About the Festival

Full programme details – click 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 marquee, craft fair, food stalls, first aid and the beer tent (of course). This is 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. 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.

The Festival is self-funded and run solely volunteers. If we manage to create a small surplus we donate it to local good causes.

We rely on your support, so volunteer to help and / or donate.

Next year’s Swanage Folk Festival

The Swanage Folk festival is always on the second weekend after the summer Bank Holiday.

Swanage Folk Festival dates 2024 6/7/8 September

Swanage Folk Festival dates 2025 5/6/7 September

Festival history.

The Swanage Folk Festival has come a long way since our first day of dance in 1992. It started as a festival of dance, the evening concerts were mainly to thank and entertain the dancers. Now it’s grown into a full and varied programme weekend of music, dance and crafts.

We are now big enough to invite some very big names in UK Folk music.

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

Enjoy this old video from 2000 and a newer one from 2021.

Who arranges the Festival?

The Festival committee has been led for many years by Steve Parker. In 2022 he stood down from running the Festival, but still helped the rest of us put it together.

The committee consists of Jon Baker (Chair),  Matt Piper (Treasurer), Margaret Tyrer, Angela Bell, Christine Moore, Greg Bell, Linda Corlett, Martin Jardine, Sandi Williams, Steve Williams and Angie Phillips.


Supporting Local Charities

Lewis-Manning Hospice care.

Here’s our Treasurer Matt Piper and chairperson Jon Baker, were recently handing over a cheque for £200 to Lewis Manning’s local manager Heidi Stearn.

Jon said:

“As a local festival we aim to help local good causes, donating any surplus after the festival is finished each year. Since Lewis Manning opened their shop this year we’ve become much more aware of the great work they do for families across Purbeck and wanted to help”

Lewis-Manning Hospice Care opened a new shop in Swanage this year to help fund their work for those with life-limiting illnesses and their families across East Dorset. As a local charity they deliver a much needed service to the local community in Swanage. Services are provided for free and include clinics in the Swanage hospital, a day hospice in Wareham and a number of wellbeing activities, as well as bereavement support.

Jon went on to say “we’re in the middle of getting next year’s festival ready, and it was a pleasure to take a break today and spend time with the Lewis Manning volunteers and staff”

Swanage Food bank

The Swanage Folk festival is well known for filling people’s heads with good music, but this year we’re also helping fill the Swanage food bank. Handing over a cheque for £500 to the food bank were the Swanage Folk Festival’s Treasurer Matt Piper and chairperson Jon Baker.
Jon said:
“As a local festival we like to help local good causes, and donate any surplus once the festival is finished each year. We focus on supporting the local community. With this winter’s freezing weather, high heating and food costs the Swanage Food bank is a resource that’s needed more than ever before.”
The Swanage food bank, based in the Salvation Army Lower Hall, Kings Road East, Swanage provides emergency food aid to those in need, thanks to the generosity of local residents, businesses and organisations. Donations of food can be made into the blue Food Bins found in Budgen’s, the Co-op, Costcutters and Spar.

St Georges pre-school

The 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.”