Bringing ‘Once Upon A Time’ to the Dales

By September 17, 2014

Written & Spoken Word. Leeds.

[Image: Lanterns by Spiral Designs – to be used in Candlelit Story Trail, see below © Settle Stories]


Since 2010, arts & heritage charity Settle Stories has brought the miracle of ‘once upon a time’ to the rural town of Settle.

Nestled in one of the most scenic areas of the Yorkshire Dales, Settle is a small and charming market town that plays host to an abundance of Arts events throughout the year. Settle is home to a beautiful Victorian Music Hall (Victoria Hall) – a venue for drama, comedy, music, workshops, community events and indoor markets; the Museum of North Craven Life (The Folly); Flowers of the Dales Festival; Flowerpot Festival; Settle Folk Weekend; the Settle-Carlisle Walking Festival and every Autumn, the Settle Storytelling Festival.

On October 10th, Settle Storytelling Festival – the largest storytelling festival in the North of England – will once again descend on the town for a magical weekend of extraordinary stories, music, poetry, science, interactive workshops, arts, craft and creative ideas.

The festival brings top storytellers and world-renowned authors and artists from around the globe to provoke, inspire and broaden horizons of adults and children alike. Now in its fifth year, 2014’s festival will involve over 50 artists from over 5 continents throughout the weekend.

I want to give you just a glimpse of what you can expect from the 2014 Settle Storytelling Festival. As well as the wealth of author and artist events which are all detailed on the Settle Stories website, here are just a few of the unique events that have really caught my eye…


Hannah Earnshaw and Ryan MacDonald are 2 of 3 people in the UK that have been shortlisted from 200,000 applicants, for the Mars One Mission. If selected they will enter an elite training programme to prepare for a series of manned missions to Mars in the 2020s. The first crew is scheduled to depart in 2024: it will be the first human settlement on Mars. Mind-blowing no? Astronomer Gurbir Singh will join Hannah and Ryan to talk about the space technology that could send them to Mars. This really sounds like an amazing opportunity not to be missed, to meet two people who may soon be training to fly to Mars!
When? Saturday 11th Oct, 3 – 4.30pm @ Friends’ Meeting House


This sounds particularly interesting for first-timers to Settle. An opportunity to use your smart phone/tablet to download clues and follow a story trail. Uncover a tale of long lost friends on a homecoming to Settle.
When? All weekend @ Settle Marketplace
* The team will be around to lend a hand to those a little unsure of the technology @ 12.15pm on Saturday & Sunday.


‘Jack & the Beanstalk’ is not the only story about Jack… who knew?! Grammy-nominated storyteller and musician Jerry Harmon’s great-great-great-grandfather Council Harmon, born in 1803, brought the Jack Tales to the United States from England. “Jack and the Beanstalk” is the only one of these most people know but there are many more tales of the lad who lives by his wits, defeating his enemies and tricking his way into an easy life. Join Jerry for a rare treat of stories, songs and jokes from the Appalachian mountains of North Carolina.
When? Saturday 11th Oct, 7.30 – 9.30pm @ Settle Victoria Hall


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Jerry Harmon © Settle Stories


A great way to start your festival weekend. Weave your way through the beautiful cobbled streets of Settle by candlelight, led by Festival Director, Sita Brand, who will be spinning yarns as you go (see featured image, top of page).
When? Friday 10th Oct, 6 – 7pm @ Settle Victoria Hall


This sounds like a perfect Sunday to me. Sit back with a homemade cake and a cuppa. Listen to Grammy-nominated musician and storyteller Jerry Harmon’s one off stories and Brazillian storyteller Ana Maria Lines’ performance of ‘Barbequed Husbands’!
When? Sunday 12th Oct, 3.30 – 5pm @ St. John’s Church Hall


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Ana Maria Lines © Settle Stories


These are just five of my top picks for the weekend… I could easily go on. But expect to see all sorts of events and workshops from the likes of Jerry Harmon, Jonathan Kay, Adrian Beckingham and Bob Hartman, music from Holy Moly & The Crackers, Bedtime Tales, multi-media performance Voyage, songwriting workshops, craft fairs… and so much more.

From the Settle Stories website you can download the full 2014 Programme – also available as an audio brochure, a map of Settle listing all venues, a list of local accommodation and places to eat, and not forgetting good places to shop!

The Settle Storytelling Festival really seems like a weekend that will captivate all – adults, children, families, couples… there is no doubt you will find something to take anyone out of the ordinary and into a world of the extraordinary.

The easiest way to get to Settle is by train, taking just under an hour direct from Leeds (alternatively it’s only a 50 minute car journey). In easy reach of Manchester, Leeds, Lancaster and York, it won’t take long to take yourself out of busy city life, to the idyllic surroundings of the Yorkshire Dales. Visit for train information.

Kate Matthews


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Visit for all information and to purchase tickets.


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