Staithes Festival of Arts and Heritage

Staithes Festival has established itself as one of the friendliest festivals on the coast – a must-see event in the regional arts calendar.

This year it's 15-17 September 2023.

During the weekend the doors of cottages in the village are thrown open as pop-up art galleries in a unique selling exhibition. 

The heritage of Staithes is celebrated through a programme of walks, talks, historic photographs, film shows, and a demonstration of how to make a lobster pot!

North York Moors, Scarborough Borough Council and Welcome to Yorkshire
Heart Bottles

Glenn Kilpatrick

Staithes Festival FAQs

 If you need further information, contact us on Keep up to date with the developing Festival programme by logging into our Facebook page and by clicking back here. We'll update this site as the programme is confirmed. 

When is the festival?

The festival / galleries open on Friday 15th September 7-8.30pm and runs throughout the weekend of 16-17 September 2023. Galleries are open 10am-5.30pm Saturday and Sunday. Events will continue into the evening.  

What does it cost?

Yes – the registration fees are £250 for an artist not sharing a venue. If two artists are sharing, it's £150 per artist. If three or more artists are sharing, it's £100 per artist. Full-time students and full time Staithes residents (those living within five miles and on the electoral roll) don't pay the registration fee but we do ask for 10% commission of their takings. The fee is paid in advance. Commercial caterers pay £250, and pop up tearooms pay £10% commission on their takings. The registration fee is vital for paying the festival's costs. 

We don't charge visitors to get in but we may charge them to get out! Collection boxes will be around the village - please make a contribution to ensure the festival continues.

What do I get for my fee?

The fee buys artists a spot on the festival map that all visitors will use to navigate their way around the village. It will include an image of their work, link to their website and number of their venue. We will be distributing thousands of programmes. Our website will also feature an image and an artist's biography. We anticipate thousands of hits before the festival. We will also be doing press around the event, so there's every chance any of the artists could be featured / picked up.

 How do I pay?

You will be directed to pay the registration fee when you complete the online application. You will find all the details and a guide on how to register on the Online Registration page. Commission on sales for students and Staithes residents is 10% of takings and should be declared at the end of the festival. Returns should be made to the Treasurer either in Staithes before you leave or soon after. Money raised during the festival will go back into the pot to support next year’s festival. Surplus will be donated to community projects. 

 How does the Festival work?

Artists find their own gallery either through friends in the village or by renting a cottage. We have a non-exhaustive list of properties / holiday companies on the Plan Your Visit page.  Artists and owners must make their own hire / lending arrangements, plus how much is shown and how it is to be hung / displayed plus who will look after the gallery.  We open the festival on Friday evening and galleries open 10am-5.30pm on Saturday and Sunday. 

 What happens on Friday evening?

The Festival launches on Friday evening 7pm-8.30pm. It's usually a convivial affair, an opportunity to invite friends, colleagues, patrons and residents of the village, to view your gallery. It is up to the artists and venue owner to send out invitations to their contacts and encourage visitors to view and possibly buy on the first evening of the festival, but all visitors are welcome. A glass of something and a nibble helps the convivial atmosphere, but there is no obligation. It is up to the artist and the venue owner to organise the preview as they wish. 

Who chooses the art?

There is no selection procedure, this is an open festival. Artists who wish to exhibit must register via the website and pay the registration fee.

How do I find a venue?

Artists should find their own venue  before applying to the festival. 

Who curates the exhibitions?

It is for the artist to ensure the gallery is manned throughout the festival. Normally they will look after their own show. If venue owners are there, they may agree to stand-in from time to time, but there is no obligation. Some artists bring friends to help so they can have a peek in other galleries.

Do other festivals work the same way?

Yes. Our inspiration is Pittenweem in Fife, Scotland. Like Staithes, Pittenweem is a fishing village with a collection of small cottages. They began with a few houses opening as galleries and now have over 100 artists exhibiting in private and public buildings making a valuable contribution to the economy and profile of the village. Other festivals operate on similar lines, including the Buxton Festival Fringe.

 What about insurance?

The festival takes out public liability insurance to cover the event.  Venue owners may wish to inform their own insurers about the festival. We understand insurers respond differently. Some are just happy to be informed, some will ask for an additional premium to cover the weekend, others will not want to insure at all. The festival’s public liability insurance will cover incidents concerning the public, however it will not cover damage if something gets broken.This would be a matter for individual house owners and their insurers.

How do I contact the Festival organisers?

During the festival, the Festival Office will be outside the Staithes Gallery on the High Street. The Treasurer's office will this year be in Seacrest, Barrass Square. If you wish to contact us prior to the festival, email 

Must all entries be through the website?

Yes. We have now established a simple online registration system and all entries should be made online. If you have a problem with this contact Artists failing to register will not be considered part of the festival. 

How can I find out what’s on?

As artists register and we confirm speakers and events, these will appear on our website and our Facebook page. Our Twitter feed is @Staithesfest.

Where can I find a programme?

The festival programme with artists, maps and events, will be available in shops and businesses in the village a week or so before the festival. Stewards will be on duty at the top and bottom of the village with programmes. There is a small charge for the programme that goes towards festival funds.

I'm a busker and would like a pitch, how do I find one?

There will be designated pitches for music/entertainers. These will last for no longer than an hour. All buskers must register with the festival. To register, please contact Chris Wade at