Ask people what Buxton is famous for and the likely answers will be ‘the water’, ‘the architecture’ or perhaps even ‘the micro-climate’. Many people will say ‘the festival’. Once a year, the town enjoys international focus with crowds flocking to Buxton from all over the world for a two-week celebration of the best opera, music and books. You know it’s officially summer when the Pimms bar at Buxton Opera House pops up again and the hustle and bustle of festival time transforms the town.
From the 8th to 21st July 2021, the town will burst with colour and song once again. Residents of Buxton cannot fail to notice that the place really seems to come alive. Sadly, although many Buxtonians are aware of the lease of artistic vitality, they can feel like the International Festival is something for visitors rather than something for them. This year, the Festival want to turn that impression on its head by inviting you to come and see your first show. They promise an electrifying new experience and opera for everyone. If you’re not sure what to see, they are more than happy to advise.
Musical on the programme for the first time ever
If opera really isn’t your thing, the 2021 Festival has a musical on the programme for the first time ever. A Little Night Music is a bittersweet tale of romantic possibility by Stephen Sondheim. Don’t delay, however, as tickets for this unique event are selling fast. If the show does sell out, you can still catch the stars performing tunes in the Festival’s Strictly Musical Charity Gala.
Whether you’re a total newbie or an opera veteran, the BIF is proud to continue the tradition of bringing world-class performance to the heart of the Peak District. Dido’s Ghost gets its first live audience after being streamed at the Barbican in London and before it moves on to the Edinburgh International Festival. Equally, The Dancing Master is an opera that promises to be lots of fun. Originally written for the BBC, the musical comedy was considered too bawdy for their audience!
Books – Jonathan Dimbleby
On the book front, festival favourites such as Andrew Marr, Neil Oliver, Polly Toynbee and Matthew Parris will be dropping by to discuss their literary endeavours, amongst many others. Notably, Simon Heffer will be examining the diaries of Henry ‘Chips’ Channon, an affluent American who managed to scale the pinnacles of British high society between the wars.
A big name this year is Jonathan Dimbleby, talking about his new book. Author of highly acclaimed Second World War histories, he celebrates his new publication Barbarossa, How Hitler Lost the War. Jonathan will be in conversation with Professor David Reynolds, dissecting and exploring Operation Barbarossa, Hitler’s invasion of Russia in June 1941. Drawing on unseen archival material, Dimbleby puts Barbarossa in its proper place in history for the first time in his usual gripping style. Described as a masterwork, told with verve and elan, Dimbleby argues that Barbarossa was a colossal mistake that lost Hitler the Second World War.
The Guardian newspaper has listed the BIF as one of its top ten best arts festivals in the UK this summer. If you’ve never been before, you can discover why the friendly and distinctive town is the perfect host. If you already reside on the doorstep, you could perhaps consider yourself part of the celebration, instead of being a bystander, and treat yourself to a show. After the last sixteen months, we’ve all earnt it.
The full festival programme is on their website or you can access a digital copy here. Printed copies of the programme are also available at Buxton Visitor Centre and other venues in the town.
3 The Square, Buxton, SK17 6AZ
T: 01298 72190 Box Office / 01298 70395 Festival Office