Staithes Festival of Arts and Heritage

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

During the weekend some 100+ cottages in the village become temporary art galleries in a unique selling exhibition. Staithes heritage is also celebrated in fossils, fishing, historic photographs and film shows.

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

Glenn Kilpatrick

Staithes Festival FAQs

This is where we hope you will find the answers to all your questions about the  Staithes Festival.  If you need further information you can contact us on
You can keep up to date with the developing Festival programme by logging into our Facebook page and by checking back to this website which we will update as the festival programme fills up.

When is the festival?

The festival opens on Friday 11th September between 7-8.30pm and continues throughout the weekend of  12th and 13th September 2020. Galleries will be open from 10am-5.30pm on Saturday and Sunday. Events will continue into the evening.  

Is there a fee?

Yes – The fee for artists in 2020 is £250 per artist. Entry is free for students and full time Staithes residents. The fee is paid in advance by artists who register with the Festival and there is no commission on sales. For this an artist ‘buys’ a spot on the map that all visitors will use to navigate their way round the village. It will include a sample image and their venue number. This website will also feature an image and an artists biography. There is no entry fee for visitors. 

 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 stands at  10% and should be declared at the end of the Festival and returns made to the Festival Treasurer either in Staithes before you leave or soon after. Money raised during the festival will go back into the Festival funds to support next year’s Festival and to good causes in the village. The committee are all unpaid volunteers.

 How does the Festival work?

We encourage artists to find their own ‘gallery’ either through friends in the village or by renting a cottage. We have a list of properties on the Plan Your Visit page.  From thereon it is up to owners and artists to make their own arrangements. We open the festival on Friday evening and galleries open 10am-5.30pm on Saturday and Sunday. Beyond that, it is up to property owners and artists to make arrangements between themselves: how many exhibits will be shown, where and how they will be hung or displayed and who will be in attendance during the Festival.

 What happens on Friday evening?

The Festival launches on Friday evening between 7pm and 8.30pm. In the past we have called this a preview evening but we are now calling it the 'open evening' in which everyone is welcome.  Friday evening is usually a convivial affair, an opportunity to invite friends, colleagues, patrons and residents of the village, to view gallery. It is up to the artists and venue owner to send out invitations to their contacts and to 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 organize 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. The organisers can no longer find venues for artists.  

Who curates the exhibitions?

It is for the artist to ensure the gallery is manned throughout the Festival. Normally the artist 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 have found it  helpful to have a friend to help so that they get a chance to enjoy the Festival.

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 have been told that  insurers respond differently. Some will be happy to have been 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 the Festival prior to the festival you can email us on or in person at the Staithes Gallery.

Must all entries be through the web site?

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

How can I find out what’s on?

As artists register and we confirm speakers and events, these will be put on the website and our Facebook page.  The Gallery page  is where you will be able to view the work of participating artists and a short biography. 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 within the village a week or so before the Festival. During 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.