8 reasons to visit the unmissable Three Choirs Festival in Gloucester

Three Choirs Festival is back in Gloucester this summer 2023 and SoGlos rounds up just some of the reasons to make sure you pay a visit to the oldest music festival in the world while it's in town.

By Chloe Gorman  |  Published
Classical music fans won't want to miss Three Choirs Festival in Gloucester this July 2023, with SoGlos rounding up eight top reasons to visit. Image © Michael Whitefoot Photography.

From watching prestigious orchestras perform in some of the county's most spectacular venues, to enjoying free performances from local groups on the Festival Village bandstand, Three Choirs Festival has something for everyone when it returns to Gloucester this July 2023.

SoGlos rounds up just some of the reasons to attend this year's festival, which promises to be one of the most unmissable events of the summer for classical music fans.

Be a part of the world's longest-running music festival

It's thought that Three Choirs Festival was first established in 1715, making it the longest-running music festival in the world. In the 308 years it's been running, the event has featured premieres from classical greats including Edward Elgar, Camille Saint-Saëns, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and Ralph Vaughan Williams, many of which were conducted by the composers themselves, with the festival continuing its tradition of showcasing new music from the most exciting contemporary composers to this day. 

With plenty of opportunities to get involved, like the Three Choirs Festival Voices choir, inclusivity is key, with everyone welcome from classical music enthusiasts to first-timers — and even members of the Royal Family! 

Experience large-scale classical concerts in spectacular settings

Image © Michael Whitefoot Photography.

Gloucester Cathedral plays host to many of this year's concerts, with the breath taking building providing an incredible setting to hear live music from the likes of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and the Philharmonia Orchestra, accompanied by the very best singers from Gloucester, Hereford and Worcester and an impressive line-up of talented soloists and musicians. 

As well as the beautiful architecture, Gloucester Cathedral also boasts amazing acoustics that are ideal for classical and choral concerts, promising audiences a truly unforgettable experience. 

Celebrate the life of one of Gloucestershire's most famous composers

This year's festival marks the culmination of RVW150 — a year-long celebration of the life of Gloucestershire composer, Ralph Vaughan Williams.

Music lovers can enjoy hearing some of his most famous works, including 'The Pilgrim's Progress'; 'Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis', which was written for the festival in 1910; and 'The Lark Ascending', along with a brand-new premiere inspired by the piece. 

Take the kids to a family-friendly classical concert

Image © Ben Whatley.

Three Choirs Festival provides the perfect opportunity to introduce little ones to classical music, with a series of family-friendly concerts and workshops taking place throughout the week-long event.

From unique sessions which blend art and storytelling with classical music, to opportunities to get hands-on with instruments, there's plenty to choose from, with tickets starting from as little as £5 and under fives able to come along for free. There's also the opportunity to catch open rehearsals at Gloucester Cathedral during the day for free — plus there's a family musical quiz to try, too. 

Get exclusive ticket offers with Three Choirs Festival's new Youth Membership

Classical music fans aged 10 to 25 can get exclusive ticket offers for this year's event with the new Three Choirs Festival Youth Membership — and it's free to sign up. 

Around a month before the event takes place, Youth Members can access a limited number of tickets for a variety of concerts across the daytime and evening programme for just £5. There are also many events where under 25's can attend for free, making the festival as accessible as possible for young music lovers. 

To find out more about Three Choirs Festival Youth Membership, visit 3choirs.org/youth-membership.

Try out an atmospheric late-night concert

Image © Lottie Davies.

Designed to help you unwind at the end of the day, this year's line-up features a series of late-night concerts at atmospheric venues across the city. 

From traditional chamber music from the Saint Cecilia Singers; A Feast of Slavic Music from Muzika Lyra; Gaelic songs blended with modern harp and electronics from Ruth Wall; to comical capers with a one-man show inspired by Bottom from Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream accompanied by live music, pair with dinner and drinks for a unique date night. 

Hear brand-new music from leading local composers

Three Choirs Festival is passionate about showcasing the work of contemporary classical composers, with this year's line-up featuring new music by exciting composers from the county and beyond. 

The BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Three Choirs Festival Chorus and popular baritone, Roderick Williams, perform 'The Faerie Bride' by Gavin Higgins from the Forest of Dean on Sunday 23 July 2023; the premiere of Gloucestershire composer Liz Lane's 'What The Lark Saw' takes place on Wednesday 26 July 2023; while Hereford-based composer, Eleanor Alberga, premieres new work commissioned for this year's festival, too. 

Enjoy free entertainment at the lively Festival Village

Image © Ben Whatley.

The vibrant Festival Village is at the heart of Three Choirs Festival and provides plenty of free entertainment throughout the week.

Local bands and groups can perform on the bandstand; there's an exhibition from the Guilds of Craftsmen from Gloucester, Hereford and Worcester to browse; and there's a bar and street food traders serving up drinks and tasty food all week long, with a welcoming atmosphere whether you're heading to a concert or not. 

For more information, including how to book tickets, see Three Choirs Festival.

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