Youth Festival 2021 Cancelled Due to Lack of Volunteers & Coronavirus

HYF Trustees have today sadly announced that the Henley Youth Festival is cancelled next year due to coronavirus and a lack of volunteers to take on new roles.

The health and safety of Henley’s children, the HYF volunteers and the local community must come first according festival trustees. Organisers say running the Henley Youth Festival presents too many challenges and would place additional pressure on school leaders.

This year the festival timetabled 3,200 workshop places over two weeks for 16 primary schools in the Henley area. Most workshops are delivered in school by visiting professionals such as the Young Shakespeare Company, Explorer Dome or Create n’ Make.

Performance events and competitions are also off as HYF’s shows mix year groups and their families in small busy venues.

Few will be surprised by the festival’s decision to cancel the festival. Kate Swinburne-Johnson, HYF Trustee and former Co-Chair of the festival explains, “The health of the children was at the heart of our decision not go ahead, and as trustees we have a duty of care to all those involved in running our events.”

“It is disappointing for Henley’s children who have missed out on so much so far this year, but we couldn’t put off the decision as the festival takes six months to arrange. We start booking workshop providers, venues and contacting schools in September for the following March.”

“It would be even more disheartening if the festival could not return in 2022 due to a scarcity of volunteers – without new volunteers this is real risk.”

“We had hoped new people would come forward at the end of this year’s festival, but interest tailed-off as we went into lockdown. It’s now vital for the festival’s future to renew our appeal.”

Appeal for Volunteers

Henley Youth Festival urgently needs new support if it is to flourish and organisers strongly encourage any capable people interested in getting involved to email

Key roles are open on the festival’s committee including a new Chair or Co-chairs as well as other opportunities for people to share their expertise and energy.

The festival urges you to get in touch if you can help make this unique and inspiring youth festival happen for young people aged 4-18 living or at school in the Henley area.

The Henley Youth Festival’s future genuinely depends on people coming forward to help.

HYF 2020

Children of all ages had a whale of a time at this years ocean themed 14-day Henley Youth Festival.

More than 170 young performers from school years 1-13 took part in HYF’s shows, many interpreting the 2020 OCEANS theme through lyrics or movement.

HYF timetabled 2,500 school workshops places putting on over 100 hours of drama, science, dance and sport activity, plus 700 ‘resident artist’ workshop places and 50 hours of educational art in schools for all 16 primary schools in the Henley area.

The festival introduced a new cartoon competition in partnership with the Herald and it was a record year for the HYF RUN with 250 entrants.

For more information, visit Henley Youth Festival on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter or

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