Countdown to the 39th Festival:

8 days of music, song and dance in the streets of Alnwick

With just four weeks to go until the start of this year’s music festival, the small group of volunteer organisers are busily finalising the artists programme and practical preparations for what is surely Northumberland’s biggest music, song and dance extravaganza of the year.

“Biggest” may seem a bold claim, but as Festival Chairman Alan Symmonds explains:

“We have groups of performers coming from around the world, from Taiwan and Tennessee, across Europe, plus a number of performers from the UK and closer to home. There will be live performances in and around Alnwick every day, morning, afternoon and most evenings over a full 8 days, amounting to over 50 hours of action. We are expecting around 180 performers, that’s over 1,400 person/days of play.

“For all these artists to travel to Alnwick will involve over 340,000 person/miles. All this surely adds up to make this Northumberland’s biggest cultural event of the year.”

Alan adds:

“Not only that, but most performances take place on an open air stage in Alnwick Market Place, free for all to enjoy with no entry charges.”

Overseas groups taking part in the 2014 Festival

From Taiwan: New Taipei City Art Group is a youth orchestra comprising some of the top players in Taiwan, who will perform traditional Taiwanese music including ‘Hakka’ folk music.

From Tennessee, USA: Cripple Creek Cloggers, from Murfreesboro near Nashville, perform authentic Appalachian style square dancing with clogging steps that owe their origins to traditional English clog dances.

From Romania: Doinita will present folk songs and dances from various regions of Romania, including Transylvania and Moldova.

From Sicily: Gergent will offer a repertoire that expresses both the 'dreaming sadness' and the joy of singing, living and dancing of Sicilian farming and fishing folk.

From Poland: the young performers of odz Folk Song and Dance Ensemble will present lively traditional costumed dances from almost every region of Poland.

From Russia: Family Tradition return to Alnwick with memorable Cossack songs and dances and music played on pipes, whistles, accordions, bagpipes and balalaika.

More details of these, plus the emerging line up of UK and local performers, will be provided via the festival website and the festival’s Facebook and Twitter channels.

Help wanted!

A special request from the Festival Chairman, Alan Symmonds:

"Our small band of volunteers puts in a lot of time and effort to run the festival, but the reward is in the happy faces of the audience and performers, and knowing this is valued in our local community. However, we do need new helpers to share the load, so if anyone can spare us some time to assist with the running of the festival please contact us via the website. Or contact me direct on 01665 606808"