IT'S back! The Leigh Folk Festival returns this year for its 30th anniversary with the "most ambitious" line up so far of music, dance, comedy, spoken word and workshops, which go across four days.
The biggest free festival in Europe kicks off on Thursday June 23 until Sunday June 26 incorporating more than 125 performances across ten stages and venues, plus a selection of intimate ticketed concerts.
Mercury Prize nominated Eliza Carthy (MBE) is among those set to play on the Rockamilly Main Stage in Leigh Gardens on the Saturday, (sponsored by Leigh’s fabulous Rockamilly Boutique).
She'll be fronting the Eliza Carthy Trio along with with Saul Rose and David Delarr.
A new Acoustic Stage featuring a wealth of local talent will be introduced within the walls of Library Gardens.
Alongside will be the traditional alternative dance shows, creative workshops and activities for all, plus a dedicated children's and family area, independent makers and street food market including traditional ale and craft beers.
Elliott Waters, festival director, said: "Leigh Folk Arts [the organisation behind the festival] is overjoyed to celebrate this landmark anniversary with Leigh Folk Festival this year.
"After a two-year hiatus, in which the charity organised the highly successful Front Room Folk Festival and The Garden Gatherings, we couldn’t be happier to be back with our eclectic line-up music, comedy, poetry, dance, storytelling, workshops, children’s activities, singarounds and open-mic events.
"This truly is the most ambitious Leigh Folk Festival in our 30-year history."
St Clement’s Church will offer a free atmospheric open-mic called Poetry by Candlelight on Thursday 23 June, with storytelling events on Friday 24 and Saturday 25 June in the morning. An open mic competition takes place in the church on the afternoon on Saturday.
Entries must be pre-booked at leighfolkfestival.com.
On Sunday the church will be filled with sounds of the London Bulgarian Choir, supported by the Mudlarks and the Feel-Good Choir.
Back in the Library Gardens, three stages of entertainment throughout the weekend will include performances from No Good Woman and the Kingsnakes, Green Diesel, the Famous Potatoes, who will lead a family ceilidh, the Plan, the Thameside Mummers, Umbrella Factory, Emerald Hill, the Levent-Taylor World Band, the Long Run, In Earnest, Ray Miso Trio, Pick Yer Feet Up, Sam Fraser and Caitlin King.
On Saturday, So Slam Records will take over Leigh Community Centre with a live podcast recording with Sheila Lord, and BBC Introducing will be showcasing the best unsigned, undiscovered and under the radar Essex talent on Sunday.
Leigh Community Centre will also host a series of free workshops on Saturday, to learn the unique art of model making from world-leading film company Aardman Animations, the team behind Wallace and Gromit, Shaun the Sheep, Morph, Chicken Run. Booking ahead is required.
Buskers Square returns to The Broadway Pub in Leigh on Saturday, with The Pink Flamingo music event at the venue on Sunday June 26.
The Fishermen’s Chapel will be filled with music on Saturday and Sunday with guest curators Culture As A Dare and M.G Boulter. Performances include Blind River Scare, Elaine Palmer, Harriet Bradshaw, Lean with the Breeze, Rev Simpkins and the Phantom Notes, Haress, Simon Finn, Pettaluck, Jason Steel, Diamond Family Archive, Alasdair Robert, Lost Harbours, The Owl Service, Masal, Burd Ellen, Evan Parker and more.
Following the success of Leigh Folk Arts Garden Gatherings in September 2021, open-air comedy is also back, curated by Little Smash Comedy, who, ahead of the Edinburgh Fringe, will host a ticketed comedy in the park on Friday June 24.
Visit leighfolkfestival.com for booking of ticketed events and much more information.