In three decades, Arts Alive has grown from a low-key local event to one of the largest annual community arts festivals in the South East.
Mole Valley District Council launched the festival in 1988, originally calling it Festival of Arts. The aim was to encourage all ages to participate in local arts, and there were around sixty events. The majority were talks, presentations and live music.
In 1997 the festival was renamed Arts Alive. It ran for two weeks, and attracted 35 groups and artists. Over the years it grew in popularity, and was extended to six weeks. In 2017, there were a record 17,650 festivalgoers, and 221 events, including poetry recitals, concerts, dance and drama performances, art exhibitions, music workshops and much more. The festival now takes place over three months, and includes launch parties in Leatherhead and Dorking town centres, and a finale show at Dorking Halls.