The District of Ryedale covers over 600 square miles of the North and East Ridings of Yorkshire, encompassing parts of the North York Moors, the Hambleton Hills and the Vales of Pickering and York. Ryedale’s historic sites include the ruined abbey of Rievaulx, to which monks came from France to settle in the 12th century, welcomed by Sir Walter l’Espec from the now also ruined Helmsley Castle. The wild and beautiful moors are within the National Park, and their dales shelter villages with pubs that welcome walkers.
The four principal market towns of Ryedale – Malton, Pickering, Helmsley and Kirkbymoorside – are busy centres with hotels that provide hospitality for Festival visitors, and shops selling locally grown and farmed food as well as tourist goods. This structure of market towns, villages and farms, dales, rivers and moorland, gives Ryedale a rural character that commands great local loyalty, and wins affection from visitors who come to appreciate its beauty and to enjoy the artistic fruits which the Festival helps to provide.