About the Manx Music Festival

The Manx Competitive Music, Speech and Dance Festival or The Manx Music Festival, as it is more commonly known, or The Guild as it is known locally, had its origins in The Isle of Man Fine Art and Industrial Guild. It was during the fifth Annual Exhibition of this organisation, held in December 1892, that choir competitions were held for the first time. These were organised by Miss M L Wood, who became known as “the Mother of Manx Music”, and took place over just one day. Competition was accepted as the motivation for improvement in many spheres. From this humble beginning the “Music Guild” developed:

  • 1894The first vocal solo classes were included
  • 1895The senior music classes moved to the spring to allow greater time for preparation after the end of the tourist season
  • 1897The Music Guild expanded to two days and was soon to include elocution classes
  • 1902The new Palace Ballroom opened with a capacity of 4,000 for the Music Guild concerts
  • 1905The British and International Federation of Festivals was founded (under a different name)
  • 1923 The first Cleveland Medal was awarded to Mr Allan Quirk
  • 1929 Dance classes were included for the first time
  • 1933The first competition for one-act plays was held in the Palace Coliseum
  • 1947 The Villa Marina took over from the Palace Ballroom for the main events
  • 1949 27 one-act plays were presented
  • 1950 3,000 individuals participated in the Festival in choral, musical, drama and dance classes
  • 1958 Light Opera class introduced
  • 1962 Kathleen Cooil was the first ever contralto to win the Cleveland test
  • 1970 Folk-singing with guitar introduced
  • 1965 The first broadcasts from the Guild went out on Manx Radio
  • 1970 Guild Week extended to occupy seven days
  • 1986 Workshops run by the adjudicators began
  • 1988 A small group class called Music for Fun was introduced
  • 1991 Victorian and Edwardian ballads class introduced
  • 2015 Music Hall class introduced to win the McDowell Trophy
  • 2015 The Festival attracts its first commercial sponsor - Dandara
  • 2016 Ballet, Modern and Character Dance are reintroduced along with a Battle of the Bands. The Festival's Finest last night concert was also introduced.
  • 2017 The Festival celebrated its 125th Anniversary with an exhibition, a gift of commemorative stamps for the winners and a certificate for every participant. 

The Festival is run under the guidance of the British and International Federation of Festivals

If you would like to volunteer at the Manx Music Festival please contact the Festival Secretary on manxguild@gmail.com or 01624 672150

Our next Annual General Meeting will take place on 23rd November 2018 and our Review of the 2018 Festival will take place on 22nd June 2018. All welcome. Call the Secretary for further details. 

Countdown to Festival

Days Hours Minutes Seconds
26th April - 4th May 2019

Congratulations to the winners of trophies for 2018. Please ensure that you return your trophy clean, engraved and in good condition to Peter Norris Music, Bucks Road, Douglas by Saturday, 30th March 2019. Thank you.


Affiliated to the British and International Federation of Festivals for Music, Dance and Speech