Westcountry Folk Festivals 2015

There have been so many changes to the programme, both additions and cancellations, that I’ve decided to delete my original post and re-post the whole thing. As with the original, I’ve restricted the list to festivals south of Bristol.

January
2nd-4th : English Folk Weekend – Halsway Manor, Crowcombe, Somerset www.halswaymanor.org.uk
17th Bradford Roots Festival – Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire

February
27th : Inter-Varsity Folk Dance Festival – Exeter University, Exeter

March
5th : Swanage Blues Festival – Swanage, Dorset (it’s not folk, but it’s fun)
14th : Lyme Folk Revisited – Lyme Regis, Dorset – www.lymefolk.com

April
17th : Crediton Folk Weekend – THIS HAS BEEN CANCELLED

May
22nd -26th : Scilly Folk Festival – www.scillyfolkfestival.weebly.com
22nd – 25th : Bude and Stratton Folk Festival, Cornwall www.budefolkfest.com
23rd – 24th : Don’t Wake the Fish – The Gurnard’s Head, Zennor, Cornwall
29th – 31st : Wessex Folk Festival – Weymouth http://www.wessexfolkfestival.com/
Note: Dulverton Folk Festival has been cancelled.

June
12th – 14th : Bradninch Folk Festival. Devon. – http://www.bradninchmusicfestival.co.uk/events/page/3/
12th-14th : Falmouth International Sea Shanty Festival, Cornwall http://www.falmouthseashanty.co.uk/
12th – 14th : Wimborne Minster Folk Festival – http://www.wimbornefolk.co.uk/
13th : Behind The Castle – Sherborne, Dorset http://www.behindthecastle.co.uk/  CANCELLED due to disappointing ticket sales.
14th: Seaweed Festival, Clovelly, Devon. Here’s a new one: a festival to celebrate the health-giving properties of seaweed – with folk music throughout the day.
19th – 21st : Teignmouth Folk Festival. The usual main venue, the Carlton Theatre, is being re-developed and the United Reformed Church is being used instead. I imagine this has much lower capacity – so get your tickets early! http://www.teignmouthfolk.co.uk/
26th – 28th : West Somerset Folk Festival – Carhampton, Somerset http://www.westsomersetfolkfestival.co.uk/
27th – 28th : Folk on the Quay – Poole http://www.folkonthequay.co.uk/

July
3rd – 12th : Frome Festival http://www.fromefestival.co.uk/
4th South Brent Folk Day, Devon. http://southbrentfolk.org.uk/
10th – 12th : Priddy Folk Festival – http://www.priddyfolk.org/
10th – 12th : Tiverton Balloon and Music Festival. https://www.tivertonballoonfestival.co.uk/
22nd – 26th : Hatherleigh Festival – folk, pop & rock – http://www.hatherleighfestival.co.uk/
24th – 26th : Village Pump Folk Festival, Westbury, Wiltshire http://www.villagepumpfolkfestival.co.uk/
24th – 26th : Devon DubFest – music and VWs! Bicton College http://www.devondubfest.co.uk/
31st – 7th Aug : Sidmouth Folk Week, Devon http://www.sidmouthfolkweek.co.uk/

August
7th – 9th : Dartmoor Folk Festival http://www.dartmoorfolkfestival.org.uk/
8th – 16th : Bath Folk Festival. http://bathfolkfestival.org/
21st-23rd : ‘Beautiful Days’ Escot Park, Devon http://www.beautifuldays.org/
21st-23rd : Lyme Folk Festival, Lyme Regis, Dorset. http://www.lymefolk.com/#!festival/cjg9
27th-30th : Purbeck Valley Folk Festival. Swanage, Dorset http://www.purbeckvalleyfolkfestival.co.uk/
28th-31st : Cornwall Folk Festival, Wadebridge. http://www.cornwallfolkfestival.com/

September
3rd-6th : Burnham-on-Sea FolkFest. Somerset http://www.folkfest.co.uk/
4th-6th : The Wareham Wail – the 27th festival of traditional singing. Verwood, Dorset http://www.wail.org.uk/
11th-13th : Swanage Folk Festival, Dorset. http://www.swanagefolkfestival.com/
12th -26th : St Ives Folk Festival, Cornwall. A two-week celebration of music and the arts. http://www.stivesseptemberfestival.co.uk/
18th – 20th : The Priston Festival, near Bath. http://www.priston.org.uk/festival/18th – 21st Henry’s Little Big Gig, Kynance Cove, Cornwall. http://littlebiggig.co.uk/

October
14th – 18th : Lowender Peran. Festival of Celtic music. Newquay (not Perranporth!), Cornwall. http://www.lowenderperan.co.uk/?page=home
24th : North Dorset Folk Festival, Marnhull, Dorset. http://www.northdorsetfolkfestival.co.uk/
23rd-25th : Baring-Gould Folk Weekend, Okehampton, Devon.

Sidmouth: Hamboning with Five Finger Frank.

Sidmouth is a lovely town with many attractive Regency buildings, beautiful open spaces and a charming town centre full of independent shops. Down the eastern side of town the River Sid runs to the sea through a long ribbon of mature woodland called The Byes. Along the sea front is a traditional prom. It’s a rather refined, sedate little town.

Each year in the first week of August everything changes when Sidmouth Folk Week hits town. Those narrow streets and open spaces are suddenly thronged with tens of thousands of people, many of them with one or more instruments strapped to them; of the others a large number sport painted faces and wear the bizarre costumes of Morris dancing sides from all over the country.

2014 was the 60th Sidmouth Folk Week. When it started back in 1955 it was a Morris dancing festival organised by the English Folk Dance and Song Society that held an annual festival in Stratford-upon-Avon and wanted a second in the Southwest. In the early years the event was held in Connaught Gardens on the western edge of town and most of the residents were probably unaware that it was taking place. Now the whole town throbs with music. Even the residents of Sidmouth Parish Churchyard are probably aware that something is going on. Continue reading

Westcountry Folk Festivals 2014

I’m looking forward to getting to a lot of these. July looks a bit thin. I’m sure I’ve missed something. Tell me if you know of a Westcountry festival that I’ve left out.

February

14th Cheltenham Folk Festival (OK – I know that for those of us living in Devon and Cornwall describing Cheltenham as ‘Westcountry’ is pushing it)

April

17th – 20th  Scilly Folk Festival

May

9th – 10th Crediton Folk Weekend

23rd – 26th Bude Folk Fest

23rd – 26th Cheltenham Folk Festival (you see, they do more than one so they deserve a mention)

23rd – 26th Dulverton Folk Festival

30th May – 1st June Wessex Folk Festival (Weymouth)

June

13th – 15th Falmouth Sea Shanty Festival

13th – 15th Wimborne Minster Folk Festival (a new name for this longstanding festival)

14th Behind the Castle (Sherborne – a new one-dayer on three stages in the castle grounds)

20th – 22nd Teignmouth Folk Festival

20th – 22nd Ukelele Festival of Great Britain (In Cheltenham – they’re at it again!)

27th Tivvy Fest (Tiverton – 31 days of folkie events!!!)

27th – 29th  West Somerset Folk Festival (Carhampton)

July

4th – 13th Frome Festival 10 days of events, some folky

11th – 13th South Brent Folk Festival

August

1st – 8th Sidmouth Folk Week

8th – 10th Dartmoor Folk Festival (South Zeal)

9th – 17th Bath Folk Festival (Nine days of concerts and workshops)

22nd – 25th Cornwall Folk Festival (Wadebridge)

29th – 31st Lyme Folk Weekend (Lyme Regis)

September

13th Fishstock (Brixham’s seafood and music festival. Two stages, one for folkies.)

October

24th – 26th Baring-Gould Folk Weekend (Okehampton)

25th North Dorset Folk Festival (Marnhull)

Sidmouth Folk Week August 2nd – 9th 2013

Photo of The Byes

The Byes

Sidmouth gave us another wonderful eight days. I think it’s a combination of factors that come together to make this a uniquely delightful festival.

The town itself has a great deal to do with it. Whether it’s festival time or not, it’s well worth a visit. The town nestles in a valley between two towering headlands on the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site. Fine Regency buildings line the prom; there’s a lovely two-mile long parkland called The Byes through which the River Sid runs on its way to the sea; there are attractive parks and a town centre filled with independent shops.

During Folk Week the whole town is given over to music and visitors are attracted from all over the world. There are venues everywhere: in the marquees that appear in the open spaces, in the theatre, the church halls, the hotels, the school, the sailing club, the Arts Centre and the pubs. Pub car parks accommodate ceilidhs.

photo of folk dancing

Mollies

This year the programme listed 870 organised events. The basic format is workshops in the morning and performances from lunchtime until 1.00 a.m.

The workshops covered singing, playing instruments, dance and story-telling.

The quality of the organised concerts is remarkable. For me the highlights of this year’s ‘big’ concerts were the emotional appearance of Nic Jones, the hugely enjoyable Show of Hands, Maddy Prior and the refreshingly different Spooky Men’s Chorale.

Photo of a large group singing on the beach led by the Spooky Men's Chorale.

An impromptu sing-song led by The Spooky Men’s Chorale.

If you haven’t seen the SMC in action, and you get the chance to go during their current UK tour, I highly recommend that you grab the opportunity.

Bankers should avoid Show of Hands concerts. With over 1000 people bawling out the words to ‘Arrogance, Ignorance and Greed’ lynch-mob frenzy gets close.

There were lots of gems scattered between the ‘big’ events, (I managed to catch Jim Causley three times), but one of the joys of such a huge, varied programme was strolling into a gig by someone I didn’t know and being blown away. The Stream of Sound youth choir put on just such a performance.

Simply wandering between events on the organised programme is a delight. Inside (and outside) the pubs, in the parks, along the prom and on the beach musicians get together to compare instruments, chat about their experiences and jam. I went into The Bedford to find an organised gig in their function room and each of their three bars occupied by groups of musicians chatting and jamming – fiddles in one, banjos in another and melodeons in the third.

Photo of folk dancers leaping into the air.

The music will get you jumping!

2014 sees the 60th anniversary of Sidmouth Folk Week and the organisers are promising ‘something really special’. It starts on Friday 1st August. We’ve already booked our accommodation. Come and join in the fun!