Whitby Folk Week is a big date in the UK folk calendar with over 300 performances from over 100 artists, across 50 venues. Let us tell you more about Whitby Folk Week…
With fun activities, superb concerts, and interesting events throughout the town, Whitby Folk Week is sure to have something for everyone.
What is 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.
British folk dancing, which was the inspiration of Whitby Folk Week, includes quite a variety of dances and rills from many eras 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 variety 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 leather shoes 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 the 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.
[email protected] 2021
Whitby Folk Week 2021 has been postponed and they are instead hosting a virtual [email protected] this year.
They have been working hard planning a full week of virtual events, which will take place from 21st to 26th August. It will include concerts, ceilidhs, workshops, talks, singarounds, storytelling and music sessions, plus of course, something for the children and youth. They will not be charging for any of the events, but hope that you will support both Whitby Folk Week and their wonderful Artists, through donations, to help to ensure the future of this very special festival.
They will be updating their website with [email protected] 2021 featured artists, but rest assured, it will include many of the names you have come to know and love at Whitby, and some new/ less familiar to you.
For more information about this years Whitby Folk Week visit www.whitbyfolk.co.uk