Chance to dance by the seaside at Sidmouth FolkWeek

PUBLISHED: 07:00 21 July 2018 | UPDATED: 09:19 23 July 2018

Fairport Convention

Fairport Convention


Sidmouth FolkWeek was recognised last year for its cultural contribution to the South West, and the next one starts soon.

Eliza Carthy and the Wayward BandEliza Carthy and the Wayward Band

Sidmouth FolkWeek has been a major player in the UK festival calendar since 1955, when the English Folk Dance and Song Society declared the East Devon town: ‘an ideal place for a seaside holiday with dancing’.

Held in the first week of August every year, the festival was last year awarded a Blue Plaque in recognition of its cultural contribution to the South West region, and now attracts tens of thousands of visitors to more than 700 diverse events with its broad, ‘something for everyone,’ appeal.

The centrepiece for concerts at the festival is The Ham Marquee, situated close to Port Royal at the eastern end of The Esplanade.

The Ham Marquee provides a comfortable seated-venue for three first class concerts each day – lunchtime, afternoon and evening.

Karine Polwart.Karine Polwart.

This year, concert-goers can look forward to performances by BBC Radio Folk Awards ‘Folk Singer Of The Year’ Karine Polwart, legendary folk-rockers Fairport Convention, iconic Liverpool poet Roger McGough, London’s exciting and barrier-breaking Stick In The Wheel, mesmerising Irish singer Cara Dillon and Devon’s own, ever-popular Show Of Hands.

For those seeking a big night out, The Bulverton Marquee is a standing venue that offers high energy evening roots shows and dance parties in an upbeat hub of activity each night from 7pm through ‘til the early hours.

Eliza Carthy and her extraordinary Wayward Band proved a sensation during the BBC’s recently televised The Big Weekend, and their Bulverton show is anticipated to be one of the week’s most energetic highlights!

By contrast, The Manor Pavilion is a traditional theatre which provides an ideal venue for musical shows and two very special literary events with authors Billy Bragg and Peggy Seeger.

Cara Dillon.Cara Dillon.

The Cellar Bar at Kennaway House offers a diverse programme of folk music from around the world with exciting Greek fusion band Plastikes Karekles, Senegalese kora master Diabel Cissokho and Welsh 12-string guitar virtuoso Toby Hay, while The Woodlands Hotel becomes home to some of the UK and Ireland’s most-revered traditional performers including The Rowsome Family, Hector Riddell and Gemma Khawaja.

Blackmore Gardens is the heart of the Children’s Festival, where three marquees house workshops for children throughout the day and the lovely, open garden offers a colourful and welcoming space for families to meet up, spread out a picnic blanket, enjoy the Garden Stage shows and soak up the wonderfully relaxed atmosphere.

Visitors can participate in music-making, singing, dancing and arts and crafts activities.

Festival event tickets are available both individually in a variety of money-saving packages.

An All-In-One gives you access to all events and workshops for the whole festival, including Ham Concert Marquee evening concerts at a considerable discount.

You can also get to the two pre-festival concerts at seriously reduced prices. Week, Weekend and Day season tickets give access to all events except the Ham Marquee Evening concerts for the period of your ticket.

Season tickets give considerable discounts for Ham Marquee Evening concerts. Volunteering offers a great way to come to the festival on your own, and get to know people and immerse yourself in the atmosphere without having to buy a ticket.

A spokesman for the event said: “A visit to Sidmouth during the first week of August is a joyous experience that many repeat year after year.

“The town really comes alive during FolkWeek as the streets and venues burst with festive atmosphere and colour, and holidaymakers and festival goers join together in the friendliest music-based holiday of the summer.

“Britain’s oldest festival has itself become the stuff of folklore, yet it continues to influence musical trends and capture the hearts of all who visit.

The event runs from Friday, August 3 to Friday, August 10. For more details and event tickets, visit

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