Buxton International Festival of Opera, Music and Literature


Buxton International Festival is one of the UK’s leading arts events taking place in July each year; a cultural celebration of the very best opera, music and literature taking place in the beautiful Peak District. The Festival features the most promising rising stars in the arts world, as well as prominent international singers, artists and literary figures performing in a packed summer programme of in excess of 120 events over a 17-day period to an audience of over 30,000.

The Festival produces three operas alongside a series of concerts given by many leading British and international musicians, and a literary series featuring leading writers and thinkers. Festival venues include the exquisite Matcham-designed Buxton Opera House, St John’s Church and the Pavilion Arts Centre. Together with the Buxton Festival Fringe, the spa town is a haven for arts enthusiasts throughout July each year. The Festival also presents an annual autumn Book Weekend and Outreach Programme.

In April, 2017 Buxton International Festival was named as one of 2017’s top 50 must-see events around the globe by music critics at The Times. To read more about this click here.

For more information on the festival and to book tickets go to www.buxtonfestival.co.uk.

View along Water St toward the Buxton Opera House. Image courtesy of Mo El Faith.
Image of the Buxton Opera House at night during the Buxton International Festival.
Launch of BIF 2017 inside the Opera House.


The 2018 Buxton International Festival will take place from 6th to 22nd July 2018. 

Opening Night Gala

The Festival will open with a Gala evening presented in association with the Buxton Opera house and Opera North. Patron of the Festival’s 40th Anniversary Appeal, Lesley Garrett, soloists from Opera North and the Northern Chamber Orchestra conducted by Nicholas Kok, will present a programme of music from the world of operetta, classic musicals and cabaret. The evening will take the audience from Berlin to Broadway and include music by Cole Porter, Richard Rodgers, Leonard Bernstein and Kurt Weill, celebrating the opening of the 39th Buxton International Festival in style. 


ALZIRA by Giuseppe Verdi (1813 – 1901)
Verdi’s Alzira completes our trilogy of Verdi titles (following Giovanna d’Arco in 2015 and Macbeth this year), conducted by the Festival’s Artistic Director Stephen Barlow, and directed by internationally renowned Elijah Moshinsky. Based on Voltaire’s play Alzire, ou les Américains, it is set in 16th century Peru, where the love affair between two Peruvian natives, Zamoro and Alzira, is set against a fight for independence by the tribesmen against the Spanish rule of the conquistadors. Described by The New Grove Guide to Verdi and His Operas as ‘an opera decisively ahead of its time’, Alzira finds Verdi experimenting with a realist style that makes it ripe for revival.

IDOMENEO by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-91)
Mozart’s Idomeneo, King of Crete was the 25-year-old Mozart’s thirteenth opera and marks his maturity as a dramatic composer. In the aftermath of the Trojan War, King Idomeneo seeks to avoid a terrible destiny for his son, Idamante, by ordering the sacrifice of Ilya, a refugee princess and the daughter of his enemy, not realising she and his son are in love. In a plot that plunges the characters (and the audience) into extreme emotional states, Idomeneo features some of Mozart’s most varied and inventive music.

For all the Opera dates click here.


Buxton International Festival has chamber music at its heart and recitals of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and particularly Schubert, feature each year. The Fitzwilliam and Consone Quartets both make a welcome return to the Festival, together with a special full day of concerts by the Fibonacci Sequence

The 16-day Music Series at Buxton International Festival 2018 is a dynamic programme of classical artists including pianists Christian BlackshawJoanna MacGregor and Stephen Kovacevich, flautist Ashley Solomon, violinist Lizzie Ball.

Horn and piano duo Alexei Watkins and BBC Young Composer of the Year Alex Woolf perform at the Festival for the first time

The Festival is delighted to have engaged a selection of up and coming singers in classical music including BBC New Generation Artists Kathryn Rudge and Ashley Riches, Jennifer Davis, together with established names including Roderick Williams and Lucy Schaufer

To see all the dates for the music click here.


In the penultimate year before the 40th anniversary celebrations in 2019, Buxton International Festival presents a packed Books Series featuring household names and an exhilarating new debates series in association with the British Academy. The debates seek to revive the spirit of the revolutionary Georgian Coffee House, the social network of its day. The series will be curated by historian Peter Hennessy and will feature a dynamic mix of speakers brought together with the Buxton audience to explore how we look at history, ourselves and even reality itself.

Talks cover topics including women in society, composer Giuseppe Verdi, royal history, War time politics, the nation’s view of archaeology, the debauched Georgian spa experience, architectural gems of Britain’s 100 best stations,  ‘dollar princesses’ Mary Shelley, poet Lord Byron, Anton Chekhov’s 4,000-mile journey across Russia in 1890, the soul of the American nation, the collapse of democracy, FIFA’s extraordinary history, mountains, despoiling our landscape, Francis Willughby, the world’s first ornithologist and the lifecycle of the endangered curlew.

A selection of the talks will take place in the exquisite Matcham-designed opera house in the heart of Buxton. Alternate venues include the Pavilion Arts Centre (a purpose-built performance space), the historic Pump Room of the Buxton Spa and, new for 2018, the elaborately decorated Spielgeltent in the Pavilion Gardens.

The annual Buxton Oldie Literary Lunch on 8th July will take place at the historic Old Hall Hotel in the centre of Buxton and will include Leanda de Lisle on Charles I, Miles Goslett on how allegedly the establishment may have covered up the David Kelly affair and Dan Cruickshank on Chicago’s most iconic skyscraper.

To see all the book dates click here.

Orchestra in the Opera House's orchestra pit. Image courtesy of Richard Hubert Smith.
Performers in St John's Church. Image courtesy of Richard Hubert Smith.
Audience in the Pavilion Arts Centre.

More about the Festival…


The Buxton Festival has been presented annually since 1979. The brainchild of Malcolm Fraser, the Head of Opera at the Royal Northern College of Music, who had a vision of making the dilapidated Buxton Opera House, which had been used as a cinema for most of its life, into the home of an annual opera festival. With the help of Welsh National Opera conductor, Anthony Hose, he set about making his dream a reality. The Artistic Director is the acclaimed conductor, Stephen Barlow.

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