Warm welcome to Scotland’s friendliest folk festival

The Friel Sisters.
The Friel Sisters.

Scotland’s friendliest festival is here again and promises a full weekend of traditional folk music and fun for all the family.

This year’s 43rd Girvan Traditional Folk Festival runs from Friday, April 28 to Sunday 30 and the Craic never stops with three days of concerts, ceilidhs, open sessions, competitions and children’s events in the friendly atmosphere of the Ayrshire coastal town.

This year’s artists include Sylvia Barnes and Sandy Stanage, The Friel Sisters, Kathy Hobkirk, Steve Turner, Carol Anderson and Rosie Lindsay and festival favourites The Tattiehowkers Ceilidh Band.

Also appearing are Oakum Row, Susana Tornero, Chris Miles and Gary Matthews, Francy Devine, Trapeze Entertainment, Haggerdash and Failte.

Friday night’s opening concert features Sylvia Barnes and Sandy Stanage, Susana Tornero and Steve Turner with a late singaround starting at 10pm. Saturday sees the Bobby Robb tribute singers concert and there are family and farewell concerts on the Sunday night.

Sylvia Barnes and Sandy Stanage have been working together since the 70s, when they were founder members of the seminal Scottish band “Kentigern”.

Anna, Sheila and Clare Friel are young traditional musicians born in Glasgow with their family roots firmly entrenched in the Donegal Gaeltacht (Derrynamansher). They have performed in various venues and festivals across Europe, America and Asia and have appeared as guests on stage or toured with acts such as Altan, The Chieftains and Fidil.

Steve Turner is known as a pioneer of highly sophisticated English concertina song accompaniments, stretching the boundaries of traditional forms.

The festival also features a tribute concert to Bobby Robb on Saturday afternoon – Bobby, with others, was instrumental in founding both the Folk Festival and Folk Club in Girvan.

There are also traditional competitions, the William Grant Open Sessions in venues throughout the town and children’s events. Also this year is a new workshop on the tradition of folk tales and music within theatre. There’s also a special festival outreach concert on April 22 in Ballantrae, and a free bus to and from outlying villages.

Festival chairman Graham Charlton said: “This year’s Girvan Folk Festival will be up there with everything that has always been best about Girvan; sun, sea, sand and of course, the very best of traditional folk music.”

Weekend tickets are £40 or £35 concession with one-day tickets from £20 and £12 for individual concerts. To buy tickets go to www.girvanfolkfestival.co.uk

Girvan is only 20 miles from Ayr on the A77 with frequent trains and bus services. This year the festival is also offering a free bus to and from the festival from Girvan’s outlying areas; Ballantrae, Barr, Pinwherry, Pinmore, Colmonell, Lendalfoot, Dailly and Barrhill.

The festival’s official recommendation for those camping is the Strathaven Caravan Site in Girvan, or check availability with other local camping sites online. The campsite at McCreath Park is no longer in operation.

Festival funders are South Ayrshire Council; South Ayrshire Health & Social Care Partnership; Carrick Futures; FALCK Renewables – Girvan & Assell Valley Fund; LEADER; South Ayrshire Community Planning Partnership; William Grant & Sons Distillers: Foundation Scotland and SAYLSA/Scotrail.