The Leigh Folk Festival returns for its 30th anniversary

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The Leigh Folk Festival returns for its 30th anniversary in style with a lineup of free entertainment and a series of nightly ticketed events.

Taking place within the walls of Leigh’s Library Gardens, under the ship-hull domes of the 600-year-old St. Clement’s Church and a host of nearby venues from June 23-26, the folk festival de Leigh will immerse the city in sound, dance, comedy, spoken word, workshops and entertainment for all ages.

Over 125 free performances on ten stages and venues are at the heart of the festival, along with a special series of intimate evening concerts with tickets now available.

Mercury Prize nominee Eliza Carthy is among those who will perform on the Rockamilly main stage in the gardens with Saul Rose and David Delarr.

A brand new acoustic stage featuring a host of local talent will also be showcased within the walls of Library Gardens. Next will be traditional
and alternative dance sides, creative workshops and activities for all, a dedicated kids and family space awash in color, complemented by an independent makers and street food market featuring a mix of cuisine, ice cream and craft beers and traditional cocktails.

Elliott Waters, Festival Director, said: “Leigh Folk Arts is delighted to celebrate this historic anniversary with the Leigh Folk Festival this year. After a two-year hiatus, during which the charity hosted the hugely successful Front Room Folk Festival and The Garden Gatherings, we couldn’t be happier to be back with our eclectic lineup of music, comedy, poetry, dance, storytelling, workshops, for children
activities, concerts and open-mic events.

St Clement’s Church will be offering free atmospheric open-mic poetry by candlelight on Thursday June 23 for any writer wishing to share, and storytelling events on Friday the 24th with Kate Corkey and Saturday morning June 25 with Shane Ibbs for families .

An Open Mic competition open to all takes place on Saturday afternoon, entries must be pre-booked using www.leighfolkfestival.com

On Sunday the church will be filled with the sounds of the London Bulgarian Choir, backed by the Mudlarks vs the Feel-Good Choir, taking you into a
journey of the voice and creative traditions of the country under its stained glass case.

Back in the gardens, three stages throughout the weekend will include performances by No Good Woman & the Kingsnakes, Green Diesel, The Famous Potatoes, who will lead a family ceilidh, The Plan, The Thameside Mummers, Umbrella Factory, Emerald Hill, Levent- Taylor World Band, The Long Run, In Earnest, Ray Miso Trio, Pick Yer Feet Up, Sam Fraser, Caitlin King.

Elsewhere, a host of free programs of music, dance, workshops and entertainment fill the weekend.

Photo: Gaz de Vere

On Saturday, Southend’s indie label So Slam Records will take over the Leigh Community Center with a live podcast recording with Sheila Lord, and BBC Introducing in Essex will take over showcasing the best unsigned, undiscovered and under-the-radar talent of Essex on Sunday.

Additionally, Leigh Community Center will host a series of free workshops to learn the art of model making by world-renowned film company Aardman Animations, the team behind Wallace & Gromit, Shaun the Sheep and Chicken Run.

The free fun session is suitable for all ages and abilities and takes place on Saturday June 25 (reservation required, opening early June).

The ever-popular “Buskers Square” returns to the Broadway Pub on Saturdays, with The Pink Flamingo curating the venue on Sunday, June 26, and Café Hogart Del Mar hosting a solo session.

Meanwhile, the quiet Fishermen’s Chapel will be filled with music on Saturday and Sunday with guest curators Culture is a Dare and MG Boulter. Performances include Blind River Scare, Elaine Palmer, Harriet Bradshaw, Lean with the Breeze, Rev Simpkins & the Phantom Notes, Haress, Simon Finn and more.

Following the success of the Leigh Folk Arts Garden Gatherings in September 2021, outdoor comedy is also back, hosted by Little Smash Comedy. Ahead of the Edinburgh Fringe, a paid intimate comedy night in the park takes place on Friday June 24, hosting a cast of side-dividing talent including Chortle Student Comic of the Year winner Nathan Caton; Robert White,
Britain’s Got Talent finalist; Laura Symth, winner of Funny Women of the Year; Dinesh Nathan, named a “person to watch” by the Fringe Review; and hosted by official tour support for Russell Kane, Ross McGrane, with many more to be announced. Tickets from £15.

A special lineup of paid intimate evening concerts is now on sale at St Clement’s Church and the Leigh Community Centre.

These events help the arts charity generate funds to program free events and stages at the Leigh Folk Festival site, while attracting more internationally renowned artists than ever before.
Thursday, June 23,Leigh Community Centre, tickets £15.

An intimate candlelit set by Ivor Novello Award-winning singer/songwriter Scott Matthews will headline the opening night. After touring with Robert Plant, he will be joined by The Magic Lantern – the musical nickname of singer-songwriter Jamie Doe and backed by BBC Performing Arts Fellowship graduate Maz O’Connor.
Friday 24 June, Leigh Community Centre, tickets £16.50

Americana fans gear up for Friday as Danny George Wilson hits the headlines with his 5-piece band, joined by Pennsylvania folk rock duo Native Harrow and Yorkshire’s Serious Sam Barrett.

Saturday 25 June, Church of St Clement, tickets £18

The all-girl contemporary alternative folk trio, Wildwood Kin, headlined. Support comes from Ellie Gowers.
Leigh Community Centre, tickets £16.50

Award-winning Australian singer-songwriter Emily Barker (best known as the author and performer of the BBC theme song Wallander) takes the stage, working with producer, multi-instrumentalist and composer Lukas Drinkwater. Special guests Trials of Cato recently performed live on Mark Radcliffe’s BBC Radio 2 Folk Show.

Sunday 26 June, Church of St Clement, tickets £18.50

RTE’s 2021 Folk Awards 2021 Top Singer and Top Emerging Artist, John Francis Flynn, will headline St Clements on Sunday’s closing night. A founding member of the famous traditional band Skipper’s Alley, he has been described as the leader of the revival of Irish folk music.

Leigh Community Centre, tickets £16

The winners of Glastonbury’s 2011 Emerging Talent Competition, the Treetop Flyers, bring their mix of classic British rock ‘n’ roll, Celtic soul and country blues to the Leigh Folk Festival for one of two closing nights. The six-piece London band will be joined by unique electro blues band Funke & The Two Tone Baby.

Additional support comes from Welsh multi-instrumentalist, Gwenifer Raymond.

All information and tickets are available from www.leighfolkfestival.com

Photo: Jacques Feeney


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