Town to play host to 5,000 folk music fans

Whitby will play host to more than 600 separate events when Whitby Folk Week returns to the town for the 48th time tomorrow.

The long-standing annual festival which takes place at venues across town including Whitby Pavilion, The Met and the Coliseum and the intimate setting of Whitby’s pubs, will run until next Friday.

Morris dancers take part in the annual Whitby Folk Week parade last year.

Morris dancers take part in the annual Whitby Folk Week parade last year.

Festival director Barry Evans said more than 5,000 people are expected to attend the festival, which attracts talent from all over the UK, mainland Europe, America and Australia.

This year there will be a total of 621 different events including concerts, shows and workshops for people to enjoy.

He said: “Whitby is seen as a value for money festival and rising costs of other festivals are working for the benefit of Whitby.

“The numbers of people coming to Whitby Folk Week does surprise me.

“It keeps growing. Whitby is an ideal place for a festival, lt lends itself to it easily.”

The start and the end of the festival sees two parades through town - the first will take place tomorrow afternoon at 4.15pm when it will leave the Middle Earth pub in Church Street and travel along to the bandstand in Pier Road, where dance displays will take place.

The second will be the Whitby Festival Garland Parade which will leave Crescent Gardens on the West Cliff at 4.30pm, making its way to the bandstand, where dance displays will take place.

A big start to the week is a concert tomorrow night at Whitby Pavilion featuring The Pitmen Poets (Bob Fox, Jez Lowe, Benny Graham, Billy Mitchell) while Bob will be interviewed on Sunday morning about his role as Song man in the acclaimed West End show, Warhorse

Whitby Folk Week has the most comprehensive list of workshops of any festival in the UK giving people the chance to to sing harmony, play tin whistle, melodeon, Guitar, write songs or poet, hone their circus skills or maintain their instruments, there is workshop for them.

One of the instruments now becoming extremely popular is the Ukulele, and there will be a a number of workshops at the festival for people to learn how to play this small instrument.

To celebrate the life of the late Graeme Miles, a concert of his songs will take place featuring his own group the Ironopolis Singers, the Martyn Wyndham Read, Iris Bishop and the Wilsons who have just completed recording an album with Sting.

Another large part of the festival is its ceilidhs and this year they will have a Harry Potter theme.

Folk week has grown to be the largest event in the UK for storytellers and this year, storyteller laureate Taffy Thomas along with many others including Ursula Holden-Gill, Patrick Ryan and Bob Pegg will be spinning yarns.

As usual many events will take place purely for children and three will also be events purely for younger singers and musicians.

Other highlights include a performance from concertina player Alistair Anderson, and a gig from the Hut people whose members include Gary Hammond, a percussionist with The Beautiful South.

The Folk week festival office will be based in the community room at Whitby Leisure Centre while a craft fair will be held in the main sports hall.

Turn to What’s On page 40 for more on Whitby Folk Week.