The 2011 Ely Folk Festival Has It All

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By elypeople | Wednesday, June 22, 2011, 13:26

If you haven't already got yourself a ticket for the 2011 Ely Folk Festival, you're going to be hard pushed to find a way to get into what is fast becoming one of the hottest weekenders in the live music calendar.

Now in its 26th year, the Ely Folk Festival is currently staged at the Ely Outdoor Centre. It will be running from July 8-10, packed with great live attractions that showcase the wide variety of musical styles that can be heard on the modern folk music scene. But it's not just the bands that make this gem of a festival such a draw. It is the friendly atmosphere and the delightful setting that have turned this event into such a fun weekend for the whole family, along with its have-a-go music stance and its dance workshops. It has even featured in the The Sunday Times list of Top 100 Festivals for the last three years.

This success hasn't come overnight though, as the legend of this annual event has been years in the making. "Ely Folk Festival started back in 1985 when it was known as Ely Folk Day," says Fionnuala Lennon, the festival's Marketing Manager. "It was the brainchild of Sue and Gerry Rees who had moved to the city in the early 1980s and wanted to promote folk music and dance. Sue and Gerry organised the festival from 1985 until 1993, when they moved to Northern Ireland. After that the festival has been organised each year by a band of local volunteers who are interested in keeping music live."

From its humble origins at the Cutter Inn, each Ely Folk Festival has topped the previous one. The event moved from pubs and clubs to its first outdoor staging in 1991, when it relocated to the area now known as Pocket Park. There it remained until 2000, when circumstances forced the move of its annual home to the Ely Outdoor Centre. This year the festival's strong line-up, including Men They Couldn't Hang and Boo Hewerdine, has meant that the tickets have long since sold out.

"We've got a great selection of the best of English, Scottish and Irish folk music as well as a smattering of Americana and Blues," says Fionnuala. "Being from across the water myself, I'm personally looking forward to hearing Dervish, who are probably the best Irish music band around at the moment. I'll also be queuing up to see Little Johnny England for their sheer musical panache, Rory McLeod for his rather wonderful musical stories, and Malingerers for their warped sense of humour and great dress sense! We've also got 15 of the best morris dancing sides in the country coming to take part in the Saturday morning procession around Ely and this has to be seen to be believed."

The Ely Folk Festival may be a great musical experience but above all it is about fun – and if the sun is shining, the fun is even better. "People come to see some of the best folk acts around in a relaxed, chilled-out, family friendly environment," says Fionnula. "I think it's those key ingredients that make it such special event. You can take in a choice of concerts, take part in a workshop with a well known musician, listen to a music session in our real ale tent, shake your booty at one of our great ceilidhs, or simply chill out on the grass with a cool drink while watching your kids having a great time on Jan's Van. People come back year after year to the Ely Festival because it's got an incredibly friendly vibe."

This year's festival is from July 8–10, 2011 but tickets are now sold out – however, you can catch a little of the spectacle of the festival by watching the morris dancing parade in Ely city centre on the Saturday morning of the festival weekend.



  • Profile image for davealsop

    I've got my ticket - let's hope for good weather and lots of real ale.

    By davealsop at 18:37 on 24/06/11

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