About the contest

The Holme Valley Brass Band Contest

The Pennine Hills around Holmfirth have a reputation for being the home of many artistic endeavors. The creators of the best-known seaside postcards – Bamforth – started their business in these hills, Roy Castle, OBE, the dancer, singer, comedian, actor, television presenter and musician hailed from these parts and the world’s longest-running TV comedy show “The Last of the Summer Wine” was filmed here.

The Holme Valley has been home to many Bands including Hinchcliffe Mill, Holme Silver, Hepworth, Hade Edge, Honley, Holmfirth (where there were as many as six bands) and Wooldale.

In his book, Brass Bands in the Holme Valley (2015), Jeffrey Turner JP, AVCM (Hons) says that bands were an outcome of the industrial revolution, forming around mills and factories and that working men, who lived and worked in very poor conditions, would get together after work and make music. He goes on to make the point that some employers would support the bands, subscribing to instruments and music, as a way of keeping their workforces occupied and away from thoughts of rebellion against grim conditions.

With many bands in existence, rivalry was keen. As a result, contests became very popular in both Yorkshire and Lancashire. These provided access to money to fund activities, as well as high quality family entertainment.

Started in 1921, The Holme Valley Brass Band Contest is part of this tradition of banding rivalry. The Holme Valley Contest Committee are passionate in their determination to ensure this tradition continues to flourish well beyond its centenary and look forward to welcoming Brass Bands, supporters and members of the public to each and every contest.

What is a Brass Band competition?

Rivalry between Brass Bands goes back to the days when there were many bands scattered throughout the hamlets, villages and towns of Yorkshire and Lancashire. Contests provide incentive to a Brass Band, giving a reason for test pieces and marches to be learned, practiced and polished ready for a contest on a certain date. Brass Bands have a history of competition going back to at least 1845 and possibly before this date. What is known, is that all contests were held outside and in the case of the Holme Valley Contest, this was held in Victoria Park until 1964, when it was staged for the first time in Holmfirth Civic Hall.

You can find more details about British Brass Bands on Wikipedia.

Entry to the Contest

For those wishing to relax on a Sunday and listen to some very fine live music, entry to the Contest on is £5 with an opportunity to buy raffle tickets for prizes to be drawn on the day.  Refreshments, including tea, coffee, cakes and sandwiches, will be served upstairs in the Lesser Hall, most of the day. For those wanting a stronger brew, The Post Card Inn, opposite, who sponsor the Contest programme – thank you – can provide, accompanied by a tasty menu.

For those with an eye to participating, Bands are welcome from any region.  Please see the Main Contest page for your entry form and Contest Rules.


Why participate? For recognition and, possibly, inspiration as well as the chance to hold one or more of the many prize cups and shields form the hallmark of the Holme Valley Brass Band Contest.  Please see Contest Prizes for more details.