Folk Week takes place in venues dotted around the town of Broadstairs – a quintessential English seaside town, with beautiful sandy beaches and packed full of cafes, pubs and restaurants, so before there is a note of festival music played or a ceilidh called – there’s a lot to explore and enjoy.
One thing you won’t find is a venue with thousands of people on a green-field site and screens either side of the stage. The Concert marquee, which is built especially for Folk Week, seats 600 people – so it’s a great place to enjoy bands without having to negotiate a space for your picnic blanket, supplies of beer etc. Although August can have interesting weather, the beauty of the marquee is that it is not outdoors and not as vulnerable to England’s finest variations on summer. Situated in the park, right in the middle of town, it’s a leafy and relaxed environment to meet up with friends, have a beer from the Jack Hamilton Shepherd Neame bar and get right into Folk Week.
Five minutes down the hill from the Concert Marquee is the Baptist Centre – a family friendly place with a big welcome for everyone. Lots of workshops take place here – especially for young folk and there are some lovely concerts upstairs in the hall in a very relaxing atmosphere.
Head to the sea and then turn left at the railings on the cliff and you’ll come to the cosy Sailing Club– overlooking Viking Bay and out across the (hopefully) sparkling sea. You couldn’t get any closer to the artistes in this folkie haven – so book early for tickets as it fills up really quickly with regulars who love the place and the opportunity it gives festival goers to meet the performers at Folk Week.
Right down on the beach is the Pavilion on the Sands (the clue is in the name!). Morning coffees are accompanied by the sound of Appalachian or Westmorland clogging workshops; at lunchtimes it’s the ever-popular family ceilidhs and afternoons a mix of the swampy sounds of Cajun, the beat of African drumming and Gumboot dancing and more. The up-tempo pace continues with bands throughout the early evening until late. There’s a real ale bar on the terrace and separate café – and of course –a great view.
On the way back up the High Street is the Crampton Tower museum, run by volunteers and host to some of the small concerts in Folk Week.
These are the venues where you need a ticket to get in – but there are plenty of places that have free entertainment – the pubs and cafes and of course the Bandstand on the cliff with its daily diet of fun with the Hobby Horse Club and afternoon and evening dance and music shows – right next to the free to enter Craft and Music fair on Victoria Gardens.
You’ll find poetry in cafes, breakfasts with musicians, spontaneous outbursts of dancing and an opportunity to have a musical journey of discovery throughout the town.