For its Diamond Year celebrations, Sidmouth Festival once again served up a veritable feast of dance and music to suit all tastes which proved as ever, an impossible challenge for a Festival Reviewer.
Folk Festivals are generally friendly and companionable events and made even more so when the weather is kind. We had some glorious days and with the exception of one heavy deluge which must have been a headache for the campers. Fortunately the following day was dry and sunny and most Festival go-ers should have returned home with a healthy tan despite the hours spent in the various venues and pubs around the town.
The Festival Director, John Braithwaite, The Artistic Director, Alan Bearman, and the rest of the team are to be congratulated in producing a show to compare with any held throughout the land, but with that extra special ingredient, a respect for the continuity of the tradition of Sidmouth which they have inherited.
The published programme is itself worthy of special mention. It is clearly set out with lots of cross references, and information on venues, artists and other important details. Well worth the additional charge. A Folk Festival of this size could not exist without the support of major sponsors and many of the Town traders. Thanks, is due to them all and it is to be hoped that the Festival will continue to be as commercially successful as it is artistically.
In addition to the main marquee in the Ham, Sidmouth is blessed with a number of other venues all conveniently located within the town and catering for official performances. The Bedford Hotel front room is one of these and the front room is usually filled to capacity There are also a large number of other pubs and hotels which open their doors to impromptu music sessions and singarounds throughout the week. These allow old friends and club performers to meet and entertain themselves and the general public.
The Bulverton , area is opposite the campsite and becomes the venue for dance events and late night ceilidh’s. It is situated outside of the town ,but well connected by a shuttle bus service. The Blackmore Gardens are in the town centre and is the heart of music and dance with particular emphasis on entertaining the family. Adjacent is the Marquee housing the vendors of musical instruments and CD’s. The Craft Fair has also been re-located to an adjacent area. The seafront promenade becomes the site for many market traders and is also a popular location for buskers and others happy to sit somewhere and play music or alternatively, dance.
Throughout the Festival, Sidmouth played host to thousands of visitors, bands and other performers. Somehow magically they were all accommodated and the atmosphere generated remained upbeat and friendly. Originally conceived as a Festival of Traditional Dance It has grown into one of the most varied and enjoyable events on the Folk Calendar. It is impossible to mention on a review of this type all the many excellent
concerts and dance activities which are on show over the week. For this 60th Celebration the sun mostly smiled and all those involved from the Committee to the many volunteers, must have returned home happy with their efforts. Roll on next year.
The selected reviews of some of the acts appearing are published on this site here.
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Sidmouth Folk Festival 2017 Review