it's your festival to enjoy as you please...
This page contains lots of information on the practicalities of the festival - how to book, getting here, accommodation, parking and finding your way around. There's more information on the FAQs page. But if we've missed out anything crucial which you need to know, just drop us a line and we'll both fill you in and update the site.
Medieval Music in the Dales has something for everyone:
If you want to perform - you can, as a performer on the Castle Stages. These are the performance areas in the Marquee and Old Kitchen areas. Perform solo, or come as a band. NB: you've got to register in advance as a performer. Get in touch if you are interested.
If you want to listen and enjoy - by all means. Enjoy the concerts in the Church, soak up the sounds on the Castle Stages, and enjoy the informal evening scene in the Tavern.
If you want to learn, you can choose from a great range of workshops and talks
if you want to buy, there's an unrivalled selection of medieval instruments and musical accessories from the Instrument Makers, plus music books, CDs and some incomparable festival souvenirs from the Festival Desk.
and if you want to help there are free places available for volunteer Stewards, and lots of chances to help out on a more informal basis. Being a Steward offers the chance to attend for free - we ask for 20 hours of work between Thursday afternoon and Monday morning but you get a free Festival Pass along with other benefits. Get in touch to find out more
food and drink
You can choose from:
The Bolton Castle Tea Room, open 10am-5pm each day
Our festival Breakfast Bar, open around 8am-10am on Friday, Saturday and Sunday
Granny's Kitchen in the Marquee with pies, pasties and all their other delights, from around 12 noon to 8pm on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Sun of Seitan in the Marquee, with delicious vegan wraps, from around 12 noon to 8pm on Friday, Saturday and Sunday
Proper Pizzas will be on hand with their delicious fresh-cooked fare from around 6pm - 8pm on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Vegan options available
The Tavern in the Marquee is open from 12 noon each day selling a good range of ales, wines and soft drinks; there is also a small bar at the Hearth Stage during the day.
If you came in 2023, please note that there are more evening catering options this year on Friday, Saturday and Sunday - we are not going to run out again!
You are welcome to camp at the castle and indeed it's the best way to enjoy the whole do as you are right there throughout. Please note that Camping is ONLY available to Festival Pass holders and if you want to camp, you MUST book in advance - you should buy your camping pass(es) when you book. There is hardstanding available for motorhomes, campers and caravans and grass for tents. We have a small shower unit booked in for the festival as well as an extra toilet block, as well as the usual water and toilets close at hand. There is a fee of £25 per person for camping ( half price for under 18s, under 12s go free with accompanying adults) which allows you to camp on site from 3pm on the Wednesday before the festival through to 11am on the Monday after the festival.
hotels, b&b, self-catering
Wensleydale is a busy tourist destination and there are many options for accommodation. However, it can book up early so get it organised as soon as you can. Here are our up-to-date listings of b&bs, guest houses and hotels, but there are also lots of self-catering options.
To be honest, it may be best starting with the large online services like booking.com, but it is always worthwhile contacting the provider direct for the best prices.
Wensleydale does not have the best transport links. The nearest town with regular bus links is Leyburn, six miles away and it is possible to get to Bolton Castle from Leyburn on the 'Little White Bus' on Mondays-Saturdays - but there isn't a service from Leyburn to the village on Sundays, though there is a service from Hawes (in the other direction!). The nearest mainline train stations are at Darlington and Northallerton, which both have excellent connections to London and Scotland on the East Coast mainline, and across the Pennines to Manchester. These details are to the best of my knowledge correct as of September 2023 but will be updated in the spring of 2024 when timetables are updated.
Here are the most useful timetables for public transport:
Coming from Darlington:
Arriva X26/X27 Bus to Richmond. From Richmond you can connect to the Dales & District 159 Bus to Ripon, which stops in Leyburn. From Leyburn you can connect to the Little White Bus Wensleydale Voyager (LWB) 156 Bus, which stops in Redmire and in Castle Bolton right by the castle if you ask the driver. This last is not that frequent and does not run on Sundays.
Alternatively, if you can manage to come at the right time of day, stay on the X25/X27 to the large Tesco Extra in Catterick Garrison. You can then pick up the LWB 156 from there, leaving at 1410.
Coming from Northallerton:
Dales & District 73 Bus from County Hall in Northallerton (just over the road from the train station) to Bedale. From Bedale you can connect to the Little White Bus 155 Bus to Leyburn, where you can again connect to the 156 to Redmire and Castle Bolton; ask the driver to be set down in Castle Bolton village.
Coming from Hawes
There are buses daily to and from Hawes: Monday to Saturday it's the LWB 156, and on Sundays you can get the Wensleydale Explorer Bus 855 which goes to/from Castle Bolton and Garsdale Station - which also connects with mainline services.
Leaving the Castle
So long as you book in advance (firstname.lastname@example.org) you can pick up the LWB 156 in Castle Bolton Village at around 9am, 11.15am, 1.40pm and 4.20pm. This will get you to Leyburn, where you can connect with the 159 to Richmond (and from there to Darlington)
On Sundays only, you can take the 856 Wensleydale Flyer to travel direct between Leyburn and Northallerton, or the Wensleydale Explorer 855 towards Garsdale Station.
Here's a link for taxis and private hire in and around Leyburn.
Parking at Bolton Castle is handy, but it isn't limitless and it takes some organising to fit everyone in efficiently. So when you book you will be asked for full details of your vehicle(s), and be allocated an area in which to park. When you arrive, the Stewards will show you to the appropriate area - please help them out by sticking to these instructions!