Folk festivals are one of the best way of sampling a range of traditional music related events. Most festivals run over a weekend. The festival season used to run mainly during the spring and summer months when there is usually one or more folk festival taking place somewhere in the UK and Ireland. Increasingly now there are Festivals throughout the autumn and winter.
Most will have a mixture of formal concerts, ceilidh dances, informal sessions and workshops. Advance booking of tickets is preferable but if this is not possible simply turn up in plenty of time. Most folk festivals are organised by local music enthusiasts and will usually make considerable efforts to make visitors welcome.
See The Living Tradition Festival Listing for dates Living Tradition Festival Listing or read about some of the festivals who support the Living Tradition using the links below.
Held at Uttoxeter Racecourse, this is billed as the "music lover's festival" and features a mixture of lots of different types of music, comedy and various workshops, with a Blues Bar, plenty for the kids and much more.
For more info see: their website
An annual celebration of traditional music and dance from around the world. Running for a week, entertainment includes free performances every day in the Market Place and more formal concerts and dances in the evenings. The festival has attracted acts from all over the world during its history, as well as being a showcase for Northumbrian culture.
For more details see: Alnwick International Music Festival
In June 1990, the first Arran Folk Festival was held and a new Scottish phenomenon was born. In the preceding year, an erstwhile group of enthusiasts had organised themselves; rallying support and commitment from locals, musicians, public bodies and businesses to make the dream happen - and it did!
At that time, the Folk Festival was a very bold statement about Arran and our community - it linked us in a vibrant way to the raw essence of traditional music, which thrives not only in Scotland but in all the Celtic nations and beyond. It brought together the finest and most renowned musicians from the international scene; from stalwarts of the 60s revival to young passionate players, who continue to enchant and inspire their audiences.
The Festival was an instant success and it grew. Carefully placed in the first week of June, it was designed to attract visitors to the island at a time when the weather is often at its best but the place is not busy - local businesses saw a great benefit from this and many reported the Folk Festival to yield their best takings of any week in the year. It was big, it was ambitious - a full seven days of concerts, workshops and spontaneously flourishing sessions, which lent a warmth and a great welcome to everybody who came. For those who were involved in those early days, there was a huge sense of excitement and achievement. Arran was suddenly host to some of the greatest traditional musicians alive and the best thing was that they all wanted to come here and play! The Island's accessibility, the hospitality, efficiency of the committee and quality of audience were a great formula which culminated in several years of the main weekend concerts being held in big marquees, with an electric atmosphere.
Like all living entities, the festival had a cycle - the ambition of the initial committee and its incredible popularity started to cause difficulties - each year became harder to live up to. Fire regulations reduced capacity in the marquee, which made it too costly and from this point, however well supported, the festival seemed to wind down; the main concerts moved back into village halls and the committee's natural enthusiasm began to wane.
The unfortunate fact for the Arran Folk Festival and its committee of volunteers was that commercial reality was beginning to dawn. Operating costs were increasing; bands were becoming more professional and commanding higher fees. At the same time, audiences were becoming more demanding - there was a growing expectation of credit card payment and online booking which was at that time out-with the scope of a voluntary organisation. There was also a withdrawal of public body support. The week became a weekend in an attempt to become sustainable but in June 2003, Arran saw its 14th and (apparently) final Folk Festival concert in a capacity filled Brodick Hall.
The committee elected to mothball the festival on the grounds that it was about to lose its final cash reserves and it placed the PA system and bank account in trust until such time as a worthy successor was found. At this time the Folk Club was born with the aim of keeping things “ticking over” and it has successfully promoted acoustic sessions throughout the year although it has no ambition to resurrect a festival.
After several years of contemplation, two individuals who have been very closely involved with the festival at different times, have decided to create a new Arran Folk Festival and to do it in a way which is sustainable in the increasingly commercial world in which we find ourselves. Terry Stevens is known to most islanders and a great many perennial visitors, for his ceilidh work with the "Boguillie Band" and a variety of folk lineups which can be found playing in all corners of the island at all times of year. In a former life, Terry was a director of a marketing company and brings a clear business approach to music - he was also a long-standing Arran Folk Festival committee member. Donal Boyle has been at the forefront of traditional music on Arran for nearly 20 years, having started his musical apprenticeship in the Kiscadale Hotel at the tender age of 14. He has played with Arran Folk Festival founder members, Iain & Maggie Frame in the “Angels' Share” and Glasgow Bluegrass band the "Moonshiners" before joining Terry and his various bands. Donal was also a long-standing committee member and latter day chairman of the festival.
The idea is to run the Arran Folk Festival as a business and to relaunch it with a very high, international profile. Celtic Connections has provided a tremendous model, which demonstrates that it is possible to run a successful, fully commercial enterprise without losing the essence of the tradition with its informality, spontaneity and great sense of humour. The Festival will also establish a trust fund to assist the many community groups, which are involved in music and the performing arts generally.
Website: Arran Folk Festival
With concerts featuring some of the best names in Irish music, sessions and a festival club, this weekend in Co Cork is well worth a visit.
Website: Ballincollig Winter Music Festival
The annual Ballyshannon Folk and Traditional Music Festival is held on the August Bank Holiday Weekend in Co Donegal, and the sound of trad & folk music will echo from the streets, pubs and theatres there once again. They always boast a top class line-up, as well as plenty of pub sessions and street entertainment.
Website: Ballyshannon Folk Festival
From humble beginnings in 1992 this unique festival has grown a little in size and a lot in stature and is now a key fixture on Irish and international music calendars. The festival boasts intimate concerts which will be held in unique venues across Baltimore, from garden amphitheatres to ancient castles to cosy marquees, and all in one of the most stunning festival settings on the planet.
For more info see: their website
The Festival started in 2000 as a one day event but has grown into a full weekend attracting major artists and folk enthusiasts from all over the country. It has now merged with the Banbury Hobby Horse Festival.
For more info see: Banbury Folk Festival website
This event, held at the Banbury Cricket Club, is a fundraiser for the main Banbury Folk Festival in October. The weekend’s entertainment starts at on Friday evening and runs until 5pm on Sunday. The weekend is in sing-around format dispersed with surprise guests and fun & games.
For more info see: website
Taking place in indoor venues in Okehampton, Devon, the festival is organised by the folk arts development charity Wren Music. A weekend of music and song is what you will get, with concerts, workshops, the festival feast, music sessions, singing sessions, a folk orchestra, festival choir, youth events, morris dancing and ceilidhs. Most venues are halls and churches around the town, with a few local pubs being used for sessions. All this and a conker championship too!!! The Festival is inspired by the folk song collecting of Sabine Baring-Gould (1834-1924) - one of the Victorian era's great social historical researchers, who undertook the first serious and sustained attempt to collect the traditional songs of the English peasantry and workers, predominantly in west Devon. The festival is accompanied by a week long Folk Song School, where there is an extensive range of classes from developing techniques such as pitching, ornamentation and harmonies, to developing repertoire and performance skills.
Website: Baring-Gould Folk Festival
The folk arts development charity Wren Music invites you to take a week out in beautiful rural west Devon working on your voice and song development at the Baring-Gould Folk Song School. Set in the village of Bridestowe, the Folk Song School gives you the chance to experience being part of a passionate singing community, and meet like-minded people from across the country.
You will have the opportunity to plan your own way through the week, balancing your own programme from the three main strands:
Developing Technique warming up; finding your own voice; breathing; pitching; phrasing; ornamentation; creating your own harmonies
Developing Repertoire searching the archive; collation of text and tunes; putting tunes to words (and vice versa); arranging; using harmony effectively; accompaniment
Developing Performance Skills identifying opportunities to sing away from the clubs; using modern PA systems; building confidence; overcoming nerves; relaxation; telling the story.
Tuition is in large and small groups, as well as one-to-one, and is complemented by discussions, informal evening talks and events in a variety of local venues - including pubs! There is an extensive library of resources and materials, including copies of the full Baring-Gould folk song archive.
The Baring-Gould folk song archive is one of the most significant collections of Westcountry vocal traditions from the Victorian era. Sabine Baring-Gould undertook the first serious attempt to collect the traditional songs of the English peasantry and workers, in West Devon. The full extent of his research work was only realised in 1992, when his personal manuscripts were discovered at Devon’s Killerton House. Alongside the 650 songs, further finds have made the collection even more comprehensive. Wren Music is now the guardian of this amazing archive.
Website: Baring-Gould Folk Song School
This is a new festival, and hosts concerts with a wide variety of guests, a summer school, workshops and sessions, all around the historic city of Bath.
For more information see their website at: Bath Folk Festival
For more info see: Bamfest website
Bedworth has been described as a "singers" festival, and that has been their aim over the years, and their criteria when compiling the guest list. Their guests tend not to be commercial headliners, but established names of the folk scene that form the backbone of the scene today.
Although over the years the Festival has grown into quite a large event it has still retained its unique “intimate” atmosphere: You can enjoy a whole week-end of music, song and dance for little more than the price of just a concert! - It’s a Festival to ”get involved in” - where the audience is (at least!) as important as the guests!
Website: Bedworth Folk Festival
The Bellingham All Acoustic Music Festival is held on the cricket pitch of the Riverdale Hall Country House Hotel in Bellingham Village, Northumberland. The music (mostly folk, jazz and blues) will be in a series of marquees, with camping available in the grounds (as well as many other accomodatin options in the town!). The main marquee will be ticketed, but there will also be a second marquee holding free events, and various other fringe events.
For more information see their website at: BaaFest
Beverley is an historic market town situated some 10 miles north of Hull and within easy reach of York and Leeds. The festival there is well established and comprises a mix of folk, acoustic and roots music. During the festival weekend many of the pubs host various sessions and the streets are alight with various performances including morris dancers, children's entertainers,musicians and mummers entertaining locals and visitors alike.
See their website at Beverley Festival
Folk music, song and dance in beautiful North Devon.
For info see Bideford Folk Festival
Taking place in Leicester's De Montfort Hall and gardens, this festival always has a big list of well known guests. It is a marquee style event, but one with a proper dancefloor and a proper session friendly bar.
Website: The Big Session
The Big Tent is Scotland's environmental festival. It is set against the beautiful backdrop of Falkland Estate and the East Lomond Hill. The festival started as a grassroots reaction to the G8 summit in Gleneagles and has grown to become the annual event for activists to come together, to be inspired and to enjoy a great weekend.
There's a fusion of world and folk music, children's activities, debates, poetry, exhibitions, workshops, demonstrations and local food in our One Planet Food Village. Kids up to the age of 16 go free and there's both day, weekend and camping tickets available.
For more info see Big Tent Festival
Held at the Met in Bury and organised by Phil Brown of Big Whistle Music, in conjunction with the Living Tradition and the Met, this weekend features whistles of all shape and sizes. Many of the traditional scene's big names have combined to produce some great concerts, with the whistle featuring quite prominently. Bands of the callibre of Flook, Cherish the Ladies, Dochas, the Mike McGoldrick band and the John McSherry Trio have all graced the stage here and the festival is well worth a look.
Some photos of the Big Whistle Weekend taken by Pete Heywood
Big Whistle Music website Big Whistle Weekend
Billingham Town Centre developed in early 1960s, by Billingham Urban District Council, as one of the first traffic free shopping precincts in the UK & each year since 1965 has hosted this Festival of fun & friendship, where cultures of the world unite & display a wonderful fusion of colour, vibrant music & spectacular dances from across the globe.
Groups & ensembles from UK & Worldwide perform traditional & contemporary music, song & dance in a blaze of colourful costumes. Arena & theatre concerts, street performance & special events at various venues in Billingham, Middlesbrough & Newcastle in this 8 day festival.
Participate in workshops, dance courses & children’s club activities.
For more info see: Billingham Festival website or e-mail email@example.com or telephone 01642553220
Described as "the biggest little festival in Britain", this festival is a mixture of folk, roots, blues and world music. It is held in a huge marquee in the East Sussex countryside. See their website at Black Horse Music Festival
The Blas Festival has been devised by The Highland Council in partnership with Fèisean nan Gàidheal and the Promoters Arts Network. It is a celebration of traditional music and Gaelic in the Highlands of Scotland, taking place in various towns across the area. It creates opportunities for young musicians to play and learn with established artists in the traditional music and song fields, and gives local communities a chance to enjoy performances from their own cultural heritage and beyond.
See their website: Blas Festival
Blazin’ in Beauly was started by the band Blazin’ Fiddles in the historic village of Beauly, 15 miles west of Inverness. With the aim of being “much more than a fiddle school” the intention of the week in Beauly is to immerse people in the music of the Highlands and Islands. You get the chance to work with world class performers; but the instruction is only a part of the week - the sessions, the talks, the concerts and the craic all add up to make Blazin’ in Beauly one of the foremost fiddle events in the UK.
Website: Blazin' in Beauly
A great traditional music festival weekend in the picturesque town of Coldstream on the River Tweed. Tuition workshops, concerts, ceilidhs and sessions provide a feast of entertainment. Participation is the key, and any age of player/singer can mix with acclaimed international tutors.
For more information see Border Gaitherin website
Located in the Pennine Hills in the Peak District National Park,this unique gathering features some of the best traditional singers and musicians around. It has sessions In local pubs, talks on traditional music and real ale bar. Weekend Tickets £20 Per Person to include Camping & Saturday Night Dance.
For more information contact: Mark Davies 0114 2851479, Mobile:07850475067
Drawing on a broad spectrum of contemporary roots music from across the world, the Brampton Live Festival promotes an eclectic mix of music with past performers including Suzanne Vega, The Waterboys, Sharon Shannon and Baka Beyond. Played across three stages and including musical workshops, yoga sessions, bars, good food, free camping and a wide programme of children's activities, this is a family weekend that takes place at the height of summer. The first Brampton Live festival took place in 1995 and since then it has grown each year to become one of the biggest folk and roots music festival in the north of England.
The festival was forced to cancel in 2010 - Please check their website for news about 2011.
Website: Brampton Live
Bristol Folk Festival returns to the city in 2011 after an absence of more than three decades. The indoor festival will take place in and around the revamped Colston Hall and has a hot property folk performer as its patron, the Mercury Prize nominee Seth Lakeman.
As well as many first class music acts, the festival features Morris dancers, mummers and maypoles, ceilidhs, 'posh loos' and indoor camping!
The festival has named its chosen charity as Cots for Tots, part of Wallace and Gromit's Grand Appeal. The appeal aims to raise £1 million to provide life-saving equipment for Bristol's St Michael's Hospital neonatal intensive care unit.
See Bristol Folk Festival for more information
This is a well established festival in a lovely seaside town. The celebration of folk music and dance envelops the small town of Broadstairs each year, meaning that every street corner and seafront pub is full of Morris dancers, musicians and singers. Those keen to learn can join workshops in various instruments, and there are a wide selection of artists to see too.
See its website at: Broadstairs Folk Week
This is a well established folk cultural event in the Welsh Border area, featuring many local, national and international traditional folk musicians performing in concerts, ceilidhs and displays. Bromyard host in excess of 75 events with many performers taking part in the festival based in the beautiful Herefordshire countryside. There is also an array of morris sides, workshops, children's entertainment, a craft fair, dance instructionals, sessions, real ale bars and food! This is a "green-field" festival with most things happening on site in marquees, although there are a few other venues which are utilised throughout the weekend. Camping available on site too!
Website: Bromyard Folk Festival
A small, friendly festival by the sea in Cornwall with an emphasis on enjoying and sharing traditional acoustic music.
For more info see: Bude & Stratton Folk Festival Website
A unique celebration of small free-reed instruments, including mouth organs, concertinas, melodeons, diatonic button accordions, and Jew’s harps, the convention will be just the place to enjoy the appealing music of these wonderful instruments from some of the very best talents from across the British Isles. It will be a great opportunity to find out more about the instruments and their music. You can visit a beginners’ session, join an elementary workshop, or, if suitably experienced, learn about style and repertoire at a workshop. There are also several opportunities for informal sessions in local music-friendly pubs.
For more info see: Button Boxes and Moothies website
Held in Cagliari in Sardinia, this is an Irish - Latin Fleadh, with guest tutors from both Ireland and more local regions.
If you love music and dance enroll and attend the classes: you will learn in a warm and pleasant atmosphere and you will have the opportunity to have excellent teachers as maestros from all over the world. In the evening there's the CaFlà festival with dozens of events: sessions, dances, concerts, free and open to everybody!!
For more info see: CaFla
Cambridge Festival is renowned for its eclectic mix of music and a wide definition of what might be considered folk. Traditional folk artists from the UK and Ireland rub shoulders with more contemporary acts, the finest American country, blues and roots artists, acclaimed singer songwriters and even the odd pop star. Bluegrass, gospel, cajun, zydeco, jazz, world, klezmer and a ceilidh are also regular features. The line up has reflected the many changes in the music scene from the 60s to the present and is always a hotbed mix of the old and the new. The list of performers who have appeared reads like a who’s who and the Festival has been a launching pad for many now well known artists.
Most artists perform more than once over the weekend on the different stages: Stage 1, housed within a giant marquee in front of the main Festival arena, the Stage 2, a more intimate venue, and the Club Tent, hosted on the Festival’s behalf by five local folk clubs. There, in addition to invited artists, members of the audience including some well known names get up and perform. Indeed very often the real stars are not the booked acts but the audience themselves, who create their own music in sessions in the bars and long into the evenings in the campsite.
Website: Cambridge Folk Festival
This festival is a celebration of the life and legacy of Hamish Henderson, a great Scottish folklorist, songwriter and collector. Organised by Edinburgh Folk Club, the Festival has been on the go since the year of Hamish Henderson’s death. An international array of singers and musicians will fill an action-packed week of concerts and workshops featuring music, song, poetry and storytelling.
Hamish Henderson (1919-2002) is often referred to as the ‘father of the Scottish folk revival’. Since the year of his death, Edinburgh Folk Club has kept the memory of this remarkable man alive in an annual festival dedicated to his life and legacy. But the Carrying Stream Festival is not just a shrine to the great folklorist, song collector, poet and songwriter, political activist - it is a Festival in the spirit of Hamish Henderson: celebrating traditional music, song, storytelling and poetry in all their historical and contemporary contexts, presenting established tradition bearers alongside international acts and up-and-coming talents. It is looking backward and forward, is part of the carrying stream of the folk tradition.
For details see Carrying Stream Festival
Since 1997, the Celtic Colours International Festival has featured hundreds of musicians from all over the Celtic world and attracted tens of thousands of visitors to Cape Breton Island. For nine days in October, Cape Breton Island is home to a unique celebration of music and culture as the Celtic Colours International Festival presents dozens of concerts all over the island, an extensive line-up of workshops, a visual art series of exhibitions, and a nightly Festival Club. Over the years, artists have travelled from Scotland, Ireland, Wales, England, Brittany, Spain, Denmark, Germany, and Cuba as well as from across the United States and Canada to join the finest of Cape Breton's musicians, singers, dancers, storytellers and tradition-bearers for the annual Autumn celebration.
One of the things that sets Celtic Colours apart from the vast majority of festivals taking place around the globe is that it isn't limited to just one location. Communities around Cape Breton Island host concerts and workshops at a time when the fall leaves are at their most brilliant and travelling around the island offers one breathtaking view after another. These communities are the places where the culture has been nurtured for over 200 years providing context for the roots of the music and celebrating each community's contribution to our living Celtic culture.
In many of these communities, the local fire hall, parish hall or community centre has hosted musical events for generations, in some cases, literally moving the fire trucks out of the hall to accommodate a dance. Venues for Celtic Colours vary from an 18th Century reconstructed French Chapel to brand new state of the art performance facilities to community halls, but all venues share in common the prominent place each holds in the community it serves. The Celtic culture of music, dance and story telling lives on in these communities and provides foundation for the celebration of living culture that is the Celtic Colours International Festival.
Website: Celtic Colours
Celtic Connections festival in Glasgow has become one of the major International Festivals. With an impressive line up each year, it provides a well needed month of music every January. Based in and around Glasgow's Royal Concert Hall, Celtic Connections has a wide and varied programme of events that will have something to suit everyone. Its legendary Festival Club is also worth a trip for those who like the chance to party on into the night!
Festival website: Celtic Connections
Nestling west of Jura, the stunningly beautiful Isle Of Colonsay (population:130) is the hidden gem of the Inner Hebrides. The island hosts its own annual music festival, Ceol Cholasa, perhaps the most intimate festival on the planet.
Stunning scenery, stunning beaches, stunning music.
For more info see: Ceol Cholasa website
The Ceol na Coille Summer School of Irish traditional music in Letterkenny is now established as part of the summer scene along the Wild Atlantic Way. And the school’s got an additional boost after Donegal was named the world’s coolest place to visit by National Geographic.
School organiser Paul Harrigan, an All-Ireland winner on pipes and piano accordion, says: “We’re in the heart of Donegal, which is famous for its traditional music. We have a great team of tutors and we pride ourselves on being friendly and welcoming.”
Ceol na Coille is based at Coláiste Ailigh in Letterkenny, a state-of-the-art Irish language secondary school. It’s the perfect spot to host classes, workshops and recitals. There are sessions and concerts nightly in Letterkenny and surrounding area. The long list of tutors includes many familiar names.
Ceol na Coille features an ‘introduction to music’ for young children. There are Irish language classes for adults. For teachers, there’s a week-long course approved by the Department of Education and Skills, headed up by Dr Orfhlaith Ní Bhriain of the Univeristy of Limerick.
For more information go to their website
Ceòlas is a music and dance summer school featuring expert tuition in piping, fiddling, singing, Scotch reels and Quadrilles, step dancing and the Gaelic language. It is set within the Gaelic-speaking community of South Uist. Ceòlas explores the vital connections between Scottish traditional music, Gaelic song and dance while allowing ample opportunity for participants to enjoy all these art forms in cèilidhs and in homes, the places which fostered them. Though focusing on Hebridean tradition, Ceòlas also has a strong Cape Breton dimension. Gaelic culture taken to Cape Breton (Nova Scotia, Canada) by emigrants from the Gaidhealtachd nearly 200 years ago survived there in relative isolation. Now, Ceòlas provides a unique opportunity to bring it all ‘back home'. Celebration of cultural links between music, song and dance, and across the Atlantic, is the School's hallmark.
This takes place each year in the village of Kelsall, near Chester, on the spring bank holiday weekend. It has a great mix of concerts, ceilidhs, workshops, singarounds, sessions, displays, craft fair, family events and childrens entertainment.
See their website at Chester Folk Festival
Chippenham is a small market town on the banks of the river Avon in rural Wiltshire, England.
Although it has seen many changes since its beginnings in Lacock many years ago, Chippenham Folk Festival still retains its 'village' atmosphere, providing three and a half days packed with song, dance, workshops and dance displays. Over 200 events take place within the town centre, turning the whole town into a giant party. The main ceilidh and concert events take place in the beautiful park alongside the river, while practically every pub and venue in the town is used for a vast range of sessions, workshops and smaller concerts and dances. There is also a full program of childrens events, a large craft marquee, catering facilities and an open air arena in the park. The High Street and historic Market Square are both pedestrianised, and are used throughout the weekend for busking, street theatre and processions. A huge street fair also takes place on the Monday.
Website: Chippenham Folk Festival
This festival brings together music from international and UK-based folk acts in a full weekend of family entertainment. Cleckheaton is a small, friendly festival, and offers a host of attractions such as concerts, workshops, dance sides, singarounds, concerts and fabulous street entertainment, including family fun.
Website: Cleckheaton Folk Festival
The picturesque village of Clovelly in North Devon is the beautiful venue for this festival. Folk music in Devon has undergone a massive revival recently. Live music invites participation; it binds communities and brings new sound and colour to people's lives in a time of austerity. The Clovelly Folk Festival aims to do just that.
The village harbour stage will be the setting for many talented Devonian singers and musicians with an eclectic mix of styles and voices, the festival will have a genuine West Country base.
This is a festival which locates traditional music in a traditional village, little changed in hundreds of years and will provide a spring time spectacle for all.
For more info see: Clovelly Folk Festival
The Cork Folk Festival’s annual objective is straightforward – to present the best of local, national, and international folk and traditional music, song and dance on Leeside in late august/early September each year.
The festival website is Cork Folk Festival
Held in Wadebridge over the August bank holiday weekend, this festival has drawn musicians and singers from all over the world, to experience the Cornish-Celtic culture, and to share other traditions. It mixes local talent with acts from further afield to produce a varied programme of events to suit all tastes.
See their website: Cornwall Folk Festival
THE HOLIDAY THAT PUTS A SMILE ON YOUR FACE, A SONG IN YOUR HEART AND THE SUN ON YOUR BACK!
While it is true that all folk music fans love a good festival, more often than not the abiding memories of the experience involve standing in a damp, muddy field in bitterly cold weather! Well you can now ditch those wellies, ban the brolly and forever erase the word ‘Portaloo’ from your mind as Enjoy Travel gives you the chance to experience an English speaking folk festival in the sun! Taking place at various venues including Mallorca and Portugal, there’ll be music, singing, dancing and laughter aplenty from morning until the wee small hours. What makes this the ultimate feel-good festival for folk enthusiasts is that it literally has everything you’d want from a traditional folk festival but without any of the drawbacks!
What this means for you:
• Great weather virtually guaranteed.
• No sleeping in cold, wet tents
• All venues located within easy reach of each other, the bars and your bedroom!!
• Sumptuous food and drink
• Luxurious surroundings
Imagine spending your days in the glorious sunshine with friends and loved ones, a glass of whatever tickles your fancy in hand as you listen to some of the world’s finest folk artists playing your favourite songs. Now that sounds like a festival experience to remember.
For more info see: Costa Del Folk website
Based in Ardara in Donegal, this festival is a mix of concerts, recitals and sessions, with a firm emphasis on the music of the local area. Each year the festival honours a local musician, 2010 being the turn of Johnny Doherty, a renowned fiddler from these parts. All weekend the pubs in the town are full of musicians who come from far and wide to sample the hospitality of this friendly and very picturesque town.
Website: Cup of Tae
It was back in 1978 that local musician Bob Cann had the idea that he would like to start his own folk festival to help revive and preserve the traditions of Dartmoor, and in particular, the traditional music, dance, song and crafts of the area.
The first three festivals were held in the grounds of Wood Country House near South Tawton, until 1981 when it moved to its present location in the picturesque village of South Zeal, on the edge of Dartmoor.
The Dartmoor Folk Festival is a friendly traditional festival, with highlights including Ceilidh, Song & Music Sessions, Dartmoor Stepdance and Broomdance Championships, Dartmoor Fayre, Craft Displays, Dances, Music Hall, Sunday Ramble, Folk Service, Pub Sessions & Children's Events.PLUS - Craft tent, Sideshows, Demonstrations, Dance Displays, Children's Entertainers and much more...The festival continues to attract some of the top national and local artists as guests. Camping is available in fields close to the festival site, with events taking place in the nearby village hall and playing fields.
Website: Dartmoor Folk Festival
This annual festival has a variety of music, lots of different workshops, traditional arts and crafts and dancing. A lot of the events are free! From "Morris Dancing Daleks" to a "Mexican weaving workshop" there is sure to be something to capture your imagination.
For more information see: Derby Folk Festival
This festival hosts a mix of concerts, singarounds, ceilidh dances and sessions. See their website at Doncaster Folk Festival for more details
Held at at the St Bride's Centre, Douglas, this festival has a selection of guests, concerts, pub sessions, workshops and the 'Open Stage'.
For more info see: Douglasdale Folk Festival
For the past many years Dundonald in Ayrshire has enjoyed weekly jam sessions in the local pubs. They now have their very own folk music weekend. It's a family friendly weekend with booked bands, concerts, music competitions, campsite and jam sessions. Dundonald is a small village that boasts a historic castle too.
For more info see: Dundonald Music Festival
This is a free summer music festival in Durham City, North East England, with several folk and traditional acts taking part. Streets of Folk is one of a series of free festivals taking place over the weekend including The Streets of Play, Durham’s international buskers festival and The Streets of Dance, a participatory celebration of dance in all forms.
For more info see their website
Organised by the Clarsach Society, this weeklong harp extraveganza is crammed full of all things harpy! Including concerts and recitals from some of the best players on the scene, classes on how to join in with sessions, courses on all different styles of harping, workshops on self-care for the harpist, to how to maintain and care for your harp. See the website at Edinburgh International Harp Festival
From small beginnings in 1985, this festival has grown to become well established, while maintaining its reputation for seeing great live acts in an intimate and family friendly setting. It boasts an impressive guest list and programme of workshops, concerts, displays, ceilidhs and children's entertainment. The musicians appearing at the Ely Folk Festival reflect the rich diversity of the modern music scene, with a mixture of established favourites and newer talent.
The Folk Festival is based on a single site which includes marquees, camping facilities, food stalls, trade stands, real-ale bar, real toilets, showers, children's entertainment... Ely city centre is accessible by shuttle bus (or 20 minutes' walk). Things also happen in town during the day e.g. morris displays and pub sessions. There is space for tents and caravans on site, and free parking is provided close to the festival site.
Website: Ely Folk Festival
This is a weekend geared for lovers of English traditional dance music. With its origins dating back to 1976, this festival is the ideal place for like minded people to have sessions, dances, talks and to get together to share tunes and ideas. It moves to a new location each year so be sure to check out the venue!
See their website at English Counrty Music Weekend
The Ennis Trad Festival is a festival for those who love to hear (or play) Irish traditional music of the highest quality in its most natural setting. Over 20 venues host selected exponents of the music, carefully mixed and matched to ensure a choice of many great sessions. In addition, spotlight concerts every night (Thursday to Monday) feature internationally renowned bands. There are many other events too, including CD launches, recitals, instrument and singing masterclasses and céilís. It all happens over a (very) long weekend in November, in Ennis, the capital of Ireland's premier music county - County Clare. See their website at Ennis Trad Festival
Cropredy is a village situated just North of Banbury in Oxfordshire. Since the 1970's Fairport Convention have run their "Cropedy Convention" on the second full weekend of every August, when thousands of music lovers converge on this village for a weekend of music and madness!! The line up here is quite eclectic, and attracts many big name acts. Its an outdoor gig, with big stages, marqees and all the usual trimmings of a festival of this size! Most festival-goers camp on sites provided by the festival, but there are other options for those who are so inclined.
Website: Fairport's Cropredy Convention
The Fastnet Maritime and Folk Festival is an international festival based in the picturesque village of Ballydehob, West Cork, featuring maritime and other folk music. The weekend includes sea songs, shanties, dance, craft market, maritime food stalls, workshops, sea songwriting competition, busking, music in the pubs and a main stage on Ballydehob pier. Most events are free (apart from the workshops).
For more info see: Festival website
Feakle nestles near the Sliabh Aughty mountains and consists of a community of approx. 800 people. Typical of a community of its size it boasts the usual local school, church and a few shops, four pubs, two restaurants and the local Post Office.
It is a parish with very proud credentials: many well known people have their roots here. People of the past of high renown include Brian Merriman who wrote the wonderful poem The Midnight Court and Johnny Patterson who composed many songs. Later years brought playwright Kieran Sheedy, sociologist Fr Harry Bohan, former Clare hurling manager Ger Loughnane and many more who have graced the national stage with great success.
Our musical culture has always been a major focal point over the years. People like PJ Hayes, Francie Donnellan, Paddy Canny, Martin Rochford together with present day players like Mary McNamara, Mark Donnellan, Andrew McNamara, Vincent Griffin, Paddy O'Donoghue, Seamus Bugler and many more who have kept the tradition alive. Martin Hayes has emigrated to the USA but his music can be heard worldwide as he enthrals audiences with his unique style.
The famous Tulla Céilí Band, founded by the late PJ Hayes, still plays regularly for céilís including the closing céilí in Feakle on the Sunday night of the Festival calendar.
The musical tradition is kept alive all year round with regular sessions at Shortt's Bar on Thursday nights and in Pepper's Bar on Wednesday nights. Many impromptu sessions take place on other nights of the week throughout the village and concerts are regularly held at Pepper's. The younger musicians are taken care of with top quality music teachers Mary McNamara and Vincent Griffin.
The Feakle Festival is one of the regular features on the Irish festival calendar. For more details see their website at Feakle Festival
Since its creation 40 years ago, the Lorient Interceltique Festival promotes the "interceltisme": a common identity based on the diversity of cultures. Today, it has become one of the largest festivals at international level and each year it honours one particular celtic culture.
Website: Festival Interceltique de Lorient
Festival at the Edge is a celebration of story telling where you can experience tales from around the world that will make you laugh, cry and wonder. FATE is for everyone - for people looking for something new as well as for those already bitten by the story bug.
From Friday to Sunday, there is always a choice of something on offer - the best international storytellers in performance, music, comedy and related arts. There are practical workshops, story rounds and informal music sessions for you to join in. At night the bonfire sessions continue until late (or dawn!). Since 1999, the Festival has commissioned major new storytelling performances to premiere at the festival each year.
They provide a children's festival that runs throughout the festival weekend, mixing specially booked children's performers with performers from the main festival.
The festival always takes place over the third full weekend in July (Fri - Sun) on a stunning greenfield site on Wenlock Edge, just outside the historic town of Much Wenlock, Shropshire. The programme begins on Friday evening at 7pm and closes at 5pm Sunday afternoon.
There is on-site camping for Weekend, Sat/Sun and All Day Saturday ticket holders. The site is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest - unfortunately this means that the only fires allowed on site are the storytelling bonfires. They have a craft fair, on-site catering and a CAMRA real-ale bar.
Website: Festival at the Edge
See their website here
The Fiddler's Green Festival has come a long way in the last 24 years. It began as a one day event, progressed to a weekend one and now extends to eight days and seven nights of music, culture and craic. With up to 200 events the festival caters for music fanatics, families who wish to enjoy a safe, child focused festival, and those who come just to soak up the scenery, the friendliness and the free outdoor music.
Based in the scenic village of Rostrevor, preparations for the 24th festival are well in hand. There will be free outdoor ceilis, an open air stage, art exhibitions, children's entertainment and even a literary pub crawl, with the emphasis on 'literary' rather than 'crawling'!
Website: Fiddler's Green Festival
This weekend of traditional singing takes place at The Fife Animal Park, Birnie Field, Birnie Loch, Collessie, by Ladybank, Fife. The first Traditional Singing Weekend took place in May 2003 and has been repeated annually since. FifeSing is a unique opportunity to meet, hear and talk with a selection of the finest exponents of Scottish traditional singing to be found today - and, of course, to participate in the singing.
The weekend includes, singarounds and sessions where all who wish can participate. It also includes concerts featuring the guest singers and workshops/talks on topics related to traditional song and culture.
Website: Fife Traditional Singing Weekend
Over the past ten years the seaport town of Fishguard has been host to a small traditional music festival. With concerts, dance displays, workshops, meet the artist events, busking, informal music and song sessions, the town is filled with colourful displays of dancing, along with tunes, airs, jigs and reels. Also featuring the popular guided ‘Pirate and Smugglers’ walk. This small, friendly festival is mainly free, and embraces the talents of old and young alike, and actively encourages visitors to join in the sessions with the ‘stars’ of the show. Everyone is a part of the entertainment - not just a spectator and there is lots of opportunity to ‘do your own thing’.
Website: Fishguard Folk Festival
At the Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann inaugural meeting in September 1951 it was decided to create a national festival named Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann (Festival of Music in Ireland).
County, provincial and worldwide Fleadhanna are very important events in the traditional Irish music calendar and annual Comhaltas events include Fleadh Nua, Fleadh na Breataine (an All-Britain Fleadh Cheoil), regional Fleadhanna in Britain, Japan and the USA.
The goal of the Fleadh Cheoil has been to establish standards in Irish traditional music through competition. The Fleadh has developed as a mainly competitive event, but also includes showcases of concerts, céilithe, parades, pageants, and street sessions.
The continued growth in the number and standard of Fleadhanna held have facilitated competitors to qualify from county, provincial and regional levels for the All-Ireland finals at Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann.
The Fleadhanna at each level provide a platform and a meeting place for over 10,000 musicians, who carry on the great tradition of playing and cherishing our music, songs, and dances.
And when the competitions are over, many impromptu sessions take place which sometimes last until the early hours.
Each year this Fleadh Cheoil moves to a different town, and 2010 sees it taking place in Cavan.
Website: Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann
A weeklong celebration of Irish music, song and dance, held annually in Ennis, Co Clare.
Website: Fleadh Nua Ennis
This festival is held in the village of Trelawnyd, Flintshire, North East Wales (circa 30 mins drive east of Chester). It is run by a family living in the village, music fans just trying to bring some great folk artists to North Wales and to a village hall venue with an intimate atmosphere.
The festival boasts home made foods, assisted by our Festival Chef, local Welsh beers and beverages, a heritage walk, select artist workshops, admission priced per session. There is camping available at a local farm (15 mins walk from the Hall). All named artists perform in the Hall (ie. undercover)
See their website for more detailed information.
A one day festival of contemporary folk artists in the leafy grounds of Hatfield House, Hertfordshire.
For more information see: Folk By The Oak
A weekend festival set in the ancient parkland of Glemham Hall to celebrate the best in folk, roots and acoustic music from near and afar. With a passion for championing the great “folk” of the Eastern region, there will be quality arts and heritage crafts, traditions and vintage gems to discover, food from local producers and lashings of real ale all at reasonable prices and all manner of workshops and activities to keep big and small folk entertained.
For more details see: www.folkeast.co.uk
Note: ‘Glem’ meaning ‘gleam/happy’and ‘ham’ meaning ‘village’. Perfect!
Furness Tradition is a folk-arts development group based in the Furness market town of Ulverston on the edge of the Lake District in north-west England. The group was initiated by volunteers to celebrate, encourage and make familiar the musical inheritance of the Furness and South Lakeland area of South Cumbria.
The Annual Furness Tradition Festival takes place in and around the centre of the old Market town of Ulverston. There is a Friday evening gathering event, sessions, ceilidhs, crafts and dancing displays in the town market place, concerts, workshops and more.
Website: Furness Tradition Festival
The venue for this festival is next to the magnificent National Trust Southwell Workhouse, approximately 13 miles from Nottingham and 8 miles from the A1 and Newark. The site has three stages with undercover seating, along with on-site camping, craft and trade stalls and varied food outlets.
See their website: Gate To Southwell Folk Festival
In the heart of Co. Antrim nestled between the major towns of Ballymena and Magherafelt lies the village of Portglenone. The village rests along the banks of the River Bann, which has been immortalised by countless artists and writers down through the years.
It is here in this idyllic setting that the “Gig’n The Bann” Cross Community Music and Dance Festival takes place. This festival is quickly becoming one of the major events on the Summer Festival Calendar having built a reputation for offering a most impressive line-up of top performers spanning Traditional, Scottish and Folk Music circles.
The ethos of the festival is to bring together musical traditions across all cultural divides and the direction pursued in recent years has been to incorporate the Ulster Scots tradition alongside Traditional Irish music. This has greatly enhanced audience participation in a diverse range of events. It has also meant that people from different sides of the community have become exposed to music, song and dance that they may not have been familiar with before.
Website: Gig'n the Bann
One of the longest running Scottish folk festivals, Girvan is renowned for its quality concerts, lively sessions and a warmth of welcome. This seaside town in South Ayshire comes alive on the May bank holiday weekend, and is well worth a visit.
See their website at Girvan Folk Festival
This weekend festival in Glenfarg, Perthshire, has a great friendly atmosphere, and a good mix of concerts and sessions. Throw in some top class children's entertainment, an original song competition and the world famous Puff a Box competition, and you have the right blend for a fantastic weekend. Website : Glenfarg Folk Feast
With workshops, concerts, dance displays, sessions, craft fairs, and a late night festival club, this festival is sure to have something for everyone.
See their website at Gosport and Fareham Easter Festival
This intimate festival on the beautiful Gower Peninsula in south west Wales, has now moved to the grounds of a pub and micro-brewery. Great concerts, dances, workshops, ale and beaches on the second weekend in June. See website for details of artists appearing: Gower Folk Festival
The Gwyl Pontardawe festival is an annual celebration of world music and dance which has taken place every August, with one exception, since 1978.
It has developed from a small essentially Celtic folk music-based event into an important international music festival attracting up to 20,000 visitors.
The Festival in December is a day long extension of the monthly Ceilidhs and Acoustic Concerts that are organised by Haddenham Ceilidhs, and give you an opportunity to enjoy performances that cannot normally be seen at their regular monthly events. The day consists of several concerts and then a ceilidh in the evening.
For more information see: Haddenham Folk Festival
A new autumn festival has been announced for Hartlepool’s historic headland, and it’s aiming to put the town back on the folk music map.
Hartlepool Folk Festival brings a packed programme of concerts, workshops, talks, screenings and special events to the 3-day extravaganza in October. Venues from the Borough Hall to local churches and pubs will be filled with music, dance and song.
The festival has a strong focus on the music and traditions of Teesside and the North East. Festival Director Joan Crump explains: “This region has incredibly rich music and dance traditions, and I wanted to be able to celebrate what makes it special. I love when festivals have a strong sense of place, and here you’re spoilt for choice."
There is also a vibrant food festival in the Town Square selling street food and regional produce, with regular busking and morris performances. Local pubs will host sessions, singarounds and featured spots hosted by the town’s folk clubs.
For more info see: Hartlepool Folk Festival website
This festival in Sussex has all the usual hallmarks of a good one. Live music, morris dancing, sessions, ceilidhs, the crowning of the May Queen, and the release of the Jack! Sound intriguing? Check out their website at Hastings Traditional Jack in the Green
The Outer Hebrides, located off the north west coast of Scotland, incorporate the islands of Barra, South Uist, Benbecula, North Uist, Harris and Lewis; a group of islands each uniquely different.
The Festival centres on the main venue in Stornoway, a large marquee, capable of accommodating up to 5000, which is set in the scenic grounds of Lews Castle. In addition to the many complementary events in Stornoway, the 'capital' of this island group, a variety of events are hosted by community groups around the islands of Lewis and Harris.
Four days of music in one of the most unique settings in the world including spectacular supershows, intimate concerts and a variety of events for all the family.
Website: Hebridean Celtic Festival
Holmfirth Festival of Folk grew from the ashes of Holmfirth Folk Festival in 2005 and has become an excellent community based festival which draws in a large local audience in addition to the usual 'folkies' who travel around the country visiting the many folk festivals that take place throughout the year.
The events take place in the local pubs and on the streets. The vast majority of the events are free although audiences are encouraged to contribute to the collection buckets! The only paid events are the concerts in the Old Bridge function room and the Ceilidh. Tickets were introduced mainly as a means of controlling numbers.
Because of the nature of the venues they don't go for 'big names' but be assured that you will get quality.
Website: Holmfirth Festival of Folk
Tthe House Folk Scottish Music Festival brings you two nights of Scottish music performed by top artists in a highly unusual and intimate venue, MacGregors Barn. The concerts take place every year in autumn in the village of Kinlochard situated in the Heart of the Trossachs.
The concerts offer an expo of bagpipe, accordion, strings, fiddle, vocals and flute music fusing traditional and contemporary Scottish styles that have influenced the music scene around the globe. Each night differs from the other but both include a blend of great music for everyone with a mix of folk and traditional styles!
For more info see: their website
Hull Folk Festival is about celebration – a celebration of music, culture, arts, crafts, dancing, real ales, good food and anything else you can give us folk to celebrate. We don’t really need an excuse but it’s always nice to have one in mind.
For more info see: Hull Folk Festival website
The Inishowen Traditional Singers' Circle was formed in 1988 to celebrate, encourage, foster and perpetuate the folk song and ballad tradition of the Inishowen Peninsula in Co Donegal. They hold an annual singing weekend in March each year. It combines scholarly presentations, song recitals and numerous open singing sessions. Up to 300 attend each year and nearly all are singers. More than half are local residents with many visitors coming from Britain and North America.
For more information see: Inishowen Traditional Singers Circle
Innerleithen is a small town on the River Tweed about 30 miles south of Edinburgh in the Scottish Borders. The seed for the Innerleithen Music Festival was sown when Both Sides of the Tweed (another borders festival that moved towns each year) came to the town in 2001 and 2002. The town's own festival grew from that and over the years has been nurtured by luminaries of the music scene. The festival has a variety of concerts, singarounds, sessions and workshops. In addition it has its own fringe events and a festival club.
See the website at Innerleithen Music Festival
This is an exciting and dynamic festival held at a different university each year. IVFDF has been running since 1951 and is the country's longest continually running folk festival. The tour so far spans over 20 locations as far apart as Exeter in the south and Aberdeen in the north. You don't have to be a student to go, just vaguely young or energetic. The Festival is particularly aimed at students, but it is open to everyone and caters for a wide range of ages and interests with numerous ceilidhs and workshops covering a wide range of dance styles - Scottish Country, Highland, Morris, Rapper Sword, Irish, and Playford are typical examples, with plenty of more exotic workshops varying from year to year.
The keyword is FESTIVAL: basically, hundreds of people attending for three days and two nights of intense dancing, playing music and singing, until they are unbelievably exhausted; A non-stop weekend of music and dance from the British Isles and beyond - there is the option of sleep for those who can bear to miss something.
For more info see: IVFDF website
Mumming in all its varied forms is an activity that once had high status as a royal entertainment.
By the C19th it had become a cadging tradition widespread in rural areas, but by the end of the C20th most of the UK population had never heard of it.
This festival is raising the profile of mumming. It is providing a platform for mummers to perform in the glorious and historic City of Bath, entertaining the throngs of shoppers who flock to the city in the run up to Christmas.
The Bath International Mummers Unconvention is run by a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to promoting mumming.
For more info see their website
The Ipswich Riverside Folk Weekend started with a folk session at the Steamboat Tavern. The session’s been going for a few years now, and in June 2004, landlady Val Bint decided to try something a bit more ambitious and host a whole weekend of folk music and dancing.
The Steamboat Folk Weekend 2004 was a huge success and people enjoyed it so much they decided to do it again! But the event became bigger than the pub; they wanted to tie it in more closely with the pub’s dockside location but they also wanted to put it on the map as an Ipswich event, not just the Steamboat’s – hence the change of name in 2005 to Ipswich Riverside Folk and Maritime Festival.
After three very successful years as IRFMF, however, financial constraints started to creep in, and the organisers also discovered some disadvantages to advertising a “folk festival” at such a small venue – so they split the difference and reverted to Ipswich Riverside Folk Weekend, a laidback weekend of music and beer, in which form we hope it will continue for many years to come!
Website: Ipswich Riverside Folk Weekend
“A gem of a weekend of music and friendliness in a stunning location" says the Guardian. This festival is for those who like to experience their music in intimate settings. From the village square you are never more than a few minutes walk to any of the venues including the main stage marquee and camping area.
For more info see Ireby Festival website
This summer school takes place in Drumshanbo, a small picturesque town situated in the very heart of County Leitrim, Ireland. It is a week long traditional festival of music, song and dance named after the man who did so much to promote the cause of Leitrim and his beloved town.
The committee continue to emulate his high ideals, endeavouring to promote Leitrim's heritage of traditional music, while handing on the best traditions of the past to future generations.
Classes are open to people of all ages with some previous experience, although beginners are welcome to the set dancing, tin whistle and bodhrán classes.
In addition to the classes and workshops there are recitals, ceilithe, lectures, and open air music events. The impromptu music sessions, the natural beauty of the Drumshanbo area and the traditional 'ceád míle fáilte' hospitality of County Leitrim provide an unforgettable week for all those who participate in the classes and also for those who just visit the town to be part of the experience!
Website: Joe Mooney Summer School
A weekend of traditional music and song in Drumkeeran, in honour of the great flute player John McKenna (1880-1947) who left Leitrim for the USA in the 1920s and recorded twenty-two 78 records in New York, all of which are available from festival organisers, the John McKenna Society. Mostly informal, it attracts many musicians, especially flute players of course.
For more info see: John McKenna website
The lively heritage town of Ardara nestled in the bosom of the Bluestacks boasts breathtaking views out over the Atlantic, craic that is legendary and people who are friendly. Here is variety in abundance seldom found elsewhere. Uncrowded sandy beaches, mountain passes, scenic views, forest walks, historical landmarks, a wide range of countryside and coastal walks to choose from and quiet roads throughout the district make sightseeing a pleasure for the motorist, hiker or cyclist.
The area is rich in folklore and archaeology, home of handwoven tweed and knitwear, nightly ballad sessions and traditional music during the summer season. For the keen angler, facilities for lake, river and sea fishing are readily available. Our friendly hospitable people are ever ready to make the visitor feel at home. William Keogh in his 1984 publication “the friendly Towns of Ireland” states that to him Ardara is Donegal.
The festival celebrates the music and life of Johnny Doherty - perhaps the most famous of Donegal's fiddlers. With nightly concerts, sessions and ceili's in the local bars, this festival is sure to hit the mark!
Held annually at The King & Queen, 1 Foley Street, London W1W 6DL, in honour of one of the Musical Traditions Club founders, this small gathering is a highlight on the traditional calendar.
Kilcar is the gateway to the Donegal Gaeltacht, situated between mountain and sea – a great centre for both activity and relaxation, offering the best in culture and tradition with modern amenities.
The Kilcar Fleadh is a 5 day festival of traditional music, songs and dance, celebrating the living heritage of traditional music in South West Donegal. The events will include Concerts, The Rambling Session, Ceili – Cross roads dance, Music & Dance workshops daily and a heritage day displaying Heritage, Crafts & Culture of Kilcar and the surrounding area.
For more info see: Kilcar website
Knockengorroch Festivals were born from a love of roots music, and created with the express aim of rural regeneration in the Uplands of Scotland. Bringing first class World Music Acts to a beautiful and undiscovered upland corner of Scotland, seemed an excellent and relevant way to further this aim.
Originally held at Knockengorroch Farm in Galloway, we have also held festivals in the Forest of Ae near Dumfries, and Talnotry near Newton Stewart. All locations have a breath-taking beauty and 'upland' position in common, and it is this focus that Knockengorroch Festivals continue to promote.
The object of Knockengorroch artistic direction is to establish progressive linkage between the celebration of the natural amphitheatre of its two Galloway venues and the now far- flung Celtic diaspora, once rooted in such homely places.
On the still wider contemporary seas of world-music the aim is primarily to promote multi-cultural forms and musical genres, highlighting the connection between roots music and the land that gave birth to that music and its people.
Music from all continents is therefore booked alongside the best in Scottish, and European talent to showcase Celtic and World music in both traditional and contemporary fields.
It is Knockengorroch’s unique remit not only to celebrate ethnic diversity and fusion, but to make the music home amongst the hills once more, and give it up to the people …
Website: Knockengorroch World Ceilidh
This is a new festival where there will be live music from booked guests and sessions at a number of venues aroung the town for the whole weekend. Camping will be available - with services. Styles of music range from celtic, traditional and contemporary folk, roots, acoustic and traditional.
For more info see Lanark Music Connections
The Leigh Folk Festival is a free, open event, held at several venues in the town of Leigh-on-sea, which is situated along the Thames Estuary just outside of Southend.
For more details see their website at: Leigh Folk Festival
This festival is primarily a dance festival, with lots of opportunity to try different kinds of dance, from morris and sword to appalachian. There are also workshops geared towards musicians who want to play for dancing. There is an occasional singaround to be had too.
See their website at Lichfield Folk Festival
This is a Sea Shanty Festival at the Baltic Fleet Pub, The White Star, The Bar Lightship and The Liverpool Marina. Three days of wonderful maritime music, performances from respected singers and musicians from across the UK and Europe. This is a FREE event. Great Songs and Great Beer!
Held in Llanbedrog in North Wales, this festival's aim is to offer world class acoustic music and tuition to the guitar enthusiast of any level. Whether you want a full guitar retreat experience for a few days or just join us for the concerts you will be most welcome.
For more info see: their website
The festival site is situated at Moss O' Balloch Park in the centre of Balloch. Balloch is 20 miles north of Glasgow, on the southern shore of Loch Lomond. It offers a blend of traditional folk music and song including concerts, sessions and workshops, as well as a craft fair, kid's entertainment and a camping/caravan site, all on the banks of Loch Lomond.
Each day there is music in the village square, and concerts and ceilidhs in the evenings, with a good selection of performing guests to chose from.
Website: Lomond Folk Festival
This festival takes place in North Yorkshire between York and Scarborough.
It has concerts, Morris and Longsword displays, singarounds, musicians sessions and workshops For more details call 01653 696226/07720 718067 or email mnff @ live.co.uk, or see their website at Malton & Norton Folk Festival
This is a maritime festival organised by Shanty UK whose purpose is to promote maritime music of all genres.
For more info see Shanty UK's website
Held in Irvine, Ayrshire, this festival has a fine mixture of concerts, singarounds and sessions, with quality guests.
See their website at Marymass Folk Festival
This new festival is managed by key personnel from the hugely successful Spratton Folk Festival in Brixworth, Northamptonshire. The event is planned as a family oriented, easily accessible summer festival featuring a wide range of live music supported by children’s entertainment, workshops, food and craft stalls as well as onsite camping facilities.
For more info see their website
With an impressive line up of guests each year, this festival is a celebration of the town's industrial heritage. Artists appear at venues throughout the town, while there are also Morris Dancing and Craft Stalls. The boating festival centres on the Trent and Mersey Canal and some 400 boats are likely to be in town for this!
See their website at Middlewich Folk & Boat Festival
The Moira Furnace Folk Festival at the heart of the National Forest takes place at Moira Furnace located on the Leicestershire/Derbyshire border, one of the most picturesque settings in the industrial midlands. The festival features some well known and talented main acts, plus local and national, up and coming artists. Events take place on the green site of Moira Furnace as well as the Miners Welfare a few hundred metres from the main site. Sing arounds and Sessions take place at local pubs some 10 minutes walk from the main site, with a Grand Opening Ceilidh on Friday Night. Plus a Ceilidh on Saturday Night in the Miners Welfare. There will be open air concerts all weekend, with cover from rain, as well as Ashby Folk Club in the Furnace Room. Children's Entertainment, also Real Ale and a variety of trade stalls selling food and items.
A wide variety of Morris dancing can be seen as well as Civil War Re-enactments. Local camping is available and free car parking close at hand.
Many tourist attractions are close to Moira including Conkers, the National Forest centre for recreation and hands on eco science as well as numerous country walks - dogs are allowed on site. There are tractor rides to various locations at the Festival as well as canal boat rides with musical entertainment on the picturesque Ashby Canal.
For more info see their website
Moniaive has been described as "one of the coolest villages in Britain". It certainly comes alive, during this festival weekend, where you can be assured a great line up of music from Scotland and beyond. Some great bands have headlined here over the past few years, Altan and Dervish to name a couple, and rest assured there will be more to come. But rumour has it that it is the village of Moniaive that is the "star of the show".
Website: Moniaive Folk Festival
In September 1966 a modest concert of Northumbrian music and song was held to raise funds for Morpeth Antiquarian Society. It was the inspiration for a one-day Northumbrian festival in March 1968 which evolved into the Morpeth Gathering.
The festival includes a vast array of competitions including crafts, performance and writing. Events of local interest nave been added to the programme of concerts, singarounds, barn dance, storytelling. theatre and street performance which includes a young people's pageant as part of the Border Cavalcade.
The emphasis of the Gathering is firmly upon the native traditions of Northumberland and. whilst there is plenty of scope for traditional music from all over the British Isles within the festival, the wealth of local culture is well to the fore. This is not blind parochialism by any means, but an attempt to maintain and spread the time-honoured distinctive and worthwhile features of Northumberland and its heritage.
Website: Morpeth Northumbrian Gathering
The Festival started at a public meeting of local musicians, hotel owners, publicans and a mixture of interested music enthusiasts in 1992. The first festival took place in 1993 and was headlined by Capercaillie. The festival committee were overwhelmed with the response and people in Campbeltown quickly took the festival to their hearts.
The Mull of Kintyre has a strong background of successful ceilidh bands, Gaelic choirs, Pipe Bands, Brass Bands and Modern & Highland dancers, and the Festival committee complimented this by introducing international folk/traditional acts from all over the world.
The demand to attend and participate in this vibrant festival which is also in an idyllic setting always astounds this hard working voluntary committee and they are determined to make visitors welcome to Campbeltown for the Mull of Kintyre Music Festival.
Website: Mull of Kintyre Music Festival
Australia’s festival flagship, the ‘National’, draws together people from all around Australia and the world. They come to share in the songs, dances, tunes, and verse that have flowed through the ages from many communities into Australian folk culture.
For five days Exhibition Park in Canberra becomes a magic place, filled with colour and sound. Hundreds of the world’s best musicians perform daily, in a non-stop flow of entertainment across twenty two fabulous venues. Every day is packed with workshops and sessions, where you can join in the dancing, singing and playing and become part of the celebration.
For more info see National Folk Festival
This festival takes place in Leicestershire, right at the heart of England, set in the rejuvenating National Forest. It has previously been known as the Ashby Folk Festival.
See the website at National Forest Folk Festival
The idea for a folk festival came about during a conversation between Nick Curtis and Richard Digance. Richard has a passion for folk music, and he suggested a folk festival on Powell's Farm in Plaitford, Romsey, Hampshire, within easy walking distance of the New Forest itself.
It is a small family run festival with pitches available for caravans, motor homes and tents.
For more info see: their website
Just a few miles north of the Border with England, Liddesdale was the stamping ground of the formidable Armstrong and Elliot families. The village of Newcastleton was built in 1793 as a "model" weaving community, the original Castleton being a few miles further up the Liddel Water. With neatly aligned streets and squares, Newcastleton today is a picturesque rural village that offers leisurely times amongst friendly and hospitable people. The pace and life of Newcastleton has changed little over the years and it is captured in the famous Border song "Copshawholm Fair".
The Newcastleton Traditional Music Festival is probably the longest continuously running music festival in Scotland. Founded in 1970, the festival revolves around a series of competitions (mainly on Saturday), loosely linked by dances, organised ceilidhs and singarounds on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. Non-combatants create ad-hoc sessions in all possible locations and visitors are more than welcome at every venue. One of the most popular events is the Grand Winners' Concert on Saturday night, featuring the best of the day's competitors interspersed with passing musicians who failed to escape the press-gang!
Although the hotels and B&Bs in the village tend to be booked well in advance, ample camping space is available.
The Niel Gow festival is held in the beautiful Perthshire village of Dunkeld & Birnam, home of Niel Gow. It was established in 2004 to celebrate the life and music of Perthshire's fiddle legend. It is envisaged that through time the festival and other activities will gather enough funds to erect a fitting memorial to Niel Gow in Dunkeld & Birnam. With concerts, recitals, workshops and sessions, this festival features some of Scotland's finest fiddlers. Website: Niel Gow Festival
Following the great success of the North Atlantic Fiddle Convention in 2001 and 2006 in Aberdeen, and 2008 in St. John’s Newfoundland, the Elphinstone Institute in Aberdeen will again be celebrating the excellence of traditional fiddlers, fiddle music and dance from countries around the North Atlantic (14-18 July in 2010). Focusing on the theme of ‘Roots and Routes’, the North Atlantic Fiddle Convention is about cultural exchange, learning opportunities, future international links, and the celebration of artistic excellence and diversity.
Through the format of concerts, ceilidhs, workshops, academic conference, and informal sessions, the Convention will highlight the way the fiddle, fiddle music, and associated dance styles transcend boundaries of all kinds – geographical, political, and cultural – creating new traditions and fresh musical insights.
Website: North Atlantic Fiddle Convention
For two days in April this truly unique festival combines one off concerts with dynamic and exciting workshops for both adults and children bringing the finest in Nordic and Scottish music, song and dance to enthusiastic audiences in Edinburgh.
For more info see: Northern Streams Website
The Festival held in honour of the famous Harper and composer Turlough O'Carolan includes Concerts, Set Dancing Céilís, Harp Recitals, Lectures and Music sessions.
Harpers and traditional musicians world wide are now coming in big numbers to Keadue, Co Roscommon, for the August Bank Holiday Festival.
Off the Tracks has a festival in the spring, and one in the summer. Its logo is "Most of us will never do great things, but we can all do small things in a great way". This seems to suit it. It is a small festival (although the summer one is a bit bigger!) with a reputation for being well run. The music is a mixture of world, roots and fusion, and there is a wide selection of real ales to sample while you are enjoying it!
Website: Off the Tracks Festivals
Orkney Folk Festival has been contributing to the musical and cultural life of Orkney since 1982 and has established itself as an important event in both the Orkney and Scottish folk calendars. Many people enjoy the folk festival so much that they return year after year to experience the fine mixture of music and hospitality. The festival is based in Stromness, however events also take place in Kirkwall, Deerness, Evie, Finstown, Harray, Hoy, Rousay and Sanday.
There is a deliberate policy in the festival to combine well established folk musicians, and emerging talents from outwith Orkney with the multi-talented local musicians, some of whom are well known in their own right. Its a good mix that makes for a great festival.
See their website: Orkney Folk Festival
With concerts, children's activities, workshops, and craft fair, this festival offers fun for all the family. See their website at Oxford Folk Festival
When the Oxford Folk Festival was cancelled in 2011, the local folkies of Oxford – determined not to sit at home on a sunny weekend in April – pulled together to create Folk Weekend in its place.
With plenty of activities for all – including a family ceilidh on Saturday lunchtime, a concert on Saturday evening, and Morris Dancing and a Craft Fair, free performances, workshops and informal music sessions.
For more details see: their website
Perthshire is a beautiful county in the heart of Scotland, abundant with trees, lochs, rivers, mountains and moorland. It is the home of Dougie MacLean and many of his songs and melodies have been inspired by this land and the the people who surrounded him there in his youth and to this day. The Perthshire Amber Festival includes concert performances in an inspiring range of venues, from custom designed theatres, to castles, to an Iron Age crannog! It gives locals and visitors the opportunity to explore Perthshire with a focus, and for enthusiasts for Dougie MacLean's music to experience the place where he lives and gain a deeper understanding of the meaning of and inspiration for some of his songs and instrumental compositions. In addition, many top name guests are booked to play over the 10 days of this festival, in various locations across Perthshire.
Website: Perthshire Amber
The best of European bagpipe playing in concert and for dancing, plus workshops for bagpipes and repertoire development workhsops for all instruments, all held in indoor venues in Okehampton, Devon. The weekend is organised by Devon's folk arts development charity Wren Music, and is curated by Devon-based Border piper David Faulkner, who is at the forefront of the English pipe tradition. He is well known for his work with bands including The Eel Grinders and Zephyrus, and his solo work has included international tours and performances. He was the winner of the prestigious Trophy for Border Pipes at the Morpeth Northumbrian Gathering in 2006 and 2007, and also won the Duo Performance award there in 2007. David has a wide knowledge of English and other traditional British music, as well as great enthusiasm for British and European traditional dance.
Website: Piping Hot Bagpipe Weekend
Glasgow becomes the centre of the world stage for piping brilliance every August. Piping Live is exciting and challenging, traditional and contemporary and very much alive.
You’ll discover the experimental energy of today’s newest talent to the awesome accomplishment of established musicians from across the globe. There is something going on morning, noon and night. The venues are as varied as the performers, from workshops to masterclasses, ceilidhs to concerts and street performances.
See their website at: Piping Live!
A Festival of Celtic Music, Song & Dance, ideal for families, involving hundreds of musicans & dancers from the Celtic countries of Ireland, Scotland, Brittany, Cornwall, Isle of Man and, of course, Wales.
A weekend of non-stop concerts, dances, workshops, legendary sessions and Saturday’s colourful Parade of the Celts in Porthcawl, Bridgend County Borough, on South Wales’ beautiful Glamorgan Heritage Coast.
With our new base in the Grand Pavilion with two indoor stages under one roof on the town seafront, the festival is close to all the amenities associated with Porthcawl, one of Wales’ premier seaside resorts, Including the town centre, beaches, coastal paths & dunes, golf clubs & outdoor pursuit centres.
Also, if some of the family “don’t do celtic”, there’s plenty to do for everyone, especially at our self catering accommodation partner, Trecco Bay Holiday Park, where there’s enough activities and facilities for the most active of us!
Website: Porthcawl Interceltic Festival
This festival is a weekend of song, music and stories organised by the Folk at the Salmon Bothy.
For more information see Folk at the Salmon Bothy
Held on a farm near Swanage, this is a great weekend of music and song!
For more info, see their website
The Raise Your Banners festival is held in Kala Sangam and Bradford Cathedral and is a vibrant weekend of political song and arts. This biennial festival celebrates the struggles of ordinary – and extraordinary – people through, music, film, theatre, workshops and speakers.
One of the most exciting things about the festival is the incredible diversity of the events on offer, but within that diversity is the common thread that underlies the Raise Your Banners ethos – the way that political song, music and art gives voice to struggles for liberation, equality and justice, in defence of the environment, and for a better world.
Raise Your Banners draws people from across the UK and beyond to hear some of the finest performers of political music, to learn about the history of political song, to engage in debate and to meet others who share similar aspirations.
For more info see: their website
Raunds Festival is a great little festival held annually in early May with the aim of bringing live roots music and dance to East Northants.
Expect a long weekend of music and the arts based in Raunds in East Northants with concerts, Jazz Cafe, dancing, song & tune sessions, workshops, young people's projects and other events.
For more info see: Raunds Festival website
Camden Town is recognised in the traditional Irish music community as playing an important role in nurturing the tradition as many immigrants from Ireland came together in the local pubs to practice the traditional music of their homeland - the first time so many regional Irish styles had come together in such a setting.
There are still a healthy number of great traditional musicians, music followers, dancers, and singers in the City, including a succeeding generation that counts among it a large number of talented younger players.
The Return to Camden Town Festival has provided an excellent focus for purveyors and learners of the tradition and has sent a clear message that London is still on the map. It has also served to expose this wonderful tradition to London's wider multicultural population.
While most of the Festival is based at the London Irish Centre, expansion in the last few years has seen it incorporate a number of satellite venues in the area including Cecil Sharp House, The Shaw Theatre, Mazenod Centre, Luminaire and local pubs hosting sessions.
For more info see: Return To Camden Town Website
An international maritime festival that has a great standard of music, poetry, song and performances, and is lots of fun!
For more info see: Rosses Point Shanty
Rothbury Traditional Music Festival is a small, friendly, community based music festival set in the heart of Northumberland in Rothbury in the beautiful Coquet Valley. Over the last three decades Rothbury Festival has established a unique atmosphere that has drawn musicians and singers from throughout the country and beyond to spend a weekend sharing music and experiencing Northumbrian traditions. With competitions, workshops, concerts and dances, this is a festival well worth a visit.
Website: Rothbury Traditional Music Festival
Rudolstadt Festival is one of Europe’s most prestigious festivals for roots, folk, and world music. For four days in July, there are about 300 performances by 150 artists. The musical richness and its contrasts hold out the promise of unexpected discoveries and account for the festival’s mesmerizing appeal. Every year Rudolstadt showcases the music and dance style of one particular country. Other key elements include workshops, the dozens of buskers in the historical town centre, the instrument makers’ centre, global club culture, exhibitions and a big children’s festival.
For more information see Rudolstadt Festival
See their website at Ryedale Folk Weekend
Saddleworth is a picturesque area which nestles on the edge of the Pennines between Yorkshire and Lancashire, and is made up of several charming villages including Greenfield, Friezeland, Delph, Dobcross, Denshaw and Diggle, but the chief one is Uppermill. Here visitors will find numerous tourist attractions - narrowboat rides on the Huddersfield Canal, the old Museum, a Countryside Visitors Centre and several gift shops. We're also very close to Oldham, Huddersfield and Ripponden with all their attractions.
Saddleworth has an impressive reputation when it comes to large scale events - thousands of visitors come to the area every year to watch the Whit Walks, the Brass Band Competitions, the August Rushcart and the great Arts Festival which is held every 4 years. The original Saddleworth Folk Festival, started in 1998, was one of those popular events. It had established itself on the folk festival scene as one of the friendliest festivals around, and had an enviable reputation of consistently having impressive artists line-ups.
After a hiatus of a few years, this festival is now back on the calendar and is well worth a visit.
For more info see Saddleworth Folk Weekend website
Ceilidhs; Singarounds; Sessions; Chance to meet; Workshops; Concerts; Punch & Judy; Folk Dance Displays; Street Entertainment; Music Hall; Folk on the Internet; Indoor Table Top, Craft, Ethnic Clothing & Bric-a-Brac Market, Competitions : Traditional Singer / Singer Songwriter; ........and a line up of Artists who will make this a Special experience !
See their website at Saltburn Folk Festival
This new festival on Sark, one of the Channel Islands, seeks to reflect the blend of French and British culture which is intrinsic to the Channel Islands and which is still so much part of Sark Island life.
A community focused event this festival is a celebration of our combined island cultural heritage and musical experience, providing opportunities to perform, participate in and enjoy the celebration of traditional and contemporary folk music and dance, within an intimate, relaxed setting.
As well as live music on the main festival stages, there are also a variety of other cultural events over the weekend, including workshops in Guernsey French, Morris dancing, open music sessions in local pubs and entertainment for children. Channel Island crafts will be on display and the food tent will offer a variety of local delicacies to sample, including Sark’s rightly famous seafood. On top of all this, if you tire of the music and culture, there is the rest of Sark to enjoy.
The island of Sark is one of the most fascinating and unique locations in the world, and is the smallest of the four main Channel Islands. There are no cars on Sark - only bicycles, horse-drawn carriages and the occasional tractor. It is located 80 miles off the south coast of England, and just 20 miles from France - a short ferry ride from Guernsey or Jersey. The island is only three miles long and a mile and a half wide, but is surrounded by 40 miles of some of the most picturesque coastlines anywhere in the world.
The festival site will provide a spectacular back-drop to the entertainment. Located at the top of cliffs on the rugged west coast of the island, festival-goers will be able to enjoy panoramic views over the nearby Channel Islands of Brecqhou, Herm and Guernsey.
For more info see Sark Folk Festival
An annual celebration of Scandinavian music and dance in Clapham, North Yorkshire.
For more info see: Scandimoot website
This is a 5 day traditional music school held in Ballyferriter on the Dingle Peninsula (Co. Kerry, Ireland)during February each year.
It pays particular attention to the music, style and songs local to the Corca Dhuibhne peninsula in Co. Kerry, Ireland.
Local, national and international musicians come to entertain and inspire people with their music. Learners and their freinds from far and wide attend the classes for the various instruments, for singing or dancing and to taste of the area's living tradition while attending the Scoil.
See their website: Scoil Cheoil an Earraigh
Fiddle players from all over the world converge on Edinburgh in November for this weekend of music, with many top name guests and tutors. Held over three days, this exciting, fiddle-fuelled weekend includes concerts, recitals, workshops, talks, stalls, sessions, festival clubs, and ceilidhs. For anyone who likes listening to (or joining in, or learning about, or learning to play) music, browsing, shopping, eating, drinking, making new friends, meeting old friends, dancing, or even going on a guided walking tour, this is a great weekend!
Website: Scots Fiddle Festival website
A ten-day celebration of live storytelling, oral traditions and cultural diversity, bringing together a large number of Scottish and international storytellers and musicians.
The Festival takes place in and around Edinburgh. The main venue is the Netherbow Theatre at the Scottish Storytelling Centre on the Royal Mile, the heart of Edinburgh's Old Town. There is also a Festival on Tour strand bringing visiting international guests to other areas of Scotland to fully celebrate its rich storytelling traditions and ensure all can celebrate the magic of sharing tales.
For more info see: Scottish Storytelling Festival website
Nestled in the northeast corner of Scotland, between Inverness and Aberdeen, Portsoy's Scottish Traditional Boat Festival provides a holiday or short break destination with something for everyone - a real family affair. The Festival puts a special emphasis on boat building, restoration and sailing, and on associated traditional crafts, music and art. The Wally Green marquee has its own weekend programme of song and dance and the Old Harbour stage is “the place to be” with its programme of great music, song and dance including many old friends and newcomers to the Festival.
Website: Scottish Traditional Boat Festival
In 2009 The Dent Folk Festival moved to a new site just down the road near Sedbergh, England's book town, as it had outgrown it original site in Dentdale. The new site is a stunning location under The Howgill Fells and the move proofed a huge success and a great new home for the festival. Hence we have decided to change our name to better reflect where the festival is now held. The festival is still organised by the same dedicated team, all that's changed is its name.
The festival is widely regarded as one of the best small folk festivals in the country with a very friendly atmosphere. A weekend of family fun set in a beautiful location on the the western edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park.
Website: Sedbergh FolkFest
Selkirk Sessions Traditional Music Festival is a festival that has emerged after the Both Sides the Tweed festival was held in the town. It is a relatively small festival, based around the local pubs in the town. With sessions, concerts, workshops and competitions, there is plenty going on.
See their website: Selkirk Sessions
This festival is in Co Clare, Ireland. Festival ethos: To enjoy a diverse range of acoustic music in small venues without the need of amplification. You can enjoy around 40 gigs/sessions/concerts/recitals and dancing (inc. Sets) in 10 venues covering most musical genres. Over 4,000 people visit the festival as there is something for everyone. Families are encouraged to visit. The main venue, the COURTHOUSE is not licensed so families can enjoy the festivities together late into the night.
For more details see: Winter Music Weekend
This festival includes a family concert, ceilidhs, new bands new sounds, free events, session/pub music, and workshops for all ages.
For more info see their website
The festival is based in Shepley, a small village on the Pennine fringe, in West Yorkshire between Huddersfield and Barnsley. Its reputation is growing as one of the more friendly festivals, and it boasts an impressive line up of guests.
See their website: Shepley Spring Festival
The Shetland Folk Festival is the UK's most northerly folk festival, and is regarded as a prestigious event for performers, locals and visitors alike. Organised by a voluntary committee (and run by an even bigger pool of volunteers) the Festival prides itself in reaching out to even the most far flung areas of Shetland. Concerts are organised throughout the isles, consisting of some of the best International, British and Shetland music that the world has to offer. In fact, visiting artistes are regularly dumbfounded by the quantity and quality of local musicians that our remote isles have to offer.
The first festival was held in 1981 and has grown steadily throughout the years. It originated with a conversation held between the late Dr Tom Anderson and Charlie Simpson who had played at several festivals on mainland Scotland with the Shetland Fiddler's Society. Why shouldn't Shetland have a festival too, they wondered and so the planning began. This was the ideal event to celebrate Shetland's own unique fiddle tradition and rich musical heritage. The inaugural organising committee was formed and in affirming their pride in Shetland's own musical tradition, the decision was made that local performers would share the concert platforms with visiting artistes. With people like the late Willie Hunter to promote, there was no fear that local talent would be wanting. This is a formula that has continued through all the Festivals to date.
Website: Shetland Folk Festival
Shrewsbury Folk Festival offers musical and cultural diversity and a chance to discover new artists from the UK and around the world. With a wide range of booked guests, you are sure to find something to entertain you.
There is also an Open Mic marquee, a dance display area, children’s and youth’s events, singarounds, workshops, and opportunities to “Meet the Artist”. The festival site has showers, caterers, bars, on-site shop, and craft fair.
Website: Shrewsbury Folk Festival
Sidmouth is a small Regency seaside town on the World Heritage Jurassic Coast in East Devon, between Exmouth and Lyme Regis, surrounded by red sandstone cliffs and the green hills of the Sid Valley. As well as the Festival there are beaches to lie on, rock pools to explore and the sea to swim in.
With over 600 events to choose from, Sidmouth FolkWeek is a well established and well loved festival. Some people dive into the full festival experience, while others just give the weekend a try, or dip in and out of concerts, workshops or ceilidhs. There is always an impressive line up of guests and a great week of entertainment. Use of lots of venues throughout the town, from open air events and marquees, to smaller club venues make for a varied experience, with something to suit everyone. The streets and seafront are very much part of the Festival stage as well, with impromptu performances from buskers, dance groups, street theatre performers and entertainers to amuse you as you wander between the events. There are also open air ceilidhs and concerts in the gardens of the Anchor Inn, and sessions in most of the pubs. And then there are a host of other places that you'll discover once you've decided which workshops, social dances, lectures, discussions, storytelling sessions and other activities you're going to fit into the week's busy schedule!
Website: Sidmouth Folk Week
The Skerries Traditional Music Weekend is now a recognised cultural event which has gone from strength to strength. Once again, many of Ireland's leading exponents of traditional music and dance will both teach and perform in local Skerries venues. A high level of active participation is again anticipated - young and old, with skills ranging from novice to advanced - in a wide range of traditional activities.
Website: Skerries Traditional Music Weekend
Slaying The Dragon is a festival of the traditional arts to celebrate St George's Day, and takes place in Birmingham. It is run by the Traditional Arts Team who organises performance and training events in the Midlands relating to traditional song, music, storytelling and dance. It also publishes a monthly magazine of folk and related activities. The festival comprises a storytelling cafe, a folk-song cafe, dances, workshops and sessions.
For more info see: Slaying the Dragon
Since its foundation in 2005, Sligo Live has sought to develop a world-renowned Irish music festival, celebrating Sligo’s rich musical tradition, increasing the county’s positive profile and benefiting its economy through attracting large numbers of discerning visitors.
County Sligo has a strong musical heritage stretching back to the fiddle masters, Coleman, Morrison, Killoran, through Joe O’Dowd, Fred Finn, Peter Horan, Seamus Tansey, The McLynns, Pumpkinhead, Midnight Well, to Kevin Burke, Dervish, Seamus and Manus Maguire and the wealth of young and established musicians currently performing around Sligo, national and international venues.
Sligo Live is building on this invaluable profile through hosting a successful national festival celebrating traditional, acoustic and compatible music. The description ‘roots and branches’ neatly encapsulates the musical vision behind the festival.
Website: Sligo Live
The festival started as an offshoot of the local fiddle club Clwb Ffidil yr Wyddfa, with the aim of raising the profile of traditional fiddle playing in the area, giving Welsh fiddle music some well deserved exposure and providing a chance to hear and learn from the foremost exponents of fiddle playing from further afield. Set in the picturesque village of Nant Peris at the foot of Snowdon, the festival has become known for fine music and for its warm and friendly atmosphere.
Website: Snowden Fiddle Festival
Solas Festival offers a creative and entertaining programme for festival-goers of all ages in a safe environment. It derives inspiration and values from its roots in the broad Christian tradition. It is committed to equality, justice, beauty and hospitality. Their aim is to create a space which is tolerant, inclusive and free of prejudice, where people can enjoy the arts. The programme includes music, literature, poetry, talks, and visual and performing arts.
For more info see: SOLAS
Taking place in beautiful Hotham Park, The Regis Centre and other quality venues around the seaside town of Bognor Regis, this new festival revives the highly successful SOUTHDOWNS FOLK FESTIVAL which ran in the 1980s. Featuring some of the very top headline acts on the folk/roots scene, there will also be dance groups, art exhibitions, a superb Food & Drink Fayre, music workshops and sessions, ceilidhs, children's entertainments, archive folk film plus a choice of accommodation to suit all budgets. All in all, the new SOUTHDOWNS FOLK FESTIVAL offers a great weekend and excellent value for money.
For more info see: Southdowns website
Speyfest is the small town folk festival with big ideas, annually organised in July/August in Fochabers, Moray. Three days of Concerts, Ceilidhs and Stomps, with some of the biggest names from the world of traditional and contemporary Celtic music and all in the beautiful village of Fochabers on the banks of the River Spey.
For more info see: Speyfest website
Spratton is in the heart of rural Northamptonshire. This festival's main stage sees lots of bands over the weekend. But there is much more! In addition to the usual stalls, bars, morris dancing, children's activities etc, they are also offering workshops, opportunities to meet the artistes, traditional crafts and convenient camping facilities.
Website: Spratton Folk Festival
This festival is run by St Neots Folk Club. The committee work very hard to bring high quality acts to St Neots, in Cambridgeshire, and try to keep the festival as friendly and accommodating as possible.
See details of the festival on their website at St Neots Folk Festival
Stainsby Festival is a well-established event in a beautiful rural setting. Held in large marquees on a greenfield site at Brunt's Farm in the picturesque hamlet of Stainsby Derbyshire, it has stunning views across the valley to the National Trust's Hardwick Hall. Stainsby is a live music festival featuring mainly folk and world music.
See their website at Stainsby Festival
The Festival promises to be a glorious mixture of local and national music and is held in the romantic ruins of Kirklinton Hall. Maddy Prior, lead singer with Steeleye Span, which shot to fame in the early 1970s with hit singles such as Gaudete and All Around My Hat, is the impetus behind Stepping Stones from her home near Bewcastle.
Kirklinton Hall offers the Festival a highly atmospheric setting. There are plans for food stalls and a communal bonfire, and whilst Kirklinton’s main performance area is roofed, because the Hall is a ruin the music will be audible to people wandering around in the grounds as well as to those sitting or standing under cover.
For more information see: Stepping Stones Festival Website
Please find information on their website at Stokes Bay Festival
Stonehaven is a very attractive coastal town in the North East of Scotland, about 15 miles south of Aberdeen. There are many hotels and B&Bs in the town, as well as a wide range of shops, pubs and leisure facilities. There is a caravan park and there is a basic temporary festival campsite during the weekend.
The Stonehaven Folk Festival features a range of performances and workshops over a four day period. The main musical events are held at the Town Hall (off the Market Square) while there are many other evening performances and sessions at pubs and hotels across the town. A firm fixture in the Scottish festival calendar.
Website: Stonehaven Folk Festival
Having moved to Suffolk in 1999 and joined a local Morris side, Paul and Justine Salmon soon realised that most of the festivals they visited were in Cambridgeshire, Essex and Kent. They thought it would be good to have a festival in Suffolk and so in 2004 they arranged a day of Morris dancing in Woodbridge.
It was very successful and so they decided to have a stab at something a bit bigger and so 'The Suffolk Folk Festival' was born. It may seem to be a grand title for, what was then, a fairly small event but they gradually began expanding it.
Now there are many morris sides in attendance every year, along with rapper sword and Appalacian clog groups. There are sessions, concerts, ceilidhs and there has even been beer festival!!!
Website: Suffolk Folk Festival
This is a small TMSA run festival in the North of Scotland, between Aberdeen and Elgin. It has the usual mix of concerts, sessions, competitions and ceilidhs, all in a very relaxed and friendly atmosphere.
See their website at Keith Festival
A small friendly festival where visitors are made to feel very much at home. There are concerts on Friday and Saturday nights, as well as competitions, sessions and ceilidhs.
Website: Kirriemuir Trad Music Festival
The next festival will be held over the weekend of 17-19 August 2012 at Mold Rugby Club, Chester Rd, Mold, CH7 1UF.
Teignmouth is one of Devon's oldest seaside resorts and is located below the Haldon Hills and on the estuary of the River Teign. This lovely festival includes concerts, ceilidhs, dance displays, sessions and much more!
Details from Anne Gill 01803 290427 or see their website
Temple Bar Trad is Dublin's premier celebration of traditional music and culture. It's hard to believe that before the first ever Temple Bar Trad in January 2006, Dublin had lacked a traditional music festival for almost twenty years! Temple Bar Trad is all about the music. Each year, we try and bring some of Ireland's top traditional musicians (and sometimes a few friends from overseas as well!) to play during the festival weekend. Concerts range from small intimate affairs in the Project Arts Centre to larger performances at The Button Factory - all guaranteeing a memorable night of music! Temple Bar Trad is organised and project managed by TASCQ, the local traders group in Temple Bar as a non-profit venture. We pump every cent into presenting musicians and performances of the highest calibre at the lowest feasible ticket price, thus opening up the festival to as broad an audience as possible.
Tenterden Folk Festival is a long weekend festival of folk song, music and dance. Tenterden, situated in the ancient Weald of Kent, about 12 miles west of Ashford, is an ideal setting for this friendly, family folk festival. It features one of the widest High Streets in the country lined with historic and listed buildings, numerous friendly pubs and restaurants and green verges.
Website: Tenterden Folk Festival
Held in The Gleneagle Hotel and The INEC in Killarney, this is a celebration of the rich culture and diversity of traditional Irish music and dance. A highlight of Irish cultural calendar this festival includes a superb mix of live concerts, ceilidh's, set dance classes, instrument workshops and lectures. The festival brings together young and old, from near to far, for a truly unique festival!
Website: The Gathering
The Sea Shanty Festival is a new festival which will be held at the National Waterways Museum, Ellesmere Port over Easter from Friday 22 until Sunday 24th April 2011.
The Festival organisers were worried about the way the financial climate is affecting the music and the opportunities to perform it and keep it alive so they founded an organisation called Shanty UK whose purpose is to promote maritime music of all genres. They plan to run a maritime event every Easter and have a comprehensive Mission Statement underpinning their work:
Artists confirmed so far are: From Holland: Nelson's Blood, Enkhuizen 4+1, and Dutch Courage. From UK: Hughie Jones performing witn Bob Conroy, Andy Kenna, Andy McKay, Derek Gifford, Dave and Julie Evardson, Four n Aft, Geoff Higginbottom, Trim Rig and a Doxy, Monkey's Fist, Paul Sirman and Shanty Jack
A one time payment of £6 gives access to the museum for all three days. There is a seperate charge of £8 for the two evening concerts one on the Saturday and one on the Sunday. Tickets will be on sale in the museum during the event, and organisers hope to provide an online booking facility shortly.
Website: The Sea Shanty Festival
Tonder Festival is one of Europe's most respected folk and roots music festivals, both from an audience and from a performer viewpoint. The music is international folk and roots from Ireland, Scotland, England, USA, Canada and Scandinavia, among others. The music programme is of the highest calibre, and the Tønder Festival atmosphere and ambience are legendary. Tønder Festival has also an enviable reputation for top class organisation.
Fore more info see Tonder Festival
This is a folk arts festival that's programme comprises of folk and roots music, with concerts, ceilidhs, club sessions, international dance teams, family entertainment and workshops. It is held in Towersey, Oxfordshire, and is based around a showground which houses three performance stages. Other venues used include local churches, village halls and pubs.
TradFest brings Scotland's arts of tradition into the heart of the capital city, offering something for residents and visitors, old and young, artists and audiences, professionals and community activists - and all of them together. Many venues, organisations and individuals have been involved in curating events which take place in Teviot Row House, The Pleasance, Queens Hall, Scottish Storytelling Centre, Dance Base, Greyfriars Kirk, Arthur's Seat, Calton Hill, Portobello Promenade and many other locations.
All the things you would expect from a folk festival are in TradFest, with a vibrant range of music and song. What is less predictable is the cross-fertilisation of dance styles, the upsurge of folk drama, the wave of storytelling events, and the environmental happenings on Calton Hill, Arthur's Seat and Portobello Promenade.
For more info see: Tradfest website
The Festival is a unique celebration, bringing together traditional singers from Scotland, England, and Ireland in the setting of Cullerlie Farm Park in rural Aberdeenshire – the home of Eric and Tracey Walker (daughter and son-in-law of the late Anne and Tom Reid). The event is especially for those who like to hear, enjoy, and join in unaccompanied traditional singing. Essentially informal, friendly and non-competitive, it will be just the place to encourage the young and less experienced as well as the old hands. The weekend includes ceilidhs featuring the guest singers, singarounds for everyone who wants to join in, workshops, and a talk.
Read more at Traditional Singing Weekend at Cullerlie
A weekend of international dance, music and song.
For more info see: Tredegar House
Tribal Earth Summer Camp 2011, August 18th till 21st at Pestalozzi International Village, Sedlescombe, Hastings, TN33 OUF
Tribal Earth is a non-profit making four day family event of fun, relaxation and education in beautiful Sussex countryside
During the day: many workshops inc. traditional dance and singing, voicework, traditional crafts, learning to play instruments, stained glass and blacksmith workshops, theatre, tai chi, yoga, art, chocolate making, meditation and relaxation, drum circles, the acoustic tent for making music tog and much more.
In the evening: great bands, storytelling, late night films, kids cabaret, acoustic music round the fire, and we have our favourite fireshow back again with 'Ironklad' the giant fire-wielding warrior
On-site facilities: stalls, kids area, sauna (inc.hot showers) cafe's, healing area. Camping, campervans welcome, free parking and limited accommodation available in main buildings.
Tribal Earth is a non profit making family orientated, small (500 max) community based event in beautiful surroundings promoting community and safety, green ethics, personal growth and fun. Profits go to a charity providing housing and education for street children in Nepal. Tribal Earth has been running for 13 years and many people come back again and again, meeting up with old friends and making new ones, come and join the big family, you wont be disappointed.
For more details see www.tribalearth.co.uk
The Folk Festival is promoted by the Upton upon Severn Folk Dance and Song Society. Upton Folk festival is a small, town based, festival with a strong session and Morris dance bias. We try to book a mixture of up-and-coming and established acts.
For more details see: Upton Folk Festival website
This festival is located on the stunning site of the White Horse Country Park, Westbury Wiltshire and offers the visitor the very best in folk, roots and acoustic music from all over the UK and beyond; opportunities for participation in the VP choir or Open Mic slots together with a full programme for children. The festival musical soundtrack is all accompanied by a terrific range of the very best in festival food and drink as well as a great range of craft and other stalls.
From early Friday evening to last thing Sunday night your weekend ticket enables you to see our great range of performers for around 30 plus hours across four stages. The festival’s production standards are second to none – we use the very best in providers of sound and lighting! Plus – your weekend ticket also enables you to take advantage of FREE camping or caravanning on the well-provided White Horse Country Park.
Website: Village Pump Folk Festival
Warwick Folk Festival is a well established festival, which always has an impressive guest list and programme of events. Warwick School, the main festival location and campsite, contains the main marquee for headline concerts, the purpose-built Bridge House Theatre for intimate acoustic concerts, the Guy Nelson Hall for ceilidhs and workshops, a weekend craft fair and on-site catering. There are various other venues throughout the town itself which is buzzing with activity throughout the weekend, playing host to dance tours, mumming plays, pub sessions and concerts.
Website: Warwick Folk Festival
This is a festival celebrating maritime music and song, and is new to the festival calendar. It is organised by the Waterford Sea Shanty Group "Hooks and Crookes". This group got together for the Tall Ships visit to Waterford in 2005, and they haven’t stopped singing since! The festival will be staged in hotels and bars along the Waterfront, and in other outdoor venues.
For more info see their website: Waterford Seafaring Festival of Music & Song
Wath Festival was established nearly 40 years ago by the community. Based in Wath-Upon-Dearne in South Yorkshire, the festival has gained both local and national recognition as being one of the friendliest festivals in the region.
As well as community based events for all to join in, Wath Festival brings some of the finest international and local musicians and performers to the stage of the Montgomery Hall.
As well as the big names Wath Festival has a reputation for supporting local performers and the up and coming names like Ray Hearne, Katriona Gilmore & Jamie Roberts, Charlie Barker, Jon Gomm, Roger Davies, WW.Combo and Holly Taymar.
Check out their myspace page at Wath Festival
For more information on this festival, please see their website
This long-standing celebration of the traditional music, dance and song of the British Isles has taken on the trappings of a tradition in its own right. With over 600 events covering workshops, concerts, singarounds, dances, sessions, street entertainment and the extensive ‘fringe’ events that blossom spontaneously, Folk Week is a well established and loved festival.
Whitby itself is filled with examples of its rich and colourful heritage. From the Jet Workshop to the Dracula Experience via Captain Cook's cottage and the ruined Abbey dominating the cliff tops above the town, there is culture and tradition in abundance. Folk Week could not have a better setting.
For the ‘inner person’ there are many excellent restaurants, cafes and bars, real-ale pubs, and the best fish and chips in the northern hemisphere. And all this can be digested in the company of some of the finest musicians and singers in the British Isles.
Website: Whitby Folk Week
Whitby Sea Festival is an annual festival which takes place in and around the historic Yorkshire seaport of Whitby, one of Britain's premier maritime heritage sites.
The festival celebrates Whitby and the Yorkshire Coast's proud connections to fishing, the sea and maritime heritage.
Since its beginnings in 1993 as The Captain Cook Festival and then for 12 years at Seafest in Scarborough, the event has staged some of the biggest gatherings of sea balladeers, shantymen, folk musicians and singers in the UK.
The festival promotes local musicians alongside those with international acclaim. So far, their programme has included the cream of the folk, roots, sea music and the shanty world .They have also enjoyed music from other nations including Senegal, Sicily, Canada, Eire, Luxembourg, Germany, Holland, France and the USA.
For more info see: Whitby Sea Festival website
Taking place in Grove, near Wantage in rural Oxfordshire, WHFF is a small, intimate, relaxed festival where there is an emphasis on creating an inclusive atmosphere and encouraging everyone to play a part in the weekend’s events. There is plenty of opportunity to sing, play or tell a story with singarounds and music sessions every day, sometimes set around a particular theme.
Festival guests are encouraged to be part of the general goings-on over the weekend and will host workshops, mini-concerts or give special presentations as well as performing in the Saturday evening concert.
Local dance sides add colour and variety on the Saturday, dancing out or running workshops during the day, finishing up at the Bell PH in Grove. Then on Saturday evening in The Old Mill Hall, Grove, WHFF joins forces with White Horse Ceilidhs for a stomping English Ceilidh. Energetic and lively, the White Horse Ceilidhs have gained a reputation for lively, energetic dances which guarantee to have everyone dancing their socks off!!!
Please see their website at Whittlesea Straw Bear Festival
Wickham provides a wonderful setting for this Festival. It is a lovely village in which to spend a weekend enjoying excellent music, fine food, great company and lovely surroundings.
The main Festival site is located in a rural setting on rolling farmland alongside the Community Centre between Mill Lane and Blind Lane on the outskirts of Wickham village. The Festival campsite and car park are adjacent to the main concerts arena. There are craft stalls, real ale bars, an international food fayre, childrens entertainers, a chill-out zone, acoustic stage and many other attractions plus excellent amenities including indoor and outdoor toilets and washing facilities.
Website: Wickham Festival
The William Kennedy Piping Festival celebrates the life and work of William Kennedy, the 18th century piper, pipe maker and inventor who was born in 1768 near Banbridge and died in 1834 in Tandragee, County Armagh. This Festival, originally conceived to bring together pipers from different countries and traditions, was the first of its kind anywhere in Northern Europe. To date the event has brought pipers from Spain, France, Italy, Bulgaria, Hungary, Belarus, Canada, USA, England, Scotland, and Wales as well as the cream of Irish pipers to Armagh. The festival is organised by Armagh pipers Club which was founded in 1966 and has been to the forefront of traditional music not just on a local scale but worldwide through publications and a teaching programme.
Some photos from the 2009 Festival, taken by Pete Heywood, will give you some idea of the range or events:
Festival Website: The William Kennedy Piping Festival
"Willie Clancy was one of Ireland's foremost traditional musicians and through his expertise enjoyed an international reputation. Visitors who came to this country in pursuit of our native music invariably knew of this great piper and many of them visited him in Miltown Malbay. He had a storm of knowledge on Irish folklore and his love of Irish traditional music was exceeded only by his love of the Irish language." The Clare Champion, 2 February 1973
The Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy is Ireland's largest traditional music summer school, held annually since 1973 in memory of the piper Willie Clancy. During the week, nearly a thousand students from every part of the world attend daily classes taught by experts in Irish music and dance. In addition, a full program of lectures, recitals, dances (céilithe) and exhibitions are run by the summer school.
All events are held in and near Miltown Malbay in County Clare starting on the first Saturday in July. Registration for music and dance classes takes place on Saturday and Monday. The registration fee of €140 Euro, £130 Sterling or $250 US includes six classes, all lectures and recitals (except the Saturday concert) and reduced price admission to céilithe. Weekly registration only. Lectures, recitals, concert and céilithe are open to the public.
Website: Willie Clancy Summer School
This festival is held in Ellesmere Port, Cheshire. It boasts concerts, ceilidhs, craft stalls, instrument workshops, dance displays, workshops, 'Chance To Meet' events, Rolling Folk Club, music sessions and story-telling. It has its own bar and camp-site too!
See its website at Wirral Folk Festival
This festival is a celebration of Manx culture and the relationship between the Isle of Man and 5 other Celtic countries (Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Cornwall and Brittany). It boasts many events, including music, arts, dnace, language, crafts and lectures.
For more info see their website