Arts festivals for autumn - six of the best

Updated: 
Raindance Film Festival launch

You don't have to wallow in mud while listening to blaring music to enjoy a festival these days you know, there are gatherings to suit more highbrow tastes too – from classical music to literature, film and theatre. Here's our pick of coming events, both big and small...


Raindance Film Festival, London - Sep 23 to Oct 4
The pun on the Sundance Film Festival might be obvious, but the programme at the 23rd Raindance Festival in London is less so. Promoting and celebrating the best of independent and alternative cinema, the festival mixes industry events with panels, talks and screenings appealing to film fans too. Around 100 feature films and more than 150 short films will be shown over its two-week run – including the world premiere of US spy thriller Newcomer and the UK opening of Mexican drama Alice In Marialand.

BFI London Film Festival, Oct 7 to 18
The full programme for the BFI London Film Festival had not been revealed at the time of writing, but it's likely to be a little more mainstream than Raindance – but still far from commercial multiplex fodder. Now in its 59th year, the 2015 festival will host the UK premiere of Todd Haynes' new movie Carol – starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara. As Britain's largest film event, it usually screens around 300 movies and is centred on the BFI Southbank – formerly known as the National Film Theatre.

Love Arts Leeds – Oct 7 to 21
With a focus on the power of the arts in exploring mental health issues, Love Arts Leeds offers an interesting alternative slant on the arts festival. There will be plays, poetry performance, film screenings and a knitting workshop – all with some kind of slant on mental illness, wellbeing or therapy through creativity. An arts trail has also been devised, linking venues with affiliated exhibitions throughout the West Yorkshire city.

Get Creative Family Arts Festival, various locations – Oct 9 to Nov 1
Billed as the UK's biggest cultural festival, the Get Creative Family Arts Festival has – as you might have guessed from the title – a focus on events which are suitable for all ages. Partnered with the BBC's Get Creative initiative, there's also a drive to get people participating in the arts through workshops and events all over the country. A website lists all the affiliated events – and can be searched by text or via a map to find out what's local to you.

Canterbury Festival – Oct 17 to 31
One of the biggest arts festivals in the South East, Kent's Canterbury Festival combines music, theatre, cabaret, comedy, talks and even science to offer something for even the most-demanding culture vulture. Highlights this year include comics Rich Hall and Jeremy Hardy, An Evening Of Tango, the Escher String Quartet, Georgie Fame and pop group Texas.

Scottish International Storytelling Festival, Edinburgh – Oct 23 to Nov 1
Edinburgh is famous for its festivals, and one of the lesser-known gatherings in the Scottish capital is focused on this uniquely human activity. Folk stories, fairy tales and more modern forms of spinning a yarn will be combined from all over the world in the event – with this year's event being subtitled "Stories Without Borders". As you'd expect, spoken word events dominate and are either held at the Scottish Storytelling Centre or at a selection of carefully chosen venues such as the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, the National Library or Edinburgh Zoo.

Are you planning to go to an arts festival this autumn? Leave a comment below...
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