Timing it just right – Purbeck Valley Folk Festival gets to go ahead

With huge relief and excitement for the musicians and organisers, the Purbeck Valley Folk Festival 2021 has kicked off, despite plenty of other gigs being cancelled this year due to Covid restrictions.

The music event is the first local festival to happen post-Covid in Purbeck. It takes place at Purbeck Valley Farm in Harmans Cross near Swanage from Friday 20th to Sunday 22nd August 2021, although on Thursday 19th there’s also evening performances for everyone arriving for the long weekend.

Purbeck Valley Folk Festival 2021
High Shelf Remedy at Purbeck Valley Folk Festival 2021
High Shelf Remedy at Purbeck Valley Folk Festival 2021

High Shelf Remedy – the first act of 2021 on stage at Purbeck Valley Folk Festival 2021

Cancelled in 2020

Like pretty much every festival across the UK, the Purbeck Valley Folk Festival was cancelled in 2020, although there was an online event.

With continued uncertainty over Covid and the changing regulations, it wasn’t always certain that the 2021 festival would get the green light. Countless events earlier in the year across Purbeck have been cancelled but now in August, things are starting to go ahead.

Purbeck Valley Folk Festival 2021
Paul Burke

One of the organisers, Paul Burke (centre) catching up with friends

“Over the moon that it’s happening!”

Paul Burke, who along with his daughter Catherine organises the festival said:

“We’re over the moon that it’s happening! We weren’t too sure it would but we’ve sold lots of tickets and while the weather isn’t looking too good, there’s fabulous music and a lovely atmosphere.

“The thing I’m looking forward to is not just one band but the whole overall feeling of hearing live music again. There’s going to be around three and a half thousand people here – marginally more than in 2019 – it’s buzzing!

“I must say thank you to the Barnes family, who own the farm, as they’ve been totally supportive and make everything so much easier.”

Rhian Graham

Rhian Graham works backstage as the artists’ liaison

Katy Hooper

Katy Hooper performs on the Thursday and Saturday night

More than 70 bands and performers

The festival features more than 70 bands and performers, along with musical and craft workshops, storytelling, stand up comedy and a fire performance troupe.

Performers include protest singer Grace Petrie and Scottish singer Roddy Woomble, as well as local bands, Ninebarrow, The Last Inklings, Wareham Whalers and Glenn Ross and Pete Lubbock.

sound check at the Purbeck Valley Folk Festival 2021
Guitar at the Purbeck Valley Folk Festival 2021
Mixing desk at Purbeck Valley Folk Festival 2021

The technical crew spent Thursday afternoon checking the lights and fine tuning the sound

“Brilliant to be on stage together again!”

Taking the honour of the first band on stage for 2021 at the preview night was High Shelf Remedy. The Boscombe band formerly known as The Fox and the Owl are back with a new name, new guitarist and a new album. Bass guitarist and singer, Lu Davis who produced their album, said:

“We describe ourselves as psychedelic folk infused with trip-hop, dub and blues! Luckily, we’d recorded all the parts for the new album in 2019 before Covid, so we were then able to spend lockdown mixing it all together.

“We’re really pleased with the album but it’s brilliant to be on stage together again!”

High Shelf Remedy at Purbeck Valley Folk Festival 2021
High Shelf Remedy at Purbeck Valley Folk Festival 2021
High Shelf remedy at the Purbeck Valley Folk Festival 2021

High Shelf Remedy – the first band to take to the stage

“Are we all going to go wild?!”

Behind the scenes, there’s been a lot of hard work to ensure everyone has an excellent time and not least with the organising of the bar. The bar manager Jon Nash said:

“It’s so good to be back and nice to see people I haven’t seen for two years. It’s going to be interesting to see how everyone responds to being at a festival again – will there still be caution or are we all going to go wild?! Anyway, it’s a great opportunity to be here, rather than stuck at home!”

The bar at the Purbeck Valley Folk Festival 2021
Bar team at Purbeck Valley Folk Festival 2021

The bar team

Different coloured lanyards

The organisers have gone to great lengths to help people feel at ease attending this large event.

There’s signs asking to give others’ space and festival goers can request different coloured lanyards for their pass, with red meaning ‘please keep your distance’ and yellow meaning ‘happy to chat but please don’t try to hug me or shake my hand’.

sign at the Purbeck Valley Folk Festival 2021
Volunteers at Purbeck Valley Folk Festival 2021

Sorting out the passes for the festival stewards

Large band of volunteers

The festival couldn’t go ahead without the large band of volunteers who help sort out problems and answer lots of questions. One of them is Sophie McCallum from Sussex. She said:

“I came here in 2019 on my own and had such a lovely time as it’s a really friendly festival. This year I wanted to get involved so I decided to volunteer as a steward.

“There’s various things that I’m looking forward to but one of them is seeing Ian Prowe perform. I saw some of his front room gigs during lockdown, so it will be nice to see him live.

“But obviously, I’m also looking forward to being here in the middle of the beautiful scenery in Purbeck, being able to listen to the music, look at the view and chill out!”

Backsatge at Purbeck Valley Folk Festival 2021

Backstage at the Purbeck Valley Folk Festival

Further information

More about the Purbeck Valley Folk Festival and details about all the other bands performing are on its website

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