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Affiliated to the British & International Federation of Festivals for Music, Dance and Speech

Important Dates


1 March 2022 - Closing date for entries to the Wharfedale Festival of Performing Arts Speech, Drama and Music Festival 2022.

17th- 20th May 2022 - 2022 Wharfedale Festival of Performing Arts Speech, Drama and Music Festival.

To celebrate the 70th festival in 1976 Robert Lantaff prepared a short history up to that date. A number of interesting events and developments have occurred since then which are well worth reporting and have therefore been included in this update (1996). Since the historical background obviously remains the same, I have merely included the original text with suitable amendments and additions.

In this series of articles, "I" refers to Robert Lantaff and the original copyright remains with him. These articles are repeated for anyone interested in the history of the Wharfedale Festival.


Any visitor to this festival will readily observe that it is extremely well endowed with trophies, all of which are on display at the beginning of the festival week. The oldest and most prominent was presented by the Ilkley Tradesmen in 1913 for competition by Male Voice Choirs. This magnificent piece presents display problems and on at least two occasions it has fallen down causing much commotion especially in 1914 when it collapsed during - appropriately enough - the Male Voice Choir Competition.

Certificates for competitors gaining 80 marks or over were introduced in 1925 and up to then cash prizes were only awarded to choirs and orchestras. For a year or two cash prizes to choirs were replaced by grants for travelling expenses. This arrangement was carried out with the agreement of the National Association of Choirs, but in spite of official backing many choirs disliked the idea and entries dropped alarmingly. Sir Walford Davies was so opposed to cash prizes that he eventually declined adjudicating engagements at festivals where these existed.

During the post war period cash prizes were introduced for all classes, this culminating in at least one committee resignation as a matter of principle. The present practice is to award money only as special Memorial Prizes.

Robert Lantaff (C) 1976 & 1996

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Festival Secretaries

General Secretary
Mrs Patricia Dibb
01943 865180


Speech & Drama Secretaries
Mrs Julie James
01943 433444

Mrs Elizabeth Whiteley
01943 830780

Piano Festival Secretary

Piano Festival Secretary


Piano Festival