The Sidmouth Folk Festival is preparing to burst into action for the 69th time in 2023, bringing an irresistible feast of world-class folk music, song and dance to the Devon seaside.
A rousing stalwart of the folk calendar, and a highlight of the West Country’s cultural agenda, the annual week-long celebration – this time running from August 4-11 – attracts tens of thousands of music lovers and makers to the elegant Regency resort.
Building on 2022’s return to a more familiar in-person event, the festival’s unique magic will once again permeate virtually every nook and cranny of the town, from the seafront and shopping streets to venues large and small. It promises a blend of friendly, summer holiday atmosphere with top class entertainment, fun-fuelled activities, lashings of party spirit and a myriad of opportunities to roll up your sleeves and join in.
As is customary, Sidmouth’s exciting and eclectic programme will offer something for all ages – from the diehard traditional folk fan to the curious first-timer, those who like to watch and those who love to participate.
Take your pick from the major concerts, lively late-night roots parties, intimate sessions, ceilidhs and folk dancing, storytelling, family entertainment and youth-centred sessions, hands-on workshops and spectacular dance displays, the best in South West crafts, and the tastiest local food and drink.
A passionate champion of great talent – past, present and future – the forward-thinking festival, founded in 1955, is a place where the love of tradition and creativity is passed on from generation to generation.
Rising stars of tomorrow will meet long established names of the folk world, via an explosion of performances by artists from near and far. First names announced for the main concert stage at The Ham include The Unthanks, with their transcendent sibling harmonies, Quebecois livewires Le Vent du Nord, festival patrons and Devon folk icons Show Of Hands, life-affirming folk songs for today from The Young’uns, Breabach, one of Scotland’s most skilled and imaginative contemporary folk acts, McCusker McGoldrick Doyle, masters of flute, fiddle, song and guitar, and the uniquely captivating harmonies of Lady Maisery.
Also gracing the stage will be Saltlines (Gigspanner Big Band with The Salt Path author Raynor Winn), Leveret, The Magpie Arc, John Tams, A Tribute to Paul Sartin, Topette!! and Banter. Cutting edge acts include Angeline Morrison, who uses her vital, tender voice to explore black British experience in folk song, and the exhilarating alternative sounds of Dominie Hooper.
The ever-popular pre-festival Ham shows for 2023 feature Scottish queen of song Barbara Dickson, with Nick Holland (Friday, August 3, 3pm matinee) and a welcome return from Cornish shanty maestros The Fisherman’s Friends (Thursday, August 3, 7.30pm).
The Bulverton, known as the high energy hub for dynamic evening roots shows, eating, drinking and after-hours fun will host Scottish crowd-pleasers Talisk, Tiree’s award-winning band Skerryvore, local singer, songwriter and fiddle maestro Seth Lakeman, Blackbeard’s Tea Party and the high-octane Peat & Diesel. And new musical worlds will be explored on smaller festival stages with inventive tradition ground-breakers like Cerys Hafana, Suntou Susso and many more.
Festival goers can expect to find the very best Sidmouth quality assurance stamp in each area of the festival, from colourful dance displays to dynamic ceilidhs and folk dances, storytelling and poetry events, the dedicated Children’s Festival on the Peacock Lawn, Shooting Roots youth sessions for 12- to 17-year-olds, and a huge range of workshops to get immersed in.
A wide selection of ticket options to suit different budgets are now available via the festival website. Along with many other festivals throughout the country, the Sidmouth team has faced challenging financial decisions in order to stage this much-loved, internationally-renowned event this year.
Festival director John Braithwaite explained: “With prices rising universally again this year and our infrastructure and other costs soaring way past inflation, we have introduced payment plans to make things more manageable for our loyal patrons, who can now split their purchases into three interest free payments to spread the load.”
There are also discounts for festival goers under 25 and for groups purchasing together, and day tickets will be on sale in the new year.
“We hope to provide options to suit different budgets”, added John. “But All In One season tickets remain the best option for those that want the flexibility to enjoy the festival to the fullest.”
Check out sidmouthfolkfestival.co.uk for tickets and more details of the 2023 programme.