My First FolkEast

Day one and I’m wondering why I haven’t been here before. This idyllic little wonderland is the most perfectly relaxed festival experience I have ever encountered. No rushing about here and even with a six-year-old in tow I find myself adopting a leisurely, almost languid pace as I wander the site. Everyone is smiling, everyone is getting involved and with an extraordinary range of activities across the site, from printing and woodcarving to knitting, weaving and pottery, there is plenty to get involved in.

Surely this is the perfect escape for city-dwellers longing to get into the green but not quite sure how to ‘do’ rural England. Here at FolkEast you are in the countryside, surrounded by green fields and trees, but there is absolutely no risk of being bored.

Many festivals appeal to the family audience, some more successfully than others, but the sense of freedom and of safety here at FolkEast is impossible to match, and not just because it’s smaller than places like Latitude and Glastonbury. Everyone here is relaxed. Everyone is smiling. Strangers talk to each other in queues. Stallholders want to talk about their work because it is ‘their’ work. As a parent I’m delighted to have the opportunity to show my son what can be produced by hand and what it takes to produce ‘real’ stuff. I haven’t seen one child with an iPad all day and only heard Pokemon mentioned in the Social Knitworks tent where you can pick up a knitted Pokemon. In fact I don’t think I’ve heard a phone ring for hours now and I haven’t looked at my emails all day ­– and I’m not going to now. Heaven!

Parents stroll about holding hands as children run ahead or roll about as children do when they feel safe and happy. And the food is great too. I’ve just devoured a gammon bap in the Imagined Suffolk Food Village and I’m already looking forward to afternoon tea and cake. Yum!

And I haven’t even mentioned the music. There are four stages on site and I’ve been moving between them all day. I started with Tilly Dalglish & Sam McKie on the Soapbox Stage, always a treat, then on to Kevin Walford & Kelly Pritchard on the Sunset Stage, followed by Ross Couper & Tom Oakes on the Broad Roots Stage… and so it continued. It’s all so accessible, so tangible, so real… I defy you to spend a day at FolkEast and not wish you could pick up an instrument, any instrument, and join in. In fact if you want your son/daughter to ‘do’ music, FolkEast is your secret weapon.

This festival is shaped by the music and by those who make it and the joy this generates is infectious. It’s also inspiring and in a world where so much of what we experience is fleeting and soon forgotten this is music with real history and that makes FolkEast a true celebration of talent and of workmanship.