Local and young are the watchwords at this year’s Todmorden Folk Festival which starts today (April 28) and runs over the weekend in churches, halls, pubs, restaurants, Centre Vale Park and the town market.
Dance teams like Oakenhoof Cloggers from Littleborough, who comprise all ages, from eight years upwards, will be celebrating the International Day of Dance and half of the bands taking part this year are entirely made up of performers who are under 30.
Eight bands have an age range of 13-21, which challenges the traditional view of folk music as the domain of bearded middle aged men with a pint in their hand!
“We have broken the mould,” says organiser Lynne Midwinter.
Young musicians from Todmorden are well represented with all three finalists in the town’s Battle of the Bands competition playing at venues during the weekend.
The winner of the competition, Magdalen Bath, is opening the headline concert on Saturday night at the Unitarian Church before Folk Award winners Lady Maisery take to the stage.
The festival is also excited to announce that three of its performers won Radio 2 Folk Awards earlier this month.
Todmorden Folk festival is a family affair – the cost of attending has been kept as low as possible and there are more events for children than ever before, the majority of which are free.
There will be an emphasis on local throughout the weekend, so the beer served at the main venues is supplied by Little Valley Brewery and the food at the concerts and in the festival café features great local produce like the special Scrumpy Jack Cider Sausage designed and made by Nick Fielden, butcher on Todmorden market.
The festival café will also be selling its Ploughmans platters featuring the town’s Pextenement cheeses.
Two performances have been written specially for the festival. Stand To! is a live retrospective on the events of WW1 and combines the stories and narrative of the trenches with folk songs in a moving and heartfelt tribute to those who gave their lives for their country 100 years ago.
The second is Folklore Explore, an interactive adventure by In the Park Productions which is based in Centre Vale Park where visitors and their children can trace the local witch with stories and music along the way. Both of these are on Saturday, April 29.
A 32 page programme with every event and full weekend tickets are available from Todmorden Tourist Information Centre and shops around town.
Alternatively you can go online to www.todfolkfest.co.uk