Sidmouth Folk Festival
(Folk Week)

What is now the Sidmouth Folk Week began in 1955 as the Sidmouth Folk Festival when a group of friends got together to try and promote music and folk dancing in the town during the first week of August.

From those small beginnings it grew into the sizable gathering that it is now. Like an oak tree growing from a small acorn the Sidmouth Folk Festival has grown and spread into an amazing multinational event.

Sidmouth is THE place to listen to all types of music and watch every imaginable kind of folk dancing. And let's face it, from the heart of East Devon what better place could there be to watch it?

In 2005 the folk festival fell victim to new health and safety rules and the need for different forms of insurances so the Sidmouth Folk Festival became the Sidmouth Folk Week and was scaled down considerably to keep it running.

A new team of managers took over and have succeeded to keep event both interesting and attractive to thousands of folk fans from around the world.

Different venues in the town showcase different types of music and dancing. In the video you can see people of all ages enjoying the atmosphere and music. It's especially pleasing to see young people playing instruments and joining in the fun. Everything is very relaxed, a group of musicians will just get together and start to play.

Skip down the page to see what's on in 2012?

Morris dancers Colourful group of girls in eye catching outfits Scottish dancing Green men More morris dancers More girls in yellow and green outfits, this time in a larger group Notice the bells on their legs, you can't miss the sound when they dance Clog dancers Morris dancing on the sea front
Sidmouth Folk Festival Week. Images in this slideshow reproduced under a Creative Commons license with the kind permission of RichardToller, Thagrol and Taz etc. all on Flickr

I like the ceilidhs because of the impromptu nature, you never know who will be playing or what music they will play. Last year I was interested to watch a group of people playing accordions and melodeons in the Radway Inn.

They had a repertoire of various folk tunes that they played through and improvised on and a few people were singing along. Players joined in or dropped out as and when they liked.

Here are some more accordion players, this time on the sea front

Catchy accordion music keeps your feet tapping
Accordion players on the prom. Reproduced under a Creative Commons license with the kind permission of RichardToller on Flickr

Friends of mine who live locally sit on the seafront and play guitars along with some of the many visitors.

The town is transformed into a theatre for a week and there's something to enjoy around every corner. All kinds of workshops allow people of all ages to join in the fun and festivities.

Over the years they've done everything from juggling workshops to learning how to Morris dance and making craft items. Sadly after the big insurance shake up a lot of the craft stalls no longer come but there are still plenty of things to see and do.

Many famous folk groups come to the Sidmouth Folk Festival Week and you can view the line up for each year on the official website. To make it simple to go to the gigs that you're interested in you can buy a season ticket. Depending on which ticket you buy you can go into all or just some of the concerts.

Whether you feel like going to a more formal evening concert or just strolling around the town, looking at the craft stalls and enjoying the buzz there's something for everyone.

Music in Sidmouth All this music is bliss Such a pleasure to play with like minded people
Musicians at the Sidmouth Folk Festival Week Images in this slideshow reproduced under a Creative Commons license with the kind permission of RichardToller, richardrichard and Taz etc. all on Flickr

What's On In 2012?

Workshops for 2012 include 250 separate events over the course of the week. Learn to dance the Flamenco, Breton dancing and Appalachian flat footing. Lots of variety from Eastern Europe and closer to home learn dance sets from Ireland and Wales.

If dance isn't your thing, how about music? Everything from the fiddle to the bodhran (a type of Irish drum). Years ago a friend of mine was learning the bodhran, it's a surprisingly interesting instrument that can give a wonderful variety of sounds. Guitar gigs, accordion arrangements, song sessions, there truly is something for everyone.

Want to watch rather than play? There's lots of dancing in the streets. You can watch dance groups from around the world show off their amazing skills. Traditional and modern folk dancing to amaze and delight.

What about food and drink? There are plenty of places in town where you can buy food for your visit but if you prefer to have someone else do the cooking you'll find plenty of local food on offer in various locations around the town. For real ale fans you'll have plenty of choice from Butcombe, Skinners and Brains breweries and artisan ciders from Bridge Farm.

To book tickets for events, use the online form on the website or by phoning 01395 577952 and having your credit or debit card handy. Download the Taster programme with more information about all the events, concerts and activities that are on offer this year.

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