‘Special Sidmouth’ bids farewell to another folk festival

Sidmouth Folk Festival 2019. Ref shs 32 19TI 2019 9809. Picture: Terry Ife

Sidmouth Folk Festival 2019. Ref shs 32 19TI 2019 9809. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

As the sun prepares to set on Sidmouth Folk Festival for the last time this year, the event’s director said it marks the start of a new era.

John Braithwaite, who has headed up the event for 10 years, said the 2019 event was breaking barriers more than before, from environmental-friendly measures to new emerging artists.

Thousands of visitors have arrived in the town to enjoy a spectacle of music and dance from folk's best musicians between August 2 and August 9.

Throughout the week, workshops, concerts, ceilidhs, children's events, Morris dancing and more have been taking place throughout the town.

Folk music stalwarts Seth Lakeman and The Spooky Men's Chorale took to the stage at the event's main venues joined by up-and-coming artists from around the world.

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Mr Braithwaite said this year had many one-off shows that could only be seen in Sidmouth, including festival patron Steve Knightley's 50 Shades of Sidmouth performance in The Ham.

Mr Braithwaite said this year's event encapsulated 'special Sidmouth' and could not happen anywhere else.

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He said: "We (the festival) are 65, but we've decided not to draw out our pension. We are moving into a new era, we have a new name and a new image. I keep forgetting the number of things we have done breaking barriers this year.

"There are so many things that make me so happy and proud of being involved in Sidmouth. There is the extent of watching established musicians and primarily bringing in new talent and making people stage ready."

In 2018, the festival swapped to reusable bottles for artists, saving the environment from 3,000 single-use discarded ones.

This year that total has multiplied tenfold with the introduction of a new souvenir cup.

The reusable souvenir being sold to visitors replaces 30,000 plastic glasses, which were previously then thrown away.

Mr Braithwaite said: "We will continue that. This isn't the end of the story."

The festival closes on Friday, August 9, with the late night extra ceilidh with Kirkophany at The Bulverton between 11pm and 1.15am.

Barry Goodman will act as caller and there will be performances from Earlsdon Morris Men.

The festival will return from July 31 2020.

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