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Folk in the South

This page contains information and pictures from selected folk festivals in the south of England.

Morris at St. Mary's Church, Swanage.

Morris at St. Mary's Church, Swanage.


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Annual Events and Festivals

Information on these pages is independent and based on personal experience.

Listed in chronological order throughout the year. Approximate dates only. For full details see the Folk Roots festival guide. (Link below).

 

Gosport and Fareham Easter Festival

Some local musicans at the session

Another festival which seems to have discontinued... unfortunately. Details here are about the festival as it used to be, and of historical interest.

At Easter and takes place over the holiday weekend and so (like Chippenham) is longer than most weekend festivals. It evolved out of the Gosport Easter Festival, now moved to Fareham and has proved to be an enduring and consistent festival for some years. Mostly based at the modern Ferneham Hall complex with possibly some events at the Ashcroft Arts Centre nearby.

The festival mainly consists of concerts with some big names, and most having admission charges. Admission to the building is free and the bar (which is outside the concert hall) has informal sessions most days. Other rooms in the building have traders' stalls featuring folk music and various crafts.

This festival is becoming increasingly popular for the sessions which seem to have grown spontanously without organization. The session in the bar of Ferneham hall is mostly English music and is friendly and relaxed, and can be very enjoyable. There is often another session, mainly Irish, in the nearby pub The Golden Lion. In previous years there has been morris dancing on the Saturday morning in Fareham pedestrian precinct, but there was none in 2010. One of the first festivals of the year to get you in the mood for the rest of the year!

Click for pictures. Click for link to video

Click for pictures and link to videos.

 

Winchester Folk Festival

Winchester Folk Festival logo

Renamed from 2006 onwards as:

Winchester MayFest

The festival is back!

I am assured that Winchester Mayfest will take place in May 2017. It is good to see it back again, and I will be there!

As far as I know, this festival took place in 2009, but then ceased, with no festival in 2010 or 2011. There was talk that a festival was planned for 2012, but I do not know if any further festivals took place until now.

The following is a description of the festival as it was up to 2009.

Around the middle of May. This festival has changed a bit over the last few years but certain things remain constant. Despite the change of name many of the traditions of Winchester Folk Festival have been retained. It has consistently been Hampshire's best festival for morris, and in the county town. Most takes place on the Saturday making it an excellent day trip. There is a morris procession, dancing all afternoon at Cathedral Close right in front of the cathedral. The free afternoon concert in St. Lawrence's church (donations requested) has varied considerably from year to year, some years having some excellent local folk bands, some years some top names, (Waterson and Carthy were there recently), but in 2008 it was rather meagre. Sessions - the best is in the Eclipse Inn sometimes overflowing outside, and there's another in a covered outdoor area at the Bakers Arms. The Saturday night ceili is located in the magnificent King Alfred Hall of the Guildhall, a listed building. A concert is held in the same building as an alternative at the same time. Some years a single ticket covers both events, other years they have been separate.

Click for pictures. Click for link to video

Click for pictures and link to video.

 

Chippenham Folk Festival

Chippenham Folk Festival logo

Around the end of May on the bank holiday weekend. A major folk festival, long-established and lasting a day longer than most due to the bank holiday. Pleasant riverside venue. The festival has a strong emphasis on English folk music, rather than Irish, Scottish or International. There is a distinctive open-air ceili in the pedestrian precinct, and there have sometimes been some excellent workshops specialising in English instrumental music. Good pub sessions.

Accomodation is a problem. The official camp site was open only to full ticket holders, and crowded as is common with festival camp sites. Alternative independent camp sites a long way away.

www.chippfolk.co.uk

 

Wessex Folk Festival - Weymouth

(Formerly Weymouth Folk Festival)

Hobos Morris at Weymouth Folk Festival

Early in June. A relatively new folk festival, the first being in 2002. It has now moved to the part of the town south of the river around Hope Square. Plenty of free live music all Saturday and Sunday through to early evening on the main festival stage there. Workshops. Morris. Various themed sessions. Evening concerts with big names.

www.wessexfolk.co.uk

 

Wimborne Folk Festival

Brian Bisp

This festival continued for many years up to, and including 2012, but later that year the festival site www.wimbornefolkfestival.co.uk announced the following:

The End of Wimborne Folk Festival
(dated 19/08/2012)

Fortunately, other organizers have managed to revive a new festival, associated with Wimborne Minster, who also previously had an event on the festival weekend. The new festival will be called Wimborne Minster Folk Festival. See below.

The following is based on the original Wimborne Festival as existed up until 2012. There are indications that the new festival will be similar.

Around the beginning of June. An excellent two day festival starting on the Friday evening and largely finishing at the end of Sunday afternoon. Traditionally Wimborne Festival has been characterised by its huge attendance of Morris dance sides with morris dancing everywhere you go, and a correspondingly large procession. Most of the town is closed to traffic which makes it a much more pleasant environment.

Lots of live folk music in several pubs, largely outside in their beer gardens. There are now two sessions at lunchtimes and evenings. The English music session is at the British Legion club, and there is an Irish session at the Conservative club. There are a number of workshops which are currently free.

There is a major concert and a Saturday night ceili both of which get some top names, the venue of the ceili being in a large school some way from the town. There is also a large marquee at the cricket ground featuring some of the best local bands and admission is either free or very low cost.

The picture shows Brian Bisp who was for many years the organiser of the festival's street dancing.

Click for pictures. Click for link to video

Click for pictures and link to video.

Wimborne Minster Folk Festival.

The reincarnation of Wimborne Festival starting from 2013. Long may it continue!

www.wimbornefolk.co.uk

 

Forest Folk Song and Ale

A weekend event held around the end of June and organized by the Forest Folk Club. Located at North Boarhunt Social Club, Trampers Lane, North Boarhunt, near Wickham, where the folk club meets. Simple camping is available at low cost on a sports field nearby.

The format is rather like a folk club, but taking place throughout the weekend. Separate events for singarounds and instrumental sessions taking place at different times.

There is a bar and food available.

As they have a web site, they can tell the rest.

Forest Folk web site: www.forestfolk.co.uk

 

Christchurch Festival

Around the first weekend of July. Pleasant open-air waterside setting. Enclosed arena with small admission charge. A variety of musical styles. Craft stalls etc. Session in a nearby pub.

www.christchurchfestival.co.uk

 

Beggar's Fair - Romsey

Around the beginning of July. Mainly a one-day event on a Saturday with live music and dance displays, but with some events on the Friday evening. It has evolved and expanded quite a lot over the last 5 years or so. Previously it mostly consisted of an open air concert from the back of a lorry in the town centre. That is still a major feature, but there are now many more events around the town, much of it acoustic in pleasant garden settings. Also many pubs now participate with live music and sessions. There is a wide variety of musical styles which are not exclusively folk ranging from classical and european instrumental dance music, through to the more powerful rock and blues. A little morris dancing. The ads and programme proudly boast that all events are free!

Click for pictures. Click for link to video

Click for pictures and link to videos.

www.beggars-fair.org.uk

www.myspace.com/beggarsfair

 

Trowbridge Village Pump Festival

Around the second half of July, school holiday time. Away from the town set in a large area of fields. Much of this is used for the spacious camp site and car park. The arena is entirely closed and, unless you buy a full day ticket or more, you can't get in, leaving absolutely nothing. No street dancing, no freedom to wander round trader's stalls, and no food or catering outside the arena. It is not possible to pay separately for individual events. I thought it was too expensive, too inflexible.

 

Cambridge Folk Festival

Around the second half of July. Another all-or-nothing festival. Held at a venue in Cherry Hinton. Apparently nothing going on in Cambridge itself. In 2001 it was fully sold out weeks before it began and this is probably typical every year.

 

Sidmouth Folk Festival

The 50th festival took place in 2004, but it looked as it it would end there due to sponsorship difficulties. The management company Mrs Casey's Music have withdrawn. Fortunately many enthusiasts have made a big effort to keep it going, albeit at a slightly reduced level, and is now called Sidmouth Folk Week.

Sidmouth Folk Week

Around the beginning of August. The successor to Sidmouth International Festival (above).

Despite difficulties, a great many of the usual features of the past festivals have been retained; the free ceilis and concerts at the Anchor Garden, almost endless sessions at the Radway and Bedford Hotel, activities and busking along the sea front, concerts and traders at the Ham, marquees at Blackmore Gardens in the town and at Bulverton up the hill, both featuring ceilis. There is still a festival camp site.

The main omission is that the large open air arena is not there. This area was previously used for concerts and a large area with traders stalls.

Click for pictures. Click for link to video

Click for pictures and link to videos.

www.sidmouthfolkweek.co.uk

 

Dartmoor Folk Festival

Usually follows immediately after Sidmouth. A long way to travel for some, but if you're already at Sidmouth, or going to the west country, it's well worth a visit. Held in the picturesque village of South Zeal it has a lovely rural atmosphere, slightly quaint and amateur, but no worse for that, and seemingly populated by really dedicated festival goers. There were some good dances and concerts, not too expensive. Everything is within walking distance so you can forget about driving for a day or two.

Most events take place in the large grassy festival arena equipped with a large marquee for music and dance, and another for traders. There is an admission charge to the arena during the day on both Saturday and Sunday, but this gives access to many events throughout the day. (3 per day in 2005). Saturday features a dance competition maintaining an old local tradition.

The Saturday night ceili is usually excellent featuring a top band and very reasonable admission charge. For example in 2001 it was the English Country Dance Band, in 2003 Token Women, and in 2004 All Blacked Up.

Sunday afternoon is a mix of various acts including morris displays.

On Sunday evening there is a variety concert called the Music Hall with shorter performances by most of the various acts present at the festival. This is great enterainment with an emphasis on folk music, both singing and instrumental, but with some hilarious modern comedy too. It offers a chance to see short performances by several of the major performers present at the festival, and is very good value.

Some sessions in the two village pubs with the Kings Arms being the preferred one for instrumentalists. Some of these are organised sessions with an admission charge.

Official festival camping is only available to season ticket holders. The pub has a field available for camping, though facilities are meagre. There are independent camp sites in the area including one within walking distance.

Click for pictures. Click for link to video

Click for pictures and link to videos.

www.dartmoorfolkfestival.org.uk

 

Wickham Festival

Near the beginning of August. This festival mainly consists of several big concerts with top names on the folk scene. I have never seen a ceili advertised. There is now a lot of excellent morris in Wickham Square and this is a good location because there is little through traffic. I regard Saturday as the principal day for the morris, and it takes place from late morning through to mid afternoon. In 2014 there was also morris scheduled for Sunday too.

In the past this festival was on around the same date as Sidmouth but in 2014 the festival began on 14th August, about a full week after the end of Sidmouth, but I see that it is again on an earlier date in 2015.

Some years ago this was Eastleigh Festival, then moved to Wickham but for 2008 and 2009 moved to Stokes Bay. Now in 2010 and 2011 it is back in Wickham. This really is a movable feast! In 2011 it is towards the end of Sidmouth folk week, overlapping slightly.

Sompting village morris at Wickham Square

www.wickhamfestival.co.uk

 

Wareham Music Festival

At the time of writing, 2014 their web site says it has been brought forward from the August Bank Holiday and moved to August 8th, 9th and 10th. A small festival which emerged around 2009 with mixed music styles with the folk part being on Saturday afternoon and centred around the quay.

www.wareham-music.org.uk

 

Southsea Folk Festival

East of Ealiing at Southsea

Now discontinued. The following describes the festival as it was.

Held during the bank holiday weekend around the end of August. The first was in 2001. It is held on South Parade Pier with a good indoor stage area. One of the three days is dedicated to blues. The usual formula is to have a continual succession of live bands in the afternoons, mostly local, and all free. Some festival approved buskers around the pier, otherwise little takes place outdoors. Evening concerts with famous names have an admission charge. There is sometimes a pub session or other musical performance in the Florence Arms in Florence Road nearby.

Click for pictures. Click for link to video

Click for pictures and link to videos.

www.southseafolkfestival.co.uk

 

Swanage Folk Festival

Swanage Festival morris sides

Early September, usually the second weekend.

This festival has it all and is one of the best on the south coast. There is a huge presence of morris with sides from all over the south and beyond and at least three big morris events as well as the continuous dancing along the pedestrianised sea front. It is clear that the morris sides enjoy the festival and many attend every year.

There's a large grassy arena on a hill right on the sea front with marquees and traders' stalls, and the festival has lots of free music most of the time during the day. The main event is a concert on Saturday night with a big name supported by mostly local performers. There's also a good ceili on the Saturday night.

There is live music in a number of pubs in the evenings and a number of good pub sessions. The English session is held on the Saturday night in the Crows Nest not far from the main arena on the main road from the sea front towards Studland direction. Other pubs to look for sessions are the White Swan and the Red Lion both of which often have sessions in the daytime as well as evening.

On Sunday morning there is an excellent display of Morris at St. Mary's Church. Many morris sides perform in turn, and it is a perfect location especially so because it is free from intrusive noise. Morris is not just visual, the music is important too! See the Swanage pictures page (link below), and now there is a new video taken here.

Swanage is a wonderful location and this is a really friendly and enjoyable festival. It seems to get better every year.


Click for pictures. Click for link to video

Click for pictures and link to videos.

www.swanagefolkfestival.co.uk

 

Salisbury Folk Festival

This festival seems to have been discontinued but the web site is still there.

www.salisburyfolk.co.uk

 


 

Frequent Events (folk clubs etc)

Regular folk clubs and other live music events in Portsmouth.

For information about folk clubs over a wider area see the local links below.

Broadside Folk Club

Broadside Christmas Party last year. Video available!

Broadside Christmas Party last year. Video available!

Long-established folk club of well over 20 years in a traditional function room with an open fire. A varied mixture of singer-guitarists, traditional unaccompanied singing, and instrumental music. All acoustic.

Every Wednesday at the Old House at Home, Locksway Road, Portsmouth.

Donation requested.

Click for MP3 sound clip

Sound clip from Broadside Folk Club.

Click for videos

Videos from Broadside Folk Club.

Web site: www.broadside-folk-club.co.uk


Links (local)

SCoFF the Southern Counties Folk Federation. Links to Folk on Tap magazine and lots more.

Folk Association of South Hants Links to Solent Waves newsletter and folk club diary.

Visit Portsmouth site 'Whats On' page of general tourist info for Portsmouth.

Hantsweb General tourist info for Hampshire with links to 'Whats On'.

Dorset General tourist info with links to folk events.

Sussex Brighton based 'Whats On' information, including folk events.

Other Links

Folk and Roots Festival List Newly added link to replace the festival list previously published by fRoots magazine.

Webfeet An excellent site for folk dance.

NEFFA Based in New England USA, but this is a list of international folk dance sites classified by country or style.


Please see also the main contents page of this site for the major performers of English folk music, Morris, and a search facility for this site and for traditional tunes. Click the logo at the top of this page.


Web site owners, please put a link to this page. It is:

www.english-music.co.uk

The direct address of this page is www.english-music.co.uk/south


This web site is written and maintained by S. J. Farthing, Portsmouth, England. Contact details on main contents page.