1965 - The biennial Richmondshire Festival was founded in 1965 by Dr A. J. Bull, the retired music organiser for the North Riding of Yorkshire. A week of music and drama in and around Richmond, it was initially scheduled for September in order to attract motorists on their way south from the Edinburgh Festival.

1967 - Richmondshire Festival programme lists Arthur Bull as the ‘Hon. Organiser’, and the Marquess of Zetland as Patron. There are no known records for the next decade, but we know that by 1969 the Festival moved to a May date, and by 1978 Dr Bull had started to look for a successor.

1972 - The first event under the Swaledale Festival banner appears to have been on Monday 4 September when the Delme Quartet performed. A photo of the group in the Darlington and Stockton Times of 2 September 1972 is captioned: ‘The quartet...recently settled in Muker...rehearsing for their performance in the Swaledale Festival’.

1973 - The following year the D&S ran this article: ‘Swaledale becomes a centre for chamber music this week. Six string quartets will be busy in Thwaite, playing in cottages, homes and school halls during this week's second Swaledale Festival and summer school’.

1979 - The violinist Trevor Woolston moved to Swaledale. In 1981 Woolston ran ten events, mostly in St Andrew's Church, Grinton, ‘as part of the Richmondshire Festival’. This included concerts by the Lindsay String Quartet and the Yorkshire Baroque Soloists, who would become regular visitors.  There is no primary evidence that the concerts of 1980 and 1981 took place under the Swaledale Festival banner. However, there being no Richmondshire Festival in 1982, as Trevor Woolston wrote, ‘a Swaledale Festival was arranged’. It now seems that over the span of three years Woolston merged his own programming into the already established Swaledale Festival.

1983 - The Richmondshire and Swaledale Festivals ran in partnership over three full weeks.

1984 - Drama and crafts were added to the Swaledale Festival.

1985 - The two Festivals again ran in parallel.

1986 - 'Swaledale Festival Friends' organisation was formed.

1987 - The Richmondshire Festival folded and the Swaledale Festival expanded down-dale into Richmond.

1988 - Swaledale Festival expanded its geographical coverage again with concerts in Wensleydale.

1989 - The Festival was active from Keld in Upper Swaledale to Bedale in Lower Wensleydale, and Trevor Woolston joked about changing the Festival's name to ‘The Festival of the Upper Dales, Richmondshire and the Teesside Hinterland’

1991 - Part-time staff and volunteers had been recruited to look after administration and publicity, and the Woolstons were preparing to retire.

1993 - Elizabeth Carter was appointed Artistic Director, a post she would hold until 2000. Trevor Woolston stepped down.  Also in 1993, the Festival became a registered charity with a formalised constitution and a Board.

2001 - Philip Parr was appointed Director of the Festival and he remained in the post until 2006.  Justin Doyle was Artistic Director for the 2007 Festival.

2007 - The baton was passed to the present Artistic Director, Malcolm Creese. Malcolm has brought a number of innovations to the Festival, including the Young Artists Platform, the Reeth Lecture and the Stationary Walk. Whilst focusing on high quality, he has broadened the programme to include astronomy, archaeology, puppetry, dance, poetry and even a trip on an iconic steam train. During Malcolm's tenure, ticket sales at the Festival have grown by four times and the Festival has received several local, national and international awards.