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Postponed FolkEast festival in Suffolk to go ahead after all as online and live events are announced




A folk festival which had been postponed to 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic will now go ahead this month, entertaining audiences both virtually and at a mini festival in Suffolk.

Organisers of FolkEast, which is the UK's most easterly folk festival, have announced a live-streamed event Virtually FolkEast which will take place on Saturday, August 22 from 3pm to 9pm.

And an open-air concert – Virtually FolkEast-Live – will play to an audience of up to 200 people from a meadow at FolkEast HQ, close to the Glemham Hall festival site on Saturday, August 22 and Sunday, August 23.

FolkEast is returning this year after all with a virtual festival and two live concerts
FolkEast is returning this year after all with a virtual festival and two live concerts

Back in April, husband and wife directors John and Becky Marshall-Potter reluctantly decided to postpone their event until August 20-22 in 2021 following the Covid-19 outbreak.

But they were determined to organise something that would bring the flavour of FolkEast to the county on the original weekend of this year's festival.

Buoyed by over 300 supporters donating nearly £33,000 to a crowdfunder to ensure the future of the festival, Becky said: “Over the months of lockdown, inspirational virtual events have brought people together online and although looking at a screen can never be the same as physically going to a venue or sitting in a field with other festivalgoers they have proved really popular.

The FolkEast festival is taking place at Glemham Hall, in east Suffolk
The FolkEast festival is taking place at Glemham Hall, in east Suffolk

“People have been stuck behind closed doors for so long and musicians unable to play for months. We wanted to bring artists and audience back together and give everyone a boost – a festival fix.”

Virtually FolkEast will be available through FolkEast’s website and Facebook site on Saturday, August 22, from 3pm to 9pm.

And Virtually FolkEast-Live – a four-hour ‘real time’ mini festival – will go ahead on the same weekend, as FolkEast has been granted a licence to go ahead with the concert which will give people a chance to buy a socially distanced picnic pitch to accommodate up to six people and see a variety of artists.

Topped by FolkEast patrons The Young’uns, the bill will also include performances by Sam Kelly (together with Evan Carson and Toby Shaer from his Lost Boys band), John Spiers (Bellowhead, Knight and Spiers, Gigspanner Big Band); instrumental duo The Hut People (Sam Pirt and Gary Hammond), new folk singer-songwriter Katherine Priddy and local Suffolk duo Honey & The Bear (Jon & Lucy Hart).

The Young'Uns top the bill at Virtually FolkEast. Picture: SUBMITTED. (40082996)
The Young'Uns top the bill at Virtually FolkEast. Picture: SUBMITTED. (40082996)

Among those contributing a song to the day from afar will be the legendary Peter Knight (from his home in France), Mary-Anne Kennedy from Scotland and Daoiri Farrell from Ireland.

John Spiers will also be hosting ‘Gardeners’ Cornered’ – FolkEast’s answer to Radio 4’s ‘Gardeners’ Question Time’ – answering postbag horticultural queries.

The same live line-up will also be performing the next day at a ‘Sunday Picnic’ event at the same location – this won’t be streamed but will enable even more families and friends to get their festival fix.

Honey & The Bear are set to play Virtually FolkEast. Picture: SUBMITTED. (40082994)
Honey & The Bear are set to play Virtually FolkEast. Picture: SUBMITTED. (40082994)

Becky said: "We are grateful to East Suffolk Council for granting us a licence to stage these two live concerts and looking forward to it hugely.

"We’d like to say a huge thank you to all the artists and crew who have agreed to take part.

"This is new territory for everyone but we will ensure all correct measures will be taken to make the event Covid secure.”

Audience members can bring chairs to the event along with their picnics. The six-person pitches, costing £120, can be bought online at http://folkeast.co.uk/virtually-folkeast/.

Online viewers over the weekend will also be able to donate to the 'Secure FolkEast in 2021 and beyond' campaign.

BBC Radio Suffolk will also be supporting the event with a three-hour FolkEast special on the evening of Friday, August 22, presented by Jon Wright, with a bundle of favourite tracks, interviews and highlights from past FolkEast festivals.

The festival has confirmed that the majority of this year’s scheduled line-up will be on board in 2021 including The Young’uns, Afro Celt Sound System, Catrin Finch & Seckou Keita, the trio Drever, McCusker, Woomble, Gigspanner Big Band, The Shee, The Trails of Cato and Elephant Sessions.

To find out more, visit www.folkeast.co.uk.