We’ve been putting on Grand Northern Ukulele Festivals since 2013. We are busy planning the next one but thought we’d share some of the joy from our past events. On this page you’ll find a brief description of each (and what we think made it unique). If you click on the images for each year, you can see a bit more detail about that particular year.
Big, Bold, Inclusive, Fun - There's GNUFFING else like it on the ukulele calendar!
Our 2018 Festival
Our 2018 festival was actually epic! We commissioned new work which led to the world premier of Andy Eastwood’s ‘SpaceScape’ (a piece for ukulele and string quartet performed live on our mainstage with the Didsbury String Quartet). We also welcomed Peter Luongo to the UK for his festival debut. He’s famous for his starring role in The Mighty Uke documentary and for directing The Langley Ensemble in Canada. Pete McCarty, widely loved in the American South, introduced a bunch of new participatory singalong events for all ages. We welcomed Hawaiians Jay Molina, Bryan Tolentino and others to GNUF for the first time. They were even featured live on ITV’s Calendar on the Friday night. Just prior to the festival, we received the sole Epic Award for England from Voluntary Arts in recognition of the work our voluntary team of festival organisers do in putting on the event. At the festival itself, we were also formally presented with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service which we received in 2017. As with previous years, we were based at the Lawrence Batley Theatre and we used venues all over town. We had over 50 acts, well over a hundred individual artists and nearly a thousand people at festival events across the weekend.
Our 2017 festival was truly one for the record books. We became something a bit special (a multi-award-winning festival). In early Spring, we were named Best Ukulele Festival in the UKE Magazine/Got a Ukulele Awards and shortly after the festival we received a Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service. Once again, our festival was based at the Lawrence Batley Theatre and we used venues all over town including Vinyl Tap, The Head of Steam, The Sportsman Pub and more. We had over 50 acts, well over a hundred individual artists and nearly a thousand people at festival events across the weekend. World class artists performed including Australia’s Ryo Montgomery, Victoria Vox (USA), Percy Copley (FRANCE/UK), BBC2 Young Folk Award Nominee Amelia Coburn, rising star Eat.My.Uke and dozens more. We had stages hosted by Mim’s Ukes, Tricity Vogue, unplugthewood, The Original Ukulele Songs project, Nicola & David from Brighton’s Paddle Round the Pier (and that’s not the half of it!). Our Main Stage was hosted once again by the amazing Heidi Bang Tidy. We had over a dozen acts under the age of 25 across all of our stages. We could go on!
Our 2016 festival saw us returning to the Lawrence Batley Theatre and venues around Huddersfield. We had over 45 acts, over a hundred individual artists and nearly a thousand people at festival events across the weekend. We featured world class artists from within and beyond the UK, Hope & Social performed their ukulele festival debut as did Biscuithead & the Biscuit Badgers, Percy Copley, Opera-lele and more. International headliners Danielle Ate the Sandwich, The Flea Bitten Dawgs and The Quiet American wowed crowds. Once again, Heidi Bang Tidy compered and this year we added a new Conversations series where artists & audiences talked about things that matter.
Our third festival, GNUF 2015 saw us based at the excellent Lawrence Batley Theatre in Huddersfield for the first time. We also grew, with a total of 7 stages around town, 39 acts and over a hundred individual artists. International headliners Sarah Maisel & Craig Chee, Quiet American and Manitoba Hal were joined by acts from around the UK and the rest of the world. Once again, Heidi Bang Tidy compered and this year we added a new open mic stage hosted by Mim’s Ukes.
Our second GNUF saw us move to Huddersfield Town Hall and our headliners, The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, saw a standing ovation. We had more visitors that year from Halifax Nova Scotia than from Halifax West Yorkshire. We also added a fringe stage (at Vinyl Tap) that year and the festival pub (the Head of Steam).
GNUF 2013 – Our very first GNUF
Our very first festival was held in Pontefract (at the Town Hall). It was quite a bit smaller than we are now (only about 300 people came) but it was the start of something that we truly love. Our performers that year included Uke Box, Yan Yalego, Ukulele Uff & Lonesome Dave, Manitoba Hal and more.