AN inaugural theatre festival promises something for all the family with a packed line-up of events, theatre productions and music over four days next month.

Ripon Theatre Festival, which is due to take place from June 23-26, sees more than 20 professional theatre companies and acts taking part in a number of events and more than a dozen venues – from small back rooms and cafés to Fountains Abbey, the new Arts Hub, Ripon Library, green spaces and city streets.

Drama highlights include a visit from renowned radical theatre company Red Ladder from Leeds with their production of The Damned United, about Brian Clough’s relationship with Leeds United and made famous by the 2009 film starring Michael Sheen.

Open-air theatre specialists Illyria come to the Cloisters at Fountains Abbey with their production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and the recently-refurbished Arts Hub will play host to visits from two North Yorkshire-based touring companies, Fell-Foss Theatre and Pyramus & Thisbe Productions.

Children and families can enjoy a mixture of free and ticketed events for all ages. Ripon Library will welcome back Hoglets Theatre with a twilight show for little ones. Children are invited to come dressed for bed and to enjoy a gentle bedtime adventure with The Sleep Pirates show.

Two more theatre companies with family-focused productions will be in residence in Ripon Spa Gardens for Festival Saturday – Badapple Theatre Company present their charming Tales from the Great Wood, followed by Strange Twig Theatre Company with Winnie and Warwick’s Magical Menagerie.

Festival director Ian Holloway said: “We are delighted that businesses, local councils and trusts have got behind the festival to a degree that has enabled us to book a wide range of street theatre and walkabout acts, helping create a festival vibe throughout the day."

The range of professional street acts will be complemented by local community groups and musicians performing around the city streets and linking the three main Festival zones of Market Place, Spa Gardens and the Ripon Canal Basin.

Sunday events include pop-up dance theatre from Leeds-based ACCA ColLab to be performed in two café locations and the culmination of a Jubilee-themed living history project at the Ripon Workhouse Museum, before the Festival Finale at Fountains Abbey.

Sponsorship and local support means that many Festival performances are free to watch and prices for ticketed shows have been kept low.

Finance director, Mark Stibbards, of main sponsor Wolseley, said: "As Ripon’s largest employer, and a company with a longstanding heritage in the city, it fills us with great pride to be the main sponsor for this event.”

For more information, visit