Wirksworth is a Derbyshire market town rich in history. Lead was mined here in Roman times, the parish church, which dates from about 653, is sited on the junction of at least five ancient trackways. In 1306 the town was granted a charter by King Edward I to hold an annual three-day fair in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary (to whom the parish church is dedicated). It is this charter that still sets the dates for today’s Wirksworth Festival – a celebration of arts and creativity by and for the local community.
Wirksworth Festival began in 1979, with a £1000 grant from the Town Council, a small group of people doing everything, and a programme on a folded piece of blue paper. In 1994 a group of local artists decided to show work in their own homes during the Festival and invite artists from outside the town to join in – the Art Trail was born!
Since its beginnings, the Festival has evolved thanks to the hard work and commitment of many people. Come Festival time an army of over 100 volunteers help make this annual event happen. We now host over 150 artists and welcome thousands of visitors, but it still remains firmly rooted in the local community.
The Coronavirus global pandemic saw Wirksworth Festival go online for the first time in 2020 but we were thrilled to return to the ‘real’ world in 2022, welcoming artists and visitors back to our town.