Preview: Beverley Folk Festival 2016

Over 80 acts are heading to Beverley Racecourse this weekend for Beverley Folk Festival 2016 – an annual celebration of folk music in the glorious East Yorkshire countryside. The three-day event covers much more than folk music though, with world music, Americana, poetry, spoken word, film, folk dance, comedy and plenty more to keep the entire family cock-a-hoop this weekend.


Barnsley’s finest (and a ‘superstar of the British acoustic scene’ – The Guardian) Kate Rusby headlines the festival’s opening night on Friday. With more than 20 albums under her belt and a mantelpiece full of awards, Kate is a mainstay of the folk scene and a real highlight of the festival. Earlier in the day, make sure you catch Sam Carter; named Best Newcomer at the 2010 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, Sam is as much a rock-n-roller as he is a folkie.

Multi-instrumentalist and singer Tim Edey (Musician of the Year at the 2012 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards) brings Celtic influences to Beverley, mixed in with world music and inspired instrumental virtuosity. Gilmore & Roberts, on the other hand, take Friday’s schedule in a much more contemporary direction; alumni of Leeds College of Music, the pair blend trademark harmonies with rich musicianship to create a striking folk/acoustic sound that you definitely shouldn’t miss. You’re in luck though – they play on Saturday too.

If you’re on the look-out for new talent, the Westwood Sessions begin on Friday and run throughout the weekend. This open mic event for under 25s seeks to showcase the biggest folk artists of tomorrow and celebrate young talent. Want to get involved? Email


If you need to let off some steam on Saturday, try out a new show from three of the north’s favourite wordsmiths; Letting Off Steam sees poet and comedian Kate Fox team up with folk musicians Sharon and Helen from Union Jill to create a stand-up poetry show with music, rhythm and lots of laughter. For an even bigger burst of energy, the Grand Old Uke of York bring big vocals and electronic ukuleles (en masse) to cover rock and pop classics in their inimitable uke style on Saturday afternoon.

The day’s biggest names include former Lindisfarne members Billy Mitchell, Ray Laidlaw and their band, who’ll be telling The Lindisfarne Story with two appearances at the festival. Their Saturday evening Main Stage headline slot will see them perform alongside the great and the good of the North East folk scene, with Lindsfarne members joining Jez Lowe and former members of The Animals to play some of the greatest Tyneside hits of the past 40 years.

The North East theme continues with The Young’uns, purveyors of unfathomably gorgeous three-part a capella harmonies. Protest songs sit alongside stories of warmth and wit from this multi-award winning group at the top of their game.


Legends of folk-rock Steeleye Span return to Beverley for the Sunday night headline slot, bringing their huge back catalogue with them. Churchfitters, meanwhile, are a folk band like no other; with a bass guitar made out of a frying pan, funkrock bouzouki and musical saw, they reinvigorate traditional tunes in their own unique style.

Poetry and creative writing are at the heart of Sunday’s programme, with writer Ian Clayton taking a look at our musical memories. As well as reading some of his own work, Ian will be leading a workshop to tease out the stories of everyone in his audience and exploring what our musical histories say about us. Poet Les Barker on the other hand writes ‘strange poems’ (his words) and will be sharing some of these on Sunday afternoon. He used to be an accountant ‘before he became a professional idiot’ (also his words) and is now a mainstay of the British folk scene. Make sure you check out the Sunday Film Club at the festival too, where they’ll be showing The Way of the Morris and The Wicker Man.

If you fancy getting a little more hands-on throughout the whole weekend, join one of the festival workshops to try your hand at harmonised singing, ukulele playing, creative writing and open mic poetry. If that’s not for you, check out the range of folk dance groups who’ll be (quite literally) putting on their bells and whistles. Don’t miss Ravens Morris – a troupe of steampunk morris dancers from Shiptonthorpe in East Yorkshire.