Buxton Opera House Buxton International Festival

A weekend at Buxton International Festival

If you’re the kind of art lover who enjoys both town and country, modern and traditional, highbrow and populist then Buxton International Festival is the ideal destination for you. This summertime celebration of the very best opera, music and literature set in the heart of the beautiful Peak District is designed to meet the most eclectic of tastes.

But if you’re like us you’ll probably find it hard to choose from the many events on offer so we’ve put together a sample itinerary to give you an idea of what you can see and do during the first weekend of the festival.

Friday 5 July

Arrive early (perhaps via Virgin Trains to take the hassle out of driving), settle yourself into your accommodation and enjoy a stroll around Buxton. There’s plenty to see in this beautiful town – the sweeping Pavilion Gardens, Buxton Crescent (currently under renovation), the stately Devonshire Dome, built by the 5th Duke of Devonshire in 1779, now owned by the University of Derby and of course, Frank Matcham’s magnificent Opera House.

After a spot of dinner, take your seats at the New Voices Buxton Festival Foundation Concert – a high energy popular programme performed by singers from Cape Town Opera and rising stars from the Royal Northern College of Music.

Saturday 6 July

Start your day with a lively discussion between natural history writers Mark Cocker and friends Jean McNeil and Tessa Boase who’ll be chatting about climate change and diversity in our countryside.

Follow with either with a gentle walk to one of the woods that surround Buxton or tuck into a leisurely lunch at one of our many eateries in town. While you digest your thoughts, treat yourself to a masterful recital by internationally renowned pianist Imogen Cooper.

For the evening choose from either the powerful opera Eugene Onegin, a classic tale of first love and painful rejection performed by acclaimed rising stars or watch the bite-sized Song at Six at the bandstand in the park.

Sunday 7 July

Refreshed and alive with ideas, join Sarah Ward, Elly Griffiths and William Shaw as they examine ‘place as character’ in crime fiction.  

Still in a literary mood, move to a bigger venue to find out all about the life of Georgiana Cavendish, the 5th Duchess of Devonshire and star of our 40th anniversary opera at biographer Amanda Foreman’s talk.

Curiosity piqued, you won’t want to miss the World Premiere of Georgiana – a story of obsession, the high life and celebrity with a scandalous menage a trois at its centre.

Round off your Buxton weekend of wonders with Lucy Worsley’s illustrated talk on Queen Victoria or Zorada Temmingh’s atmospheric organ accompaniment to the 1923 silent film of The Hunchback of Notre Dame.