The ‘most ambitious’ Leigh Folk Festival is back to celebrate its 30th anniversary


Traditional dancers – photo by Jacques Feeney

He is back! The Leigh Folk Festival returns this year for its 30th anniversary with the “most ambitious” line-up yet of music, dance, comedy, spoken word and workshops, taking place over four days.

Europe’s biggest free festival kicks off from Thursday June 23 to Sunday June 26 with more than 125 performances on ten stages and locations, as well as a selection of paid intimate concerts.

Mercury Prize nominee Eliza Carthy (MBE) is among those performing on the Rockamilly main stage at Leigh Gardens on Saturday (sponsored by Leigh’s fabulous Rockamilly boutique).

She will lead the Eliza Carthy Trio with Saul Rose and David Delarr.

A new acoustic stage featuring a host of local talent will be showcased within the walls of Library Gardens.

In parallel, traditional alternative dance performances, creative workshops and activities for all, as well as a space dedicated to children and the family, independent manufacturers and a street food market including traditional beer and craft beers.

Elliott Waters, Festival Director, said: “Leigh Folk Arts [the organisation behind the festival] are delighted to celebrate this historic anniversary with 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, children’s activities, concerts and open-mic events.

“This is truly Leigh’s most ambitious folk festival in our 30 years the story.”

St. Clement’s Church will offer a free atmospheric open-mic titled Poetry by Candlelight on Thursday, June 23, with storytelling events on Friday, June 24 and Saturday, June 25 in the morning. An open mic contest is held in the church on Saturday afternoons.

Entries must be pre-booked through

On Sunday, the church will be filled with the sounds of the London Bulgarian Choir, backed by the Mudlarks and the Feel-Good Choir.

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

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

Leigh Community Center will also host a series of free workshops on Saturday, to learn the unique art of model making from world-leading film company Aardman Animations, the team behind Wallace and Gromit, Shaun the Sheep, Morph, Chicken Run. Advance reservation is mandatory.

Buskers Square returns to the Broadway Pub in Leigh on Saturday, with The Pink Flamingo musical event on site on Sunday June 26.

La Chapelle des Pêcheurs will be filled with music on Saturday and Sunday with guest curators Culture As A Dare and MG Boulter. Performances include Blind River Scare, Elaine Palmer, Harriet Bradshaw, Lean with the Breeze, Rev Simpkins and the Phantom Notes, Haress, Simon Finn, Pettaluck, Jason Steel, Diamond Family Archive, Alasdair Robert, Lost Harbours, The Owl Service, Masal , Burd Ellen, Evan Parker and more.

Following the success of the Leigh Folk Arts Garden Gatherings in September 2021, outdoor comedy is also back, organized by Little Smash Comedy, who ahead of the Edinburgh Fringe will host a pay-per-view comedy in the park on Friday 24 June.

Visit to book ticketed events and more information.

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