About the Festival

The Swanage Folk Festival is two days of dance and music around the town.  It’s self-funded and run solely volunteers. We don’t make a profit and if we have a surplus we donate a small amount to local good causes.

We’ve been going since 1992 and it’s been getting bigger every year.

What’s happening and where?

You can get full details of the programme here.

Each year our small seaside town, on the beautiful Jurassic coast of Dorset, fills up with hundreds of colourful dancers and the town resonates to the sound of bells jingling, sticks thwacking and excellent music.

The beating heart of the festival is on Sandpit Field, where there’s the main marque, craft fair, food stalls, first aid and (of course) the beer tent. Here’s where you’ll see most of the headline bands and evening concerts. Some of the concerts are free and others you need to buy tickets for (we have to pay artists and for the equipment hire).

The Morris dancers are the most colourful part of the festival and they perform throughout the day on Saturday and Sunday, stop and watch them for free. As Dorset Life put it in 2017 – this is where Rappers meet Mollies and Fools flirt with belly dancers, dancers in clogs performing step dances, and Cotswold dancers from Dorset rub shoulders with traditional Slovak dancers, swords are drawn and sticks primed for a procession through town.

There are also various workshops and singalongs around the town. Some of these are free, others you’ll need to buy tickets for. Here’s a map of all the locations.

Some Festival history.

The folk festival has come a long way since our first day of dance in 1992. It has grown into a full and varied weekend of music and dance.

The Festival started out as a festival of dance and the evening concerts were mainly to thank and entertain the dancers.

Over the period it’s grown, and grown. We are now big enough to invite some very big names in UK Folk music.

The whole idea was to extend the summer season, so the Festival always takes place two weeks after August bank holiday; that’s after the schools go back, and make it feel like a late summer.

This video clip is from 2000

Supporting Local Charities

SFF donating to St George's preschoolThe Swanage Folk Festival is a non profit group and when there’s an excess we donate to local good causes.

In 2022 St George’s Pre-school Leader, Sabrina Moss, was delighted when she received an unexpected donation of £250 from Swanage Folk Festival. As she accepted the cheque, Sabrina said: “The money is very welcome as the Pre-school had been unable to do much fundraising over the last couple of years
because of Covid. We are hugely grateful to Swanage Folk Festival for thinking of us!”

Two other local charities are also benefiting from Swanage Folk Festival donations. Willdoes and The Friends of Swanage Hospital are also receiving donations of £250.

Margaret Tyrer, Chair of Swanage Folk Festival said: “We are really pleased to be helping these worthwhile local charities, particularly in this our 30th Anniversary year. We hope to have a bumper Festival in 2022 and have already booked two of the most popular acts on the folk scene, Seth Lakeman and the Oysterband. “If we have a successful Festival, we will have more to give this time next year.”