Born in Lowestoft in 1913, Benjamin Britten was closely associated with Suffolk for most of his life. The main break was during World War II when, as a conscientious objector, Britten exiled himself to the USA. Ironically enough, it was here that Britten first read the work of the nineteenth-century Suffolk poet, George Crabbe, whose The Borough, a grisly portrait of the life of the fishermen of Aldeburgh, was the basis of the libretto of Britten’s best-known opera, Peter Grimes, which was premiered in London in 1945 to great acclaim. In 1948, Britten launched the Aldeburgh Festival as a showpiece for his own works and those of his contemporaries. He lived in the village for the next ten years, during which time he completed much of his finest work as a conductor and pianist. For the rest of his life he composed many works specifically for the festival, including his masterpiece for children, Noye’s Fludde, and the last of his fifteen operas, Death in Venice.

By the mid-1960s, the festival had outgrown the parish churches in which it began, and moved into a collection of disused malthouses, five miles west of Aldeburgh on the River Alde, just south of the small village of Snape. The complex, the Snape Maltings were subsequently converted into one of the finest concert venues in the country and, in addition to the concert hall, there are now recording studios, galleries, a tearoom, and a pub, the Plough & Sail.

The Aldeburgh Festival takes place every June for two and a half weeks. Core performances are still held at the Maltings, but a string of other local venues are pressed into service as well. Throughout the rest of the year, the Maltings hosts a wide-ranging programme of musical and theatrical events, including the three-day Britten Festival in October. For more information, contact Aldeburgh Music, which operates two box offices, one at Snape Maltings, the other on Aldeburgh High Street in premises it shares with the tourist office. Tickets for the Aldeburgh Festival usually go on sale to the public towards the end of March, and sell out fast for the big-name recitals.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

England features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Podcast: the extraordinary life of Aboriginal storyteller Francis Firebrace

Podcast: the extraordinary life of Aboriginal storyteller Francis Firebrace

Cowboy, pirate, Aboriginal storyteller, artist, cultural educator, filmmaker, soft-porn photographer. Francis Firebrace, now 81, has certainly led an extraordin…

14 Nov 2017 • Greg Dickinson volume_up Podcast
Podcast: adventures with the Natural Navigator

Podcast: adventures with the Natural Navigator

In a world where we rely so heavily on GPS to get from A to B, it's easy to tune out from the natural navigational clues that surround us. In this episode of…

07 Nov 2017 • Greg Dickinson volume_up Podcast
The best pub walks in Britain

The best pub walks in Britain

From its dramatic coastline to its upland mountains, from its stirring moorland to its bucolic inland shires, Britain’s wildly diverse landscapes make for som…

29 Sep 2017 • Daniel Neilson insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Weekly newsletter

Sign up now for travel inspiration, discounts and competitions

Sign up now and get 20% off any ebook