Whitby Folk Week

Whitby Folk Week is a big date in the UK folk calendar with over 300 performances from over 100 artists, across 50 venues.

With fun activities, superb concerts and interesting events throughout the town, Whitby Folk Week is sure to have something for everyone.

Whitby Folk Week
Whitby Folk Week

Get Your Tickets

If you haven’t got your tickets yet a complete season ticket that will give you access to all the events and performances throughout the week. Full information is available on the Whitby Folk Week website.

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All gigs at Whitby Folk Week are first come first served basis so it’s recommended to arrive well in advance of start times, grab a pint and settle in for the performance. Once a venue is full, it’s standing room only.

Whitby Folk Week is famed for its camping, you can book camping places in addition to your festival tickets at the time of purchase at the Ticket Office.

Looking for a little luxury? Choose from our extensive selection of quality bed and breakfasts, cosy cottages and fantastic hotels.

There are plenty of out of town options for seeking quieter stay; try Robin Hoods Bay, Sandsend, Staithes, Goathland or Runswick Bay.

Ceildh at Whitby Folk Week
Ceildh at Whitby Folk Week

Children and Youth Events

There’s a full itinerary for children and young people at Whitby Folk Week. For children there’s amazing sessions such as Music, Morris, Messy Crafts and more, Children’s Longsword with Sue Coe & Mossy Christian and Clog for the whole family and much much more…

Two new events for teenagers this year are Youth Ceildh and Young Band Ceildh and the Yoof Club will return with Bryony Griffith & Will Hampson.


Escape reality with an enchanting story with one of the awesome Whitby Folk Week storytellers. Join Taffy & Chrissie Thomas, Moe Keast and Alex Ultradish for folk tales to take you away.

Dance Sessions

Got the moves like Jagger? Brush up at one of the Whitby Folk Week dance workshops and strut your stuff like a pro. There’s a dance every afternoon culminating in the Spa Dance Extravaganza on Sunday afternoon.

Music Sessions

Looking for a jam with an Irish fiddler? Desperate for a sea shanty sing-along? You’re sure to find your fix in one of Whitby’s many pubs any day of the week during the festival. All ages, abilities and inclinations welcome!

History of Whitby Folk Week

Music festivals of all sorts end up in the town of Whitby and one of the largest is the week long Whitby Folk Week. The festival is a celebration of the folk music of the British Isles with singers, callers and dancing events. The folk gathering started out as a small, dance inspired festival in 1965 and has grown into one of the largest folk music and dance festivals in northern UK. 2013 marks its 48th year in Whitby.

British folk dancing, which was the inspiration of Whitby Folk Week, includes quite a variety of dances and rills from many eras with in the UK. Dances dating back to ancient Babylon through to the modern era are performed at the festival. The Maypole dance, which harkens back to Babylon, developed into a popular folk dance with two unique segments. There is the circle dance and the ribbon dance portions that make up the Maypole dance.

There is a plethora of songs and styles that can be heard during Whitby Folk Week

Clogging is another popular dance variation often performed at the festival. The dance style is popular, and was originated, in Wales and England. It evolved from dancers who wore wooden clogs as they danced. In about the 16th century, cloggers changed to a leather shoe with wooden pieces on the bottom to help them clog. The clog dances of Wales and England are quite distinctive for each region.

Other forms of folk dancing you may see during Whitby Folk Week are the English country dance, which was a social folk dance popular in the country originating during the Renaissance. The garland dance and sword dances, such as the long sword, which is a dance with Yorkshire roots, and rapper sword dances, are some of the other dancing styles you may witness at the festival.

Folk music has been a part of the British landscape since the arrival of people in Britain in 400 CE. Playing the harp and singing was a common occurrence at feasts during the Medieval period and some of the songs heard now go clear back to that time period. Some of the oldest printed copies of written music that have survived are the ballads of Robin Hood, which began to be sung in the 14th century, dating to 1495.

The British aristocracy and those from the lower societies each had their own styles of folk music. The upper elite knew little about the music of the lower classes and during the mid-17th century, there was a revival of the music, folklore and festivals that had originated with the middle and lower classes in society. The revivals lead to some of the earliest printed collections of music and poetry.

Folk music themes have evolved continuously from rural agrarian life to industrial work songs, which become popular during the industrial revolution, to sea shanties and new forms of folk music like progressive and electric folk. Folk has undergone many revivals in the UK from 1890 to modern day and there is a plethora of songs and styles that can be heard during Whitby's folk festival.

Whitby Folk Week has over 600 scheduled events and there are almost always street performers to be found on the town's corners during the festival, either singing or dancing. It isn't uncommon for people to be sitting in a pub and a spontaneous jam session to break out, entertaining other musicians and local residents alike. Some events are even scheduled for after midnight and lasting until 2 or 3 a.m.

For more information about this years Whitby Folk Week visit http://www.whitbyfolk.co.uk/

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