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10 great reasons to visit Sidmouth FolkWeek

PUBLISHED: 10:16 20 July 2015 | UPDATED: 10:16 20 July 2015




10 Essential things you need to know about Sidmouth Folkweek

Fishermans FriendsFishermans Friends

1) Sidmouth FolkWeek has over 800 programmed events over an eight-day period – including 250+ workshops alone – with a ‘something for everyone’ appeal. From major headliners to intimate venue concerts, from high-energy roots parties and ceilidhs to folk dance; from a Children’s Festival to youth sessions; from storytelling to theatre; from dance displays to processions; from pub sessions to traditional singarounds.

2) Sidmouth FolkWeek’s centrepiece concert venue is the comfortable, hi-spec Ham Marquee with a lunchtime, afternoon and evening show each full day of the festival featuring the very best in the UK folk scene and beyond. Two pre-festival concerts feature much-loved singer Kate Rusby (8pm, 30th July) and shanty-singing Port Isaac’s Fisherman’s Friends (3.15pm, 31st July.) Throughout the week, the diverse programme includes: Scottish stars The Poozies (featuring Sally Barker from The Voice); Irish trad. greats Altan, entertaining Australian phenomenon Spooky Men’s Chorale and amazing Gaelic singer Julie Fowlis amongst many more. The Hub at the Ham is an atmospheric meeting place with a great local bar and full range of catering enabling festival goers to relax and enjoy their days and nights out.

3) 2015 will be the 61st folk festival running in Sidmouth. The very first event in 1955 saw a group of 100 or so folk dance enthusiasts meeting up for events in Connaught Gardens. This year we run three ‘Dance Spectaculars’ at 2.15pm on the Monday, Wednesday and last Friday of the festival, featuring a sensational range of dance styles from the sensational swirling Tashi Lhunpo Tibetan Monks to Appalachian stepping and UK-based ritual dance including morris, rapper and molly dance. Dance displays are a daily feature of the festival throughout the town.

4) Children and families play a central role in Sidmouth FolkWeek. Blackmore Gardens is the colourful daytime hub of the Children’s Festival, with a diverse range of amazing activities on offer, including workshops, family drop-ins performances and pop-up events for 5 years and under, to 8+. High quality family evening shows feature a puppet show, a storytelling night, a concert with the amazing Spooky Men’s Chorale and much more.


5) The revamped Bulverton Marquee is the hub for upbeat roots dance parties with the likes of Skye’s livewire Peatbog Faeries, festival gems Coco & The Butterfields, popular English roots reggae act Edward II and Demon Barber XL’s brand new folk/hip hop dance crossover show! Bulverton evenings start early with music sessions leading into the main evening gig, followed by a energetic Late Night Extra ceilidh. There are 30% off Early Bird catering/bar deals from 7 – 8pm, a cocktail menu and brand new Betsy’s Lounge, our dedicated post-LNE early hours chill-out space. 18-25 year olds are offered a special Bulverton-in-One ticket deal – in addition to youth tickets for under 18s and Bulverton Big Ticket deals for all.

6) Festival visitors can also browse the fantastic Sidmouth FolkWeek Craft Village, located at Peacock Lawn, next door to Blackmore Gardens in the centre of town. Open daily 9am – 6pm, there is a wide range of quality crafts on offer, with a focus on South West makers, including clothing, jewellery, stained glass, leatherwork, pottery, photography, ceramics, furniture and more. Soak up the atmosphere in the charming English garden setting and enjoy the delicious food from the on-site cafe!

7) Sidmouth FolkWeek’s programme of workshops is unrivalled in its breadth and depth, offering novices or experts a wide range of one-off tasters, week-long series, perennial favourites and exciting innovations with some top-name musicians, singers and dancers. With everything from percussion to fiddle; Shapenote singing to African Rhythm and Song and Balkan and Mediterranean Dances to Tibetan Monastic Dancing, there is something for all tastes.

8) West Is Best! As well as the wonderful Port Isaac’s Fisherman’s Friends, whose rousing and joyous set of shanties and Cornish songs kicks of the festival in a pre-festival special concert on Friday 31st July at 3.15pm, FolkWeek showcases plenty of South West talent: popular Devon performer Jim Causley, North Devon singer Jenna Witts; Exeter’s high-leaping Great Western Morris; Hothouse 2015 ‘s folk arts performance piece by 13-25 year olds; Wren Music’s Voices in Common Choir and Mandolin Orchestra of Devon and wealth of homegrown Sidmouth talent: storytellers Janet Dowling and Clare Viner; North West Morris side Sidmouth Steppers; prize-winning Sidmouth Town Band and Sidmouth Traditional Mummers .

Family FestFamily Fest

9) There is lots of variety and fun in store for dancers, with a reinvigorated folk dance programme including workshops, great in-town evening dances and exciting specials at Stowford Rise Community Centre (Friday to Thursday). How about The Devon Tea Dance with Sarah Bazeley and Moor Music with an optional Cream Tea included? For ceilidh dancers, FolkWeek offers plenty of energetic knees-ups, with many expert and entertaining callers to guide the uninitiated through their paces. The emphasis is on fun and enjoyment and Sidmouth is proud to champion many of the leading dance bands in the country.

10) Location, location, location – Sidmouth offers the perfect setting for a festival. A picturesque regency town by the sea, red cliffs rising on either side of the busy Esplanade, filling with the festive colour and sounds of buskers, stalls and processions during FolkWeek. With its great range of independent shops and businesses, there are also welcome opportunities for grabbing an ice cream, cream tea or drink, as you take a leisurely stroll along the seafront, dipping a toe in the sea along the way! The last night Torchlight Procession and Firework Display is always an extra special treat.

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