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Everything you need to know about FolkEast 2019

PUBLISHED: 11:39 15 August 2019 | UPDATED: 11:39 15 August 2019

FolkEast 2018 - jellyfish parade. Photo:John Heald

FolkEast 2018 - jellyfish parade. Photo:John Heald

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FolkEast bringing the best in contemporary folk music to Suffolk this weekend to provide the soundtrack to a wonderful gathering of kindred spirits at Glemham Hall. We take a look at this year's festival that aims to be plastic free

Richard Thompson who is headlining FolkEast 2019 Photo: BBCRichard Thompson who is headlining FolkEast 2019 Photo: BBC

The countdown to one of the country's quirkiest, most friendly and hugely popular music festivals is reaching its final stages.

This weekend sees FolkEast, Britain's most easterly folk festival, set up its tents and stages in the glorious grounds of the 16th century Glemham Hall, the festival's home for the past seven years.

Between August 16-18 festivalgoers will be treated to performances from the starriest line-up to date.

Across seven stages, FolkEast will be bringing together an outstanding line-up of musicians from England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales, spearheaded by the legendary singer songwriter/guitarist Richard Thompson and including Cara Dillon & friends, the Karine Polwart Trio, John Smith, Calan, Sharon Shannon Band, Ross Ainslie, Jarlath Henderson and Ali Hutton, Daphne's Flight, Blair Dunlop and Siobhan Miller.

Sharon Shannon  is one of the headliners of FolkEast 2019 Photo: Folk EastSharon Shannon is one of the headliners of FolkEast 2019 Photo: Folk East

The eclectic collective line-up ranges from national treasures to some of the most exciting new kids on the block; numerous BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards winners and notable overseas acts from Canada (Good Lovelies) and Poland (Brasy). Stages include the 'Sanctuary' stage at St Andrew's Church, the open air Sunset Stage and the hidden woodland solar-powered Soapbox Stage.

Two of the defining emblems of FolkEast are back this year - the infamous mythical Jackalope (half antelope; half jack rabbit) and an arboreal art installation that traditionally marks the start of the countdown to the festival.

The annual dressing of the 65 foot dead oak tree on the Glemham Hall Estate began in 2013. Wrapped in hundreds of metres of vibrant red and yellow cloth it has become a recognised totem visible from the nearby A12 and heralding the imminent start of three days of festival fun.

This year's Jackalope, again constructed by Juan Romero, will be a high-tech one featuring water, lights and fire.

Cara Dillon is one of the headliners of FolkEast 2019 Photo: Matt AustinCara Dillon is one of the headliners of FolkEast 2019 Photo: Matt Austin

Rekindling the ancient Eastfolk moots on the Glemham Hall estate where for three days a year the folk from the East would meet kith and kin at harvest time for "a bit of a do", this gathering has Suffolk running through it like letters in a stick of rock.

Becky Marshall-Potter who co -founded the festival with husband John says: "The tree is dressed, the programme set, tickets are selling briskly and we are almost at the start line again! Our hugely popular patrons The Young'uns unfortunately won't be with us this year as they are busy making waves in America but the festival will still bear their stamp, the main stages having been programmed by The Young'uns Michael Hughes."

And this year there will be a special on-site guest - the amazing Pakefield Man, created by Suffolk sculptor Tobias Ford, and last seen stuffed with straw and set alight at sunset on the beach at Lowestoft's First Light Festival in June.

The steel sculpture was created after worked flints from 700,000 years ago were found on Pakefield Beach.

Karine Polwart is one of the headliners of FolkEast 2019  Photo: Paul HeartfieldKarine Polwart is one of the headliners of FolkEast 2019 Photo: Paul Heartfield

The Marshall-Potters are committed to creating a sustainable festival for Suffolk and to that end are aiming to make this a single use plastic-free event. Says Becky: "From the outset we have strived to be as environmentally sound as we can be.

"This year we are making a concerted effort to do our bit for the planet which means we are asking everyone - crew, artists, public and volunteers - to bring reusable drinking bottles and refill them from the on-site water supply. We have asked the traders not to bring drinks for sale in single use plastic and we are not intending to supply any on site. So please bring your own drinking bottles, tankards and flagons."

Two special events are in the FolkEast 2019 mix. On Saturday head for the Aldeburgh Moot Hall for a concert with a true Suffolk flavour. Aldeburgh Young Musicians will be joined by folk musicians Greg Russell, Cohen Braithwaite-Kilcoyne, and Laura-Beth Salter to perform a new interpretation of Peter Bellamy's 'Maritime England Suite of Sea Songs', described as "songs of the sea from the Saxons to the 19th century".

Former Suffolk resident Bellamy, who lived at Leiston, was a unique singer, musician and composer who tragically took his own life in 1991 at the age of just 47, but left behind a treasure trove of work.

Night falls over the main stage. Picture Gary DonnisonNight falls over the main stage. Picture Gary Donnison

A landmark event on Sunday will see four of the north-east's giants of folk music championing the musical and industrial heritage of their stamping ground. The Pitmen Poets features County Durham's prolific and celebrated singer songwriter Jez Lowe, ex Lindisfarne member Billy Mitchell, renowned singer/instrumentalist Bob Fox and Benny Graham, leading exponent of Tyneside song.

A show that digs deep into the heart of Britain's coalmining tradition, it has been described as "an epic journey through the life and times of people who made a living in Northumberland and Durham's coalfields."

Illustrated by atmospheric archive photography, it mixes storytelling and song, humour and pathos, triumph and tragedy.

When it comes to refreshment, two authentic 'village' pubs will be serving competitively-priced ales (including Suffolk-based Green Jack Brewery's festival ale Green Jackalope) or you can squeeze into possibly the smallest pub in the UK, the 6 x 4' Halfway Inn.

Then there's the FolkEast Art Arcade, Instrumental, bringing together some of the country's top instruments makers, a packed dance programme, poetry, archery, donkey rides, children's activities (including den building, storybook making and a mud kitchen linked together in a special new children's trail) yoga, poetry, storytelling, the Eastfolk Chronicle Kinedrome (showing folk and local interest films) and tours of Glemham Hall by estate owner Major Philip Cobbold.

Advance weekend tickets are available price £120 (adult), £108 (full time students, 65+) and £80 for Youth tickets (12-17 year old) which must be purchased with an adult ticket. Family weekend tickets for two adults and two 12-17 year olds are £365. There is free admission for children aged 11 and under; camping under canvas is £20 and camping on wheels £30.

Tickets at https://folkeast.co.uk/passes More information: info@folkeast.co.uk

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