The Sitar Music Society is proud to launch the first ever International Sitar Festival in the UK taking place in March 2019 at venues in London, Midlands and the North.

The sitar has become one of the icons representing Indian culture in the 20th century. Mainly a North Indian instrument, it was popularised in the West by Pandit Ravi Shankar and his student George Harrison in the 1950s. Bands like The Beatles, The Doors and The Rolling Stones used it in some their songs in the 1960s. Yet, how much do we really know about the instrument, its heritage and history, its glitterati? How it is made and maintained? Who are the great sitar makers? What are the various branches of its repertoire, and who are the modern day maestros?

The first ever festival of the sitar will begin to spread this knowledge and provide an engaging programme of performances and workshops for a wider audience. Surprisingly, we can find no past example in the world of such a festival dedicated to this iconic instrument. We aim to make a start in March 2019 and, with its success, hold it regularly every one or two years with a widening representation of artists, styles and repertoire.

The artistic and programming direction for the Festival is led by Ustad Dharambir Singh MBE who is its Creative Director. Dharambir Singh is one of the most prominent Sitar player and Indian Music educators based in England over the last 40 years. A disciple of the legendary Sitar maestro Ustad Vilayat Khan, Dharambir has truly imbibed the sound of the rich Imdad Khani and Vilayat Khani Gharana (style). This festival is launched in remembrance of Vilayat Khan.

This year’s Festival will showcase the work of Shakir Khan, a rising star of the new generation the son of Ustad Shahid Parvez and great-nephew of Vilayat Khan. It will also feature a number of UK-based Sitarists and Tabla accompanists.

The Festival will take place from 1st to 31st March 2019 across five cities in England. It includes concerts, baithaks (chamber concerts in a more intimate setting), workshops and master classes.

The Programme will be published shortly on our website. Subscribe to our Newsletter ( or like us on Facebook ( to receive further details.

We are grateful to our principal partners who have already committed their support in various ways – Attenborough Arts University of Leicester, The Bhavan London, Gem Arts Newcastle, the London Sitar Academy, the Nishkam Centre Birmingham, and South Asian Arts UK Leeds.