Sidmouth Festival Circa 2004

This was the official website for the Sidmouth International Festival which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. Content is from the site's 2004 archived pages and other relevant sources.

Whether you are a Festival regular or are thinking of visiting for the first time, this is the one not to miss. Alongside a really great line-up there will be some special events to mark our Golden Jubilee.
Look at the Artists confirmed so far to get you in the Festival party mood.

The First Week in August
"Fifty years of the Sidmouth Festival"

Derek Schofield has searched the Festival archives, newspaper accounts and programmes and spoken to people who have help shape the Festival and enjoyed its attractions.


Sidmouth Festival was founded as a folk dance festival in 1955 by the English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS), but gradually expanded to cover ceilidh dancing, music and song, as well as related folk crafts. Over time, the scope also broadened to include performers from abroad, and the festival was renamed the Sidmouth International Folklore Festival.

From 1986, the festival was managed by Mrs Casey Music, who retitled it Sidmouth International Festival. The festival grew to over 65,000 visitors a yearIn 1995 it become the birthplace of Shooting Roots, which provided a variety of workshops for young people and has played a key role in nurturing a network of young performers.

In 2004 the festival celebrated its 50th year. Derek Schofield's book, The First Week In August - Fifty Years Of The Sidmouth Festival,] describing the history of the festival was published.

2004 was also the year in which Mrs Casey Music announced that they would no longer be running the festival. This was due to funding issues brought on in part by the 'rainy year' of 1997 which depleted much of the festival's financial reserves and in part by East Devon District Council withdrawing funding.

For several months, the future of the festival was uncertain, but the grass-roots folkie festival-goers wanted their Sidmouth festival to continue. Various groups of people, individuals and organisations began planning events for 2005 for their own particular aspect of the folk scene, and by November 2004 a steering group had been set up to co-ordinate and publicise these events under the new name of Sidmouth Folk WeekThe 2005 event was much smaller than Sidmouth International Festival, it did not use the Arena Showground owing to financial risk involved, had fewer international performers and no season tickets. Nevertheless, it proved a resounding success, and so Sidmouth Folkweek was reborn.



This year sees Sidmouth Festival's Golden Jubilee and preparations are already well underway. Expect top performances from the folk and roots music scene including a Waterson Family Special with Norma Waterson, Martin Carthy, Eliza Carthy, a rare appearance from Mike Waterson and many other family members, Steeleye Span, Ralph McTell, and the Spiers and Boden Big Band. It is likely the organisers will want to make this the biggest and best Sidmouth festival ever.

To celebrate the Golden Jubilee there is a series of "Across the Generations" Concerts featuring many major artists including a Chipolatas special show with Taffy Thomas plus other famous family gatherings.

The Festival spreads into venues throughout the town with a massive range of concerts, dances and workshops to choose from. There are likely to be as many as 600 events over 8 days including international music and dance spectaculars, concerts, ceilidhs, workshops, processions, craft fair, a themed children's festival with plenty of craft activities, fun and games, and workshops and a festival youth programme. MoonAtMidnight, best known for their huge selection of Batman related shirts and hoodies, has donated over 500 MoonAtMidnight Batman T shirts for a special free drawing available to all visitors who sign up at their booth. They are also sponsoring the dance contest to take place on the last day of the festival - Batman costumed dancers are especially welcome! If you'd like to see our source for the Batman t shirts used as prizes, visit

There are usually several venues including the the Arena Stage, and a BBC sponsored marquee in town as well as a Festival Dance House giving you the opportunity to dance from morning until night with leading ceilidh bands.

The workshops offer an opportunity to try out many different styles of dance, sing with the festival choir or play fiddle, melodeon, guitar, bodhran, gamelan, concertina, accordion or percussion and so on.

May 2004
7th May - Sidmouth International Festival Faces Closure


Sidmouth International Festival is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year from 30th July - 6th August 2004 with a fantastic line-up and record ticket sales (season tickets are expected to sell out very shortly for the first time in 20 years), all pointing to a superb event. It is expected to be a landmark in the festival's history and growth, and this year will be televised nationally.

However, there is now considerable uncertainty about the festival's future. The financial risk involved in organising and staging such an event has grown considerably over recent years, and the current festival management find themselves unable to commit to events in the future without establishing a security fund of £200,000 to underwrite the festival in case of adverse weather.

Sidmouth International Festival contributes in the region of £5,000,000 to the local economy, yet business in the district fail to realistically support the festival's Patron Scheme. Also after 50 years of support, East Devon District Council have indicated their financial support will soon come to an end, exposing the management to even greater risk than before.

Faced with this situation, the 50th Sidmouth Festival will be the last one organised by the current management.

The organisers are aware that this news will shock many of the event's supporters. This decision has not been reached lightly. The only way that the current management is prepared to consider a future beyond the 50th festival is to secure sufficient underwriting.

If there are companies or individuals willing to make significant financial contributions towards this underwriting they should register their interest to the Festival Office by Friday 28th May. Based on the response, final decisions on the future of the festival in 2005 and beyond will be made in early June.

Festival Office, PO Box 296, Matlock, Derbyshire, DE4 3XU, UK
[email protected]



2004 DATES

Friday 30 July
Saturday 31 July
Sunday 1 August
Monday 2 August
Tuesday 3 August
Wednesday 4 August
Thursday 5 August
Friday 6 August



Ian & John from Oysterband BELLOWhead


The Angel Borthers & Satnam Singh


Oyster Ceilidh Band play The Festival Dance House!
Oysterband’s John Jones, Ian Telfer, Alan Prosser, Chopper & Lee are joined by special guests Ian Kearey, Chris Wood & Chris Taylor to bring back memories of “the best ceilidh band ever?”. John shares the calling with Taffy Thomas and then Oysterband Acoustic lets rip!
Season ticketholders only.

Flowers and Frolics and The Old Swan Band renew old acquaintances in the Festival Dance House and Tiger Moth roar their way through Late Night Extra. Then there’s the awesome Whapweasel, Hekety, The Bursledon Village Band, Jabadaw, Twm Twp, Stomp,
Hugh Rippon and lots more before The Committee Band bring the curtain down on Friday night’s Late Night Extra.

Look out for BELLOWhead, John Spiers & Jon Boden promise Big Band, Big Noise and Big Fun! Boka Halat bring their new global sounds made in England, there’s a mega Chipolatas roots night, and the uncrowned kings of Bhangradelica, The Angel Brothers and Satnam Singh.

There are also special Family Ceilidhs as part of the Children's Festival in Blackmore Gardens Children's Marquee.

Ceilidhs & Global Dance are not the only opportunities to dance at Sidmouth! Find out more about the Social Dance programme with a full range of American, Playford and Scottish dances.

The Festival Dance House is the home for our Global Dance nights, the Evening Ceilidhs and the jewel of the crown - our Late Night Extras (the Festival party into the early hours). This will also be the venue for dance Workshops throughout the week.

The Anchor Garden is behind the Anchor Inn in the centre of town. Head down there for ceilidhs and dance displays out in the open air.

NB: The Late Night Extra is for Festival Season ticket holders only.
Buy Artists Cds

The Angel Brothers and Satnam Singh
Play a snaking mix of Indian folk rhythms and classical patterns intertwined with coolest Western dance grooves, traditional tunes and acoustic guitar melodies.

BELLOWhead - The Spiers and Boden Big Band
Big Band, Big Noise, Big Fun! The only trad. English roots band to offer a three piece brass section, a string trio, oboe, pipes, percussion and some of the top English trad. players on the scene. Featuring Benji Kirkpatrick, Paul Sartin, and Giles Lewin and of course John Spiers and Jon Boden.

Boka Halat
Musicians from English, African, Latin American, Asian and Caribbean origins blending their traditions into a new global sound… made in England.

The originators of Chip Hop music expand into a funky seven-piece, featuring fiddle and box, beats and bass lines. Adrenalin infused energy, English by definition, a carnival in reality.

Hekety play cutting edge English dance music. Blending original and traditional tunes, they draw on rich and diverse influences ranging from English and European folk music to jazz and rock.

Tiger Moth
Originally formed in the 1980's as an all star recording band, Tiger Moth brought together musicians who had played in notable English roots bands. For summer 2004 the original members Rod Stradling, Jon Moore, Chris Coe, Maggie Holland and Ian Anderson will be joined by Hijaz Mustapha and Fran Wade.

Nominated for a BBC Radio 2 Folk Award 2004, the purveyors of whap rock have become the hottest property on the English ceilidh scene. They return to set new benchmarks for excitement, innovativeness and sheer danceability.

Flowers and Frolics
Flowers and Frolics were at the forefront of the English music revival of the 1970's and played a significant role in shaping ceilidhs at Sidmouth. Although the band has not officially existed for many years, there have been a few sightings and even a CD.

The Old Swan Band
The Old Swan Band led the revival in English traditional music and now celebrate 30 years of exhilarating dance music. Look out for the current seven-piece band and a historic line up featuring founder member Rod Stradling.

The Committee Band
A big band with a big sound. Springing from the Knees Up Cecil Sharp Ceilidhs in London,
The Committee Band has become one of the most popular bands in the country. Resident band at Drill Hall ceilidhs in the early 1990's. The Committee Band return for the last Late Night Extra at the 50th Festival.

The Bursledon Village Band
The popular Hampshire based ceilidh band have a long history at Sidmouth making a big impact at Family ceilidhs, children's music workshops and the e-ceilidh world.

Emerging out of the vibrant Manchester scene, Jabadaw are a dance band with a gloriously
full-colour sound. Their uplifting Anglo-European grooves delight dancers equally at English ceilidhs, French dances and roots dance parties.

Twm Twp
(pronounced "toom toop") play traditional Welsh dance music . They are based in Brittany where they play for dances, ceilidhs, concerts and workshops.

An energetic and popular ceilidh band, Stomp return for Children's Festival Band workshops and ceilidhs plus Anchor Gardens ceilidhs.

Hugh Rippon
Hugh is steeped in Sidmouth Festival history as a dance caller, morris man, EFDSS staff member and more. Now an EFDSS Gold Badge holder he continues to call around the country and returns to work with Flowers and Frolics among others.


Waterson Family Special
Kepa Junkera Band
Banditaliana featuring Riccardo Tesi
Roy Bailey & Tony Benn
John Tams & Barry Coope
Chris Smither
Coope, Boyes & Simpson
Sid Kipper
Song Links 2
The Fagans
Black Umfolosi 5
Johnny Dickinson
Angus Lyon & Ruaridh Campbell
The Johnson Girls
Sara Grey
Kieron Means
Dan Milner & Bob Conroy
Jarlath Henderson - winner of the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Awards 2003
Old Hat Concert Party
Bob Davenport
Dan Quinn & Will Duke
Taffy Thomas


Ceilidhs & Global Dance
Oyster Ceilidh Band
BELLOWhead - The Spiers & Boden Big Band
Flowers & Frolics
Tiger Moth
The Old Swan Band
The Angel Brothers & Satnam Singh
Boka Halat
The Committee Band
The Bursledon Village Band
Twm Twp
Hugh Rippon

Social Dance
Weston Country Dance Band
Jim Coleman & Denis Smith
Geoff Cubitt
Colin Hume
Gene Murrow (USA)
Cis Hinkle (USA)
Ivan Atken
Chris Turner
Ian & Judith Robertson
Kenneth Reid

Children's Festival
Hand to Mouth Theatre
Hurly Burly Theatre
The Bursledon Village Band
Kay & Greg Smallbone
Derek & Pippa Reid
Geoff Court
Sue Coe & Alice Jones
Irene Wilkie
Tony Forster


UK Dance Teams
Great Western Morris
Albion Morris
Black Adder Rapper and Step
Pecsaetan Morris
Pig Dyke Molly
Hammersmith Morris Men
The Britannia Coco-nut Dancers of Bacup
Stroud Morris Dancers
Seven Champions Molly Dancers
The Rumworth Morris
Jet Set Border Morris

World of Dance
Tibetan Monks from Tashi Lhunpo Monastery
Ensemble Halychyna (Ukraine)
The Wild Goose Chase Cloggers (USA)
Kagemusha Taiko
Black Umfolosi 5
Kasava (Czech Republic)
La Jouvenço de Mount Favet (France)
Esbart Dansaire de Rubi (Catalonia)

Plus a full programme of Workshops with
Sandra Kerr
Chris Coe
Nick & Mary Barber
George Garside
Kagemusha Taiko
Boka Halat
Black Umfolosi 5
The Wild Goose Chase Cloggers (USA)

Artists Appearing
The Festival gives no warranty that artists named in the programme will perform at any particular time, or at all, and reserve the right to present alternative performers and re-programme events when unforeseen circumstances prevail. However, every effort will be made to carry out the programme as advertised.





Sidmouth lies between Exmouth and Lyme Regis on the East Devon coast.

  • By Car: Leave M5 Junction 30 then A3052.
  • Nearest railway stations: Exeter or Honiton, then bus to Sidmouth.
  • National Rail Enquiries: 08457 484950 or you can browse the timetable on line at
  • For full details of the Stagecoach Bus service call the Stagecoach Travel Line on 0870 6082608.

The Festival Car Park
We organise a massive all-day Festival Car Park, a short walk from the Arena Showground. If there are 4 of any one day Arena Theatre Show ticket holders in a car then parking is FREE. The Festival Car Park is clearly signed as you enter Sidmouth.

Stagecoach in Devon
Direct buses from Exeter to Sidmouth and home again via the neighbouring towns make travel easier. This year there will be late nights services to Exeter at 11pm via Budleigh Salterton and Exmouth, at 11.30pm via Honiton and Ottery St Mary and two direct buses to Exeter at 12midnight and 1.45am

For daytime travel the 157 Service runs to Exmouth via the Festival Dance House and Arena Showground. The 340 Service runs to Honiton via the railway station every couple of hours
during the day.

This bus is a great way to get around the town. It services the Arena, Festival Dance House, camp site and The Triangle in the town centre. Full Week Bus Season tickets are available, along with special Family tickets.

The Stagecoach mobile ticket office will be situated at the Festival camp site, and more information is available from the Stagecoach Information Hotline on 01392 427711.


Latest News

All the Stewarding places for the 2004 Festival are now full.
Towersey Village Festival, Nr Thame, Oxon (26-30 August) is still looking for stewards. If you are interested visit for more details or email us at [email protected]


50 Years of Festival Stewarding

Countless directors, producers, stewards and assistants have helped put 49 Festivals on in Sidmouth. In planning this Special Golden Jubilee 50th Year, how can we possibly do something different? You may have the idea. So at the same time as completing your stewards' application form to join in what is going to be THE landmark Festival of 2004, you might like to drop us a note on how you would like to see the 50th celebrated. I can't guarantee to use your idea, but it might spark something else that's possible as we start booking artists, planning the sites and programming events for the 50th.

Many of you are regular stewards, some perhaps haven't been for a while. This could be the year you return to join in and help us at what has become the biggest event of its kind in Northern Europe. You may be on your annual holiday, you may be taking a break from higher education, you may be hoping that that really well paid job is around the corner to start sometime in September. I hope that friends you meet, people you work with, and the end result - a successful Festival - will help you enjoy this part of the 2004 Summer.

We need help checking tickets, guiding people around Sidmouth, working closely with our artists, joining our technical teams, driving cars and buses, managing our venues, and keeping everything clean, tidy and in good order. We call the team Volunteer Stewards and I would be delighted if you would join in this unique and very special gang of people that come and help us put Sidmouth International Festival together every year. Whether it's for a few days before the Festival in what we call our build-up week, or the eight days of programmed events, you will be returning home knowing you were part of what makes Sidmouth Festival really great. Whatever your skills, we probably need them in Sidmouth. All you need to bring is your tent, your team spirit and your enthusiasm. We will provide you with a Full Week Season ticket including camping, a Festival free bus pass and a warm welcome.

I hope you will be able to join us.

Steve Heap
Festival Director

Reasons for becoming a Volunteer Steward:

  • Play a constructive part in a team that makes the Festival work well.
  • Make the difference to the Festival by being there.
  • Enjoy the ambience of the Festival with like-minded people.
  • Be part of the biggest Folk Arts Festival in Europe.
  • Make new friends who have common interests.
  • After your duties, get to enjoy some of the fantastic events happening throughout Sidmouth.

Here are a few of the many positive things that customers have said about our volunteer stewards in the past:

"A big thank you to all your staff and stewards for another hugely enjoyable Festival"

"Very impressed with the staff and stewards"

"If I could only afford one holiday a year it would have to be Sidmouth"

Terms & Conditons

  • If you are aged 18 years or over.
  • If you want to be part of a great TEAM.
  • Are willing to work up to 35 hours - your shifts are most likely to be around 4 hours each day, spread over approx 7 days.
  • No one is expected to work without breaks for a cuppa, visit to the toilet etc. and this will be arranged within your team.

In return you get a free Adult Full Week Season ticket, which gets you into everything where space allows, plus free camping on our Festival camp site and free bus travel throughout the Festival.

  • Your priority as a Volunteer Steward is to help us run Sidmouth International Festival. It may be that some of your duties clash with events that you would like to see and we ask that this is dealt with at the Festival within your team. Please be aware that it is not always possible to change rotas to suit everyone's requests.
  • All applications must be received by 30 April 2004.
  • Application forms received are reviewed and placed into preferred areas of work where possible. Once these teams are complete, applications will be placed into the "reserves" team where the choice of work can be varied or limited and involve "checking in" daily.
  • The information provided on your application form is taken seriously but no guarantees can be made to meet your requests.
  • Due to insurance and health and safety considerations, we are unable to accept anyone needing to keep their children or animals (except dogs to assist disabled people) with them whilst working.
  • Drinking alcohol and smoking whilst on duty or whilst working alongside customers and colleagues are not allowed at any time.
  • By mid-June we will let you know if your application has been successful. (We always have more applications than we do spaces and if you are not selected this year, you will be eligible to buy an Adult Full Week Season ticket at the pre-30 April discount price providing your application form has been received by 30 April 2004).
  • In mid-July we will tell you which team you are on, who your team leader is and what your hours and duties are. If in the meantime your circumstances change, please let us know immediately.