An exciting new addition to the northern festival scene, Aerial Festival is bringing a mix of contemporary music, literature and performance to the Lake District this September (rearranged due to the ongoing Coronavirus situation). A well-curated selection of world-renowned artists, from Kate Tempest to Hayden Thorpe, will perform in venues across the town of Ambleside and Rydal, with individually ticketed and free shows allowing audiences to plan a weekend escape to the Lakes on their own terms.
Hayden Thorpe is top of our list in terms of Aerial’s musical happenings. The ex-frontman of Wild Beasts (one of the most original and inventive British guitar bands of the noughties), Thorpe launched his gleaming solo career just last year. Comprising elegant piano, glistening synths and dulcet vocals, his debut album, Diviner, pulsates with a tender mysticism, and has been widely acclaimed. We’re expecting great things from his performance at St Mary’s Parish Church.
Also at St Mary’s, we look forward to a multi-media spectacle in the form of The Lark Ascending. This will see Richard King’s acclaimed book retold via a seamless blend of music, visuals, spoken word and dance from a cross-genre group of artists. Among them is singer-songwriter Vashti Bunyan (best known for her massively influential 1970 album Just Another Diamond Day) and the coolest choral collective in London, the Deepthroat Choir.
Another big draw of the inaugural Aerial Festival is Kate Tempest. The ground-breaking spoken word performer, poet, recording artist, novelist and playwright has gone from strength to strength in recent years. She was named a Next Generation Poet by the Poetry Book Society, won the Ted Hughes Award for Brand New Ancients, and her debut novel The Bricks That Built The Houses was a Sunday Times bestseller. Get ready to be moved and empowered by her spoken word set at St Mary’s.
Other exciting Aerial events include Marra, a new commission from artist Natalie Sharp AKA Lone Taxidermist. At Ambleside Tavern, she’ll present a multi-sensory installation and performance inspired by her experience growing up as a first-generation immigrant in West Cumbria. We’ll also hear from co-founder of The Quietus, Luke Turner, who will explore the wild music coming out of the UK’s urban fringes at The Ambleside Inn. Over at Nab Cottage, meanwhile, Autumn Richardson and Richard Skelton will celebrate 10 years of their work at Corbel Stone Press, with music and film interspersed with readings from their publications.
Finally, an event that sees Aerial take to the water. Exploring sounds and words aboard a classic Windamere steamer, Caught by the River will feature poet Helen Mort and novelist Amy Liptrot, both of whom will read from their award-winning work. There will also be an acoustic set by Jack Cooper, formerly of the much-loved band Ultimate Painting. These days, Cooper blends bucolic folk, experimental jazz and psych-tinged indie rock with Modern Nature, whose debut album How To Live sounds like Beak> via Radiohead circa In Rainbows. Hosting the event will be music journalist and band manager, Roy Wilkinson.
Making quite an entrance with its inaugural programme, Aerial Festival is an easy win for those looking for a cultural weekend away this spring!
Because of the ongoing Coronavirus crisis, we are unable to bring you our usual recommendations for things to do in Manchester and the North. Our thoughts at this time are with our readers and with the organisations and businesses who make the North of England a great place to live and visit. We hope you stay well and look forward to sharing more unmissable events and places with you later in the year.
Here’s our guide to supporting organisations in Manchester and the North.
Please note – many of the venues on our site will be closed and events either postponed or cancelled. Please check the venue website for details.