The Festival Pass
For the first time, in 2024 we will have the Castle to ourselves - Bolton Castle will not be open to the general public on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday of the festival. So the only way to attend Medieval Music in the Dales is with a Festival Pass, which is available for 1,2 or 3 days. (The only exception is if you are a Participant and opt for a Participant Pass - more information below.)
The Festival Pass entitles you to admission to Bolton Castle on whatever days you have booked for, as well as access to the daytime concerts in St Oswald's Church and Queen Mary's Chamber, and all the workshops and talks on the relevant days. Finally, a Festival Pass also gives you access the Tavern scene in the evening throughout the Festival, in the Marquee and in the Castle Hearth, and it also allows you to book a camping pass to camp on site throughout the festival.
So, the Festival Pass covers almost everything but there are some things that you still need to book separately:
the evening concerts
one-to-one individual tuition sessions
Everything else is included in the Festival Pass.
The easiest thing to get wrong is the evening concerts - these ARE NOT included in the Festival Pass - you MUST buy a separate ticket for these.
You can book for everything you want online when the Box Office opens, and will be able to download a ticket and confirmation of each element. You should bring this ticket and confirmation with you to the festival.
Concerts and Castle Stages - what's the difference?
Firstly, attendance at all or any of these is included in your Festival Pass.
Most concerts take place in St Oswald's Church, and feature the 'headline' bands and performers. Daytime concerts last 50-60 minutes. You can't book for a particular concert in advance (unless you are a Friend). Instead, if you have a Festival Pass, just come to the Church, at the earliest 10 minutes before the concert is due to start, and show your Pass.
We also have our Chamber Concerts, featuring more intimate performances by exceptional players. These take place at 5.30 pm on Friday and Saturday, in Queen Mary's Chamber.
The Castle Stages are performance areas inside Bolton Castle:
The Whole Gamut Tavern is in the Marquee, and hosts louder and livelier sounds
the Castle Hearth is in the Old Kitchen (next to the Castle Gift Shop on the First Floor of the Castle), and it hosts quieter and more chilled sounds
Performances at the Castle Stages are more informal. Each performance lasts from 20-30 minutes, and the Castle Stages are home to the many Performers both amateur and professional attending the Festival. Just turn up at any time and make yourself comfortable!
Participant Passes are provided to performers on the Castle Stages, luthiers and crafts people. They are an option to attend the Festival for free but they offer no access to the concerts or workshops. Anyone with a Participant Pass who wants to upgrade to a Festival Pass and therefore get full access can get a Festival Pass at a 50% discount. Full information on this available when you register to attend as a Castle Stage Performer, Luthier or Craftsperson.
The main point for all information and help is the Festival Desk in the entrance to the Marquee. You can also look out for any of the Festival Stewards, who will be wearing clearly marked lanyards. Any Steward should be able to point you in the right direction, even if that is only to the Festival Desk.
The principal venue is Bolton Castle itself. Here you will find
the Castle Stages,
the Instrument Makers
the Marquee containing the Festival Desk, Tavern, Festival Reception and Caterers
Queen Mary's Chamber for workshops and the Chamber Concerts
the Tea Room.
The other venues are
St Oswald's Church - adjacent to the Castle - for workshops and concerts
Castle Bolton Meeting Room (at the far end of the village) for one-to-ones
Really sorry, but Bolton Castle does not permit dogs in the castle or gardens. You are welcome to keep your dogs in the carpark or camping areas, and there are lots of lovely walks to hand.
When you arrive you'll register for the event and receive a wristband. Please put this on right away (help will be on hand if required). This wristband will ensure you entry to festival venues for the days that you are registered for and get you any discounts if applicable. Please show your wristband whenever you want to enter the Castle or Church, or to attend the Tavern in the evening.
money and shopping
Please note there are no cash points at Bolton Castle. The nearest money machines are at Leyburn (six miles away). It's a good idea to bring cash, but we will have card machines available in the Tavern and at the Festival Desk. Likewise you'll need to go to Leyburn for supermarkets, chemists etc.
tickets on the day
Depending on availability there will be Festival Passes available to purchase on the day from the Festival Desk in the Marquee, as well as tickets for evening concerts. Festival Passes purchased on the day incur a slight premium, costing an extra £5 each.
The Yorkshire weather is a law unto itself and can change very quickly. However, if the weather does turn bad, the Castle has various wet weather alternatives for outside activities. The weather on Saturday in 2022 was absolutely abysmal, but we still all had a great time! It's an excuse to light the fires for a start... Please come prepared to wrap up warmly if necessary.