Folk Festivals in England

There are more folk festivals in England than there are in the rest of the United Kingdom. They tend to be a combination of music, dance and storytelling. They tend to be smaller in size than the rock festivals with each county having its very own festivals that celebrates the traditions of that particular area. England’s biggest free festival is the Leigh Folk Festival in Essex which is held over 4 days at the end of June. This was started in 1992 with Leigh offering a wide range of indoor and out-door public venues. Despite the growing popularity of the festival the organising committee has kept the event virtually free. There are one or two musical shows where tickets need to be purchased but the intention is to make the festival available to all. The success of the festival in this part of the Thames Delta is not surprising as traditional genres of music have always flourished in this part of the country. As well as folk music, there are dance displays, storytelling, busking and art plus many more entertainments for the ever-expanding number of attendees to enjoy. One of the longest running folk festivals is the Cornwall Folk Festival which is held each year in Wadebridge for 5 days in August. The beauty of this festival is that Cornwall has a rich tradition of folk and Celtic music. Musicians from all over the world attend with nearly all of the venues being under cover. There is much sharing of music with there being workshops for singers and instruments. The festival is naturally fuelled by local Cornish dishes plus Cornish Ales and Ciders

The knights jousting entertains the crowd

England’s Medieval Festival at Herstmonceux Castle in East Sussex is one of a kind. The festival has been running since 1992 and attempts to recreate a medieval experience. It is the largest medieval festival in the country and as soon as people enter the site they are greeted with the smells of medieval times. The music is very old coming from the medieval period and the “minstrels” play a variety of instruments, such as the bagpipes, the flute, the gittern, the harp and percussion. They are various tournaments on show, such as falconry, archery and jousting. There is a siege recreated in the castle grounds, so the crowd can really see what an ancient battle really looked like. The days are ended with a medieval banquet with even vegetarian meals provided. This is a totally authentic festival. The Moseley Folk festival contains a mixture of established folk singers playing alongside unsigned acts. The main draw to the festival is the quality of the music which is a mixture of folk and acoustic music. The festival has been running for 12 years in Moseley Park which is just 2 miles outside the centre of Birmingham. The ground slopes down into a natural amphitheatre in front of the lake where the musicians perform on a temporary stage. This is very much a city festival. There is no accommodation on the grounds and although there are beer tents and food stalls, the facilities are not as extensive as those found at the more rural festivals. However, the quality of the music on offer more than makes up for any other short comings.

The number and variety of folk festivals in England is massive. Some of them are not large gatherings, but the vast majority of them are events with real character.

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