on/jack-hancher

Nicky Spence and Joseph Middleton

15 Unmissable Events at Buxton International Festival 2023

In the first of a series of concerts celebrating the four seasons of the year, Winner of the BBC Musician Magazine Personality of the Year 2022, opera singer Nicky Spence joins highly accomplished classical pianist Joseph Middleton. Spence, described in The Times as ‘a tenor who combines heroic tone and a poetic sensibility that takes the breath away’, has earned his place at the top of the profession as a most compelling singing-actor. Internationally acclaimed Middleton was described by BBC Music Magazine as ‘one of the brightest stars in the world of song and Lieder’. This collaboration is one not to miss in the music series.

When: 11th July, 11.15am – 12.15pm
Venue: St John’s Church
Tickets: £25, Balcony £20
More information / bookings: buxtonfestival.co.uk/whats-on/nicky-spence-and-joseph-middleton

Paddington Trio

15 Unmissable Events at Buxton International Festival 2023

Having first started their adventure together at Paddington Station during the pandemic in 2020, the Paddington Trio have quickly emerged as a unique and versatile ensemble, recently winning first prize in the 70th Royal Over-Seas League Competition for Strings & Piano Ensemble. Each member of the ensemble brings their unique expertise and virtuosity, resulting in a truly spellbinding performance. Their precision and mastery of their respective instruments are unmatched, leaving listeners in awe and craving for more.

When: 13th July, 11.15am – 12.15pm
Venue: St John’s Church
Tickets: £20, Balcony £18
More information / bookings: buxtonfestival.co.uk/whats-on/the-kings-singers

The King’s Singers

15 Unmissable Events at Buxton International Festival 2023

Originally founded in 1968, The King’s Singers are described as ‘gold standard’ in a capella singing in the world’s greatest stages for over 50 years. They are renowned for their connection and engagement with their audiences, their unrivalled technique, and their consummate musicianship. Uniting generations of music lovers through their vibrant harmonies and charismatic charm, From sacred to secular, renaissance to pop, their diverse repertoire resonates with a universal appeal; in an era of fleeting trends, The King’s Singers endure, reinventing the a capella experience fleeting trends, The King’s Singers endure, reinventing the a capella experience. Unsurprisingly, tickets are now limited.

When: 13th July, 3pm – 4.50pm
Venue: The Octagon, Pavilion Gardens
Tickets: £20 – £30
More information / bookings: buxtonfestival.co.uk/whats-on/the-kings-singers

Solis Trio

15 Unmissable Events at Buxton International Festival 2023

This London based, all female ensemble, won the Musicians Brass Company Prize in July 2021, and became young artists to the scheme. This talented trio have performed at the Lord Mayor’s Big Curry Lunch, The London Marathon and the Frome Festival. They are due to perform as part of the Ferrandou Musique scheme in August 2023.

When: 16th July, 12.30pm – 1.30pm
Venue: Pavilion Arts Centre
Tickets: £25, Balcony £20
More information / bookings: buxtonfestival.co.uk/whats-on/solis-trio

Book talks

Henry Dimbleby with Jemima Lewis: Ravenous: Why our appetite is killing us and the planet, and what we can do about it

15 Unmissable Events at Buxton International Festival 2023

From Henry Dimbleby, founder of the Leon restaurant chain, government adviser and author of the radical National Food Strategy, comes a manifesto that shows us how our food system no longer serves us: it’s killing us. In Ravenous, he takes us behind the scenes to reveal the mechanisms that act together to shape the modern diet – and therefore the world. He explains not just why the food system is leading us into disaster, but what can be done about it.

When: 13th July, 10am – 11am
Venue: Pavilion Arts centre
Tickets: £12
More information / bookings: buxtonfestival.co.uk/whats-on/henry-dimbleby-and-jemima-lewis

Jeremy Deller: Art is Magic

15 Unmissable Events at Buxton International Festival 2023

A truly innovative force in contemporary art, continually challenging the boundaries of expression and interaction, Turner Prize winning Deller comes to the Buxton to discuss his latest book ‘Art Is Magic’. The book attempts to bring to together the key works of his career, with the art, pop music, film, politics and history that have inspired them. Many of us will have seen one of his works at some time possibly without realising it. We’re here because we’re here was one of the largest arts participation projects ever staged in the UK, marketing the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme; some 1600 volunteers (all men), dressed in replica British army uniforms of World War I, appeared in groups at railway stations, shopping centres and other places. Each volunteer represented an individual, named, soldier who died on the first day of the battle.

Sacrilege, situated on Glasgow Green in 2012 was a full scale bouncy replica of Stonehenge created for the 2012 Olympic Games. This interactive installation, invited people to bounce on it, transforming a historical monument into playful public art.

First shown in 2019, he produced the documentary Everybody in The Place: An Incomplete History of Britain 1984–1992, which covered acid house and rave culture, and political turmoil in Britain in the 1980s and early-1990s.

Through his audacious creativity, Deller transforms the way we perceive art — not as mere spectatorship, but as an immersive, shared experience.

When: 14th July, 12.30pm – 1.30pm
Venue: Buxton Opera House
Tickets: £15
More information / bookings: buxtonfestival.co.uk/whats-on/jeremy-deller

Dame Kate Bingham and Tim Hames: The Long Shot: The Inside Story of the Race to Vaccinate Britain

15 Unmissable Events at Buxton International Festival 2023

The Long Shot: The Inside Story of the Race to Vaccinate Britain by Dame Kate Bingham is a riveting behind-the-scenes account of one of the most monumental public health efforts in history. Bingham’s masterful storytelling weaves intricate narratives of scientific innovation, unprecedented collaboration, and relentless determination. Navigating the turbulent waters of vaccine development amidst a pandemic, this book brings to light the untold stories of heroes battling against the ticking clock. This is not just a tale about a vaccine; it’s a saga of courage, tenacity, and groundbreaking triumph. 

When: 21st July, 12.30pm – 1.30pm
Venue: Buxton Opera House
Tickets: £15
More information / bookings: buxtonfestival.co.uk/whats-on/dame-kate-bingham-and-tim-hames

Jazz series

Jamie Safir

15 Unmissable Events at Buxton International Festival 2023

A rising star of contemporary jazz, Safir brings his captivating voice, infusing classic jazz with modern sensibilities. His sparkling new one man show ‘Piano Talk’ presents the glamorous (and not so glamorous!) view from the piano. It features a wonderfully diverse selection of his exciting arrangements, interwoven with often hilarious tales of performing at iconic West End venues. Surrender to the allure of his voice, embrace the rhythm of his melodies, and discover the magic of Jamir Safir. His performance credits include Will Young, Kylie Minogue and Tony Christie.

When: 7th July, 10.30pm – 11.45pm
Venue: Jazz at the Palace Hotel
Tickets: £15
More information / bookings: buxtonfestival.co.uk/whats-on/jamie-safir

Tom Seals

15 Unmissable Events at Buxton International Festival 2023

Fresh from his sell-out ‘Let The Good Times Roll’ tour, Tom Seals has the world at this fingertips. His virtuoso soloing, excellent improvisation skills and distinctive voice have left top industry officials hailing him the UK’s finest boogie woogie and blues pianist/vocalist. Still only in his twenties, Tom Seals’ star is destined to soar stratospherically in 2023 with his own TV show and festival appearances worldwide.

A charismatic jazz singer whose magnetic performances captivate audiences worldwide, Seals has collaborated with numerous music icons including Jools Holland, Jamie Callum, Gregory Porter, Hugh Laurie, KT Tunstall and Matt Lucas.

When: 9th July, 5pm – 7.30pm
Venue: Jazz at the Palace Hotel
Tickets: £20
More information / bookings: buxtonfestival.co.uk/whats-on/tom-seals

Zoe Kyoti

15 Unmissable Events at Buxton International Festival 2023

Beginning her musical journey on the Manchester jazz scene, Zoe has performed at various festivals, including Southport Jazz Festival and Manchester Jazz Festival, and key northern venues including Band on the Wall in Manchester, and The Sage in Gateshead. Merging blues and folk traditions with exotic world music influences, her heartfelt songs explore tales of lost love, rebirth, rebellion and adventure. She performs at the Festival with her eight-piece band.

When: 13th July, 7.30pm – 9.30pm
Venue: Pavilion Arts Centre
Tickets: £20
More information / bookings: buxtonfestival.co.uk/whats-on/zoe-kyoti

Geno Washington and The Ram Band / Sad Café

15 Unmissable Events at Buxton International Festival 2023

Catch two giants from the 60s and 70s perform in a not-to-be-missed double header. Geno Washington’s status as the undisputed ‘King of Soul’ was cemented forever by Kevin Rowland and Dexy’s Midnight Runners in the 1980s, with the World-wide No. 1 smash hit single ‘Geno’. It paid homage to the great man himself and is still played regularly today on national radio and at Geno’s live gigs both before and after shows.

The second set sees Sad Café perform their catalogue of great songs including Every Day Hurts and My Oh My, both from their Top Ten album Facades.

When: 14th July 7.15pm – 9.45pm
Venue: Buxton Opera House
Tickets: £20 – £33
More information / bookings: buxtonfestival.co.uk/whats-on/geno-washington-and-the-ram-jam-band-sad-cafe

Madeline Bell with Ian Shaw

15 Unmissable Events at Buxton International Festival 2023
© Ans van Heck, 2014

The powerhouse legendary New Jersey-born singer bring hers unmistakable voice, of silky lows and and soaring highs to Buxton this summer, alongside one of her long-time collaborators, the award-winning singer, pianist and broadcaster, Ian Shaw. This show debuts as an exclusive for Buxton. Expect searing ballads, swinging songs from the American classic canon, the odd surprise and, of course, the unmistakable voice of an era – Madeline Bell.

When: 15th July, 7.30pm – 9.30pm
Venue: Pavilion Arts Centre
Tickets: £20
More information / bookings: buxtonfestival.co.uk/whats-on/madeline-bell-with-ian-shaw

Opera

The Land of Might-Have-Been

15 Unmissable Events at Buxton International Festival 2023

Written by Michael Williams, co-creator of UK Theatre Award winning opera Georgiana (2019), The Land of Might-Have-Been is a story of hopes, dreams and forbidden love. This bold new musical is loosely based on the early life of Buxton’s Vera Brittain. Built around the songs of Ivor Novello, the musical arrangement should be wonderful. Songs like My Dearest DearWaltz of My Heart, My Life Belongs To You and Why Is There Ever Goodbye captures Ivor Novello’s extraordinary gift of melody and harmony. We heard an excerpt from this production at the official ‘launch’ of the festival in May at the The Octagon in Buxton; we suspect this could prove to be another big hit for the festival this summer.

When: 7th – 21st July (matinee & evening performances)
Venue: Buxton Opera House
Tickets: £25 – £71
More information / bookings: buxtonfestival.co.uk/whats-on/the-land-of-might-have-been

Song at Six

15 Unmissable Events at Buxton International Festival 2023

If you’ve never been to an opera before these free 15 minute concerts at 6pm are the perfect opportunity to try-before-you-buy! Performed by the festival’s Young Artists Programme on the Band Stand in the pretty Pavilion Gardens, this is great pre-dinner treat if you’re passing through or on the way home from work.

When: 7th, 8th, 11th, 12th, 15th, 18th, 21st, 22nd July – 6pm on each date
Venue: The Band Stand, Pavilion Gardens
Tickets: Free
More information / bookings: buxtonfestival.co.uk/whats-on/the-land-of-might-have-been

The festival takes place 6th – 23rd July 2023. Ticket bookings can made online or you can book with the Box Office at Buxton Opera House in person or over the phone.

Buxton International Festival, 3 The Square, Buxton, SK17 6AZ

T: 01298 72190 Box Office (Bookings) / 01298 70395 Festival Office (Information only)

buxtonfestival.co.uk

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