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Banbury Folk Festival & Hobby Horse Festival - 6-8 October

2017 sees the 18th Banbury Folk Festival, and sadly this will be with last one for now as organisers Derek and Mary Droscher have announced their plans to ‘retire’ from running the festival after this year. The festival started as a one day festival in one venue but quickly developed to a weekend festival spread over several venues in the town centre, with a reputation for being one of the friendliest festivals around. In the last two years the festival has amalgamated with Banbury Hobby Horse Festival and the addition of these mythical beasts has enhanced and raised the profile of the festival further and brought in a new audience. For their final year Derek and Mary are planning a bumper year for the club and festival, saying, “We want this to be a year to remember!”

Headlining the Festival on Saturday 7th October will be Scotland's Dougie MacLean, famed for writing 'Caledonia', who has built an international reputation as songwriter, composer and extraordinary performer. Dougie was awarded an OBE in the New Years Honours list in recognition of his services to music and charity and a Lifetime Achievement Award by the BBC. There will also be a chance to meet Dougie in an informal appearance earlier on Saturday.

Derek and Mary say, “We are delighted to be having Dougie back at Banbury this year – he last played the Festival in 2010 and went down a storm! He has the ability to stand on stage delivering his songs effortlessly and hold the audience in the palm of his hand!”

On Friday 6th October there will be an Irish themed Concert entitled ‘The Mighty Craic!’ The concert will be headlined by The Mighty Doonans. The Mighty Doonans have developed from the redoubtable Doonan Family Band who have been part of the English folk scene for many years. They have a deserved reputation for their imaginative and innovative interpretations of traditional songs. Also in this concert is Tipperary born singer-songwriter Paula Ryan. Starting the concert with a good dose of ‘blarney’ are local artists the Kevin O’Regan Band, with traditional and original material, accompanied by two superb Irish dancers.

The finale on Sunday was due to have a performance by renowned singer-songwriter Vin Garbutt, who sadly passed away on 6th June, with over 800 people attending his funeral in Middlesbrough Cathedral. Derek and Mary Droscher say, “We are saddened by the loss of Vin, who was unique in the Folk world: However stepping in for him is Anthony John Clarke, one of the top songwriters on the acoustic/ folk scene whose songs can move you from tears of emotion to tears of laughter! Anthony John’s set will include a tribute to Vin.”

Other top artists performing at this year’s Festival will be singer-songwriter and comedian Keith Donnelly, the extremely talented multi-instrumentalist Anna Ryder and Granny’s Attic, an exciting young band who are making a big impact on the festival scene.

Add to this many more artists, both nationally known and also local performers, performing in main concerts and acoustic concerts, plus many opportunities for customers to join in Folk Clubs, music and song sessions and workshops and you are guaranteed an action packed weekend.

After the success of last year’s Hobby Horse activities there has been a lot of interest and the festival is expecting many more hobby horses and traditional beasts to join in the fun. Dance-sides and Hobby Horses will be around Banbury Old Town on Saturday and Sunday, including a procession led by the Worcester Ukulele Club Band on Saturday morning.

The Festival is centred around Banbury Town Hall. Other events will take place at Banbury Folk Club’s home base at the Banbury Cross, the Reindeer Inn, the White Horse, Bodicote Cricket Pavilion and at the Methodist Hall.

For more info see: Banbury Folk Festival website