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National Festival

The National Festival is a coming together of musicians, bands and ensembles from across the regions to perform on world-class stages including Symphony Hall, Town Hall, and the CBSO Centre. It is a key date in the Music for Youth calendar, hosted by the city of Birmingham in July.

Over 12,000 young musicians aged 4-21 from across the UK take part, featuring all styles, instruments and genres of music. Audience members are encouraged to watch performances throughout the day.

The National Festival shines a spotlight on the creativity and talents of young musicians and creates an atmosphere where ‘everyone’s a headliner.’ The festival supports the next generation of talented young musicians and gives them unforgettable performance opportunities on world-class stages.

Group Performances

During the festival, there are three sessions (morning, afternoon, and early evening) in each venue, where groups perform in front of each other and an audience, and professional Music Mentors provide feedback to each performance group. Our Music Mentors are the ‘eyes and ears’ of Music for Youth, feeding back on performance standards at every level, making recommendations for progression opportunities within our calendar, giving expert advice, and contributing to the development of specific programmes and resources. In 2023, we were pleased to offer Mentors at every venue, including the Fringe stages, with progression routes through the MFY season equal to those performing on a ‘main stage’. This reflects our commitment to total inclusivity, opening up participation opportunities to those who wouldn’t normally be involved in our programme.

As well as performance sessions, there are many other ways to get involved including workshops, masterclasses and interactive, educational concerts and the whole festival is open to the public.

Primary Live

Primary Live is an hour-long interactive concert aimed at primary school children in KS1 and KS2, with a variety of performances by young people, for young people. The concert is led by a professional animatuer and presenter and resources are provided to schools in advance to support their experience in the classroom. As with all Music for Youth events, the concert is free to attend.


Join us at one of our free world-class workshops – these are inspiring, practical sessions to build skills in an interactive environment, led by music industry experts. Anyone under the age of 21 can sign-up for free, whether you are a Music for Youth group or hub, or a member of the public. The workshops take place alongside the performance programme and are appropriate for a wide range of ages, abilities, and genres.

Past workshop leaders have included jazz pianist, performer and composer, Pete Latanka, The Royal Welsh College of Music and National Youth Choir. 

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