Chippenham Folk Festival
Chippenham Folk Festival is an annual event which features the very best in English traditional music, dance, song and folk activities with all its related interests. It has maintained its principles over its 40+ years and has a unique and distinctive brand. From modest beginnings the festival has grown to be one of the keenest supported in the country.
Many of the Chippenham attendees are repeat visitors from previous years, which is substantially higher than many other festivals.
The Chippenham Folk Festival punches well above its weight and is regarded as one of the premier folk festivals in the country despite its tight budget limitations. It looks and feels like a much bigger budget production.
Every pound raised through ticket-sales, collections, donations etc is spent on the Festival; none goes towards salaries. The driving force is not profit-making - we know how much money there is to spend each year. We don’t have to go for the ‘safe’ or ‘money-making’ options.
As the festival is sited right in the centre of the town much of the money spent by its attendees does not end up in the festivals purse.
When applying economic business principles to the event in the town it has been shown that the Chippenham Folk Festival puts about £1.5 million into the local economy every year but in return receives less than 10% of its annual budget in sponsorship and local authority funding.
Chippenham Folk Festival is a unique and distinctive event of national importance. It features the very best in English traditional music and dance with an emphasis on participation and education. Run entirely by volunteers, it has minimal and very local sponsorship; it is fiercely independent and entirely in control of its artistic programme. Ticket prices are kept as low as possible and the festival runs over four days. It is designed to be non-profit.
It is a ‘200+ events, make up your own festival in a variety of venues in a small, welcoming, market town’ festival. Just like English traditional music and dance it is modest, unassuming, inclusive, fun and ultimately rewarding.
There is huge support locally and as a spin-off, the town makes a lot of money because of the festival. Chippenham Folk Festival prides itself on being within the town and supporting the town’s economy, cultural heritage and education. The Chippenham Town Council and Chippenham Area Board of Wiltshire Council recently honoured the festival organisers with a Civic Award for both their dedication to the folk festival and for the importance of the folk festival to the town of Chippenham.
The festival started in Lacock, a nearby picturesque village in 1972. It was soon clear that the Festival had outgrown the village and it gravitated to the nearest picturesque town. The festival has continued to evolve while holding true to the original principles. The people involved in it have changed, new areas become dynamic, some venues disappear and new venues become available; putting on the festival is always challenging but at its core, the people who are involved in the festival are passionate about it.
What makes us different
There are a large number of comparable folk festivals taking place each year. Each has a slightly different flavour. Chippenham Folk Festival has a unique brand and a wide geographic draw, mainly because of its focus on English traditions and its location within an accessible small market town.
Chippenham Folk Festival offers a balanced programme of music and dance. With the large number of events and venues the festival is kept at the human scale so everyone feels involved.
Coming for the first time? - here are some tips.
If you haven’t visited the festival before it can be quite bewildering. There are up to twenty different venues in use around the town. So if it is your first visit, you need to park up and get yourself to the main hub at the Island Park, just next to the main town bridge over the River Avon. Although the Festival Office is usually elsewhere in the town, for the duration of the festival it migrates to the Island Park event offices.
The first place to find should be the ticket office. There you can buy a copy of the Festival Programme; go and sit down with a cup of coffee in the nearby café and study the ‘Working Programme’ in the centre of the Souvenir programme.