Cambridge Folk Festival
I’ve lived in Cambridge for over 30 years but this was my first time at the Cambridge Folk Festival and I was keen to experience this legendary event for myself. The festival was started at Cherry Hinton Hall way back in 1965 with ticket sales of 1400, nearly breaking even in the first year. This year, and still at the same venue, the 52nd Cambridge Folk Festival was a sell-out with more than 14,000 people attending the four-day event and hailed as a great success by the organisers, Cambridge Live.
Eddie Barcan, who has been programming the festival for 23 years, suggests that while its heart is in the best current traditional music, it’s not afraid to blur the boundaries or challenge the definition of folk. What a fantastic way to summarise the festival in a few words.
There was a truly eclectic mix of performers with the headliners on the main stages including KT Tunstall, Imelda May, Christy Moore and a hugely energetic Gogol Bordello. The Cash Box Kings brought their Chicago Blues, Afro Celt Sound System their fusion of ‘Irish, Scottish and West African rhythms’, Eliza Carthy a more traditional but powerful folk sound and Kate Busby (Big Brave Bill) entertained the crowd with energetic folk and her trademark cup of Yorkshire tea. This is just a tiny sample of the huge talent from across the globe that we were able to experience over the 4 days.
With two main stages, the club tent, the Den and several smaller areas, there was music and performances everywhere, far too much to take in and leaving you satisfied but still wanting more. There was definitely something for everyone and you couldn’t help but be entertained. While some were keen to be front of stage, totally immersed in their favourite bands, others were very happy to sit away from the stage areas, with friends and family, and just soak up the sounds, the general atmosphere and chill!
My first Cambridge Folk Festival and wow, I now realise that I have been missing out on something really special for the last 30 years and I completely understand why people return year after year. Already looking forward to the 53rd!
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