Who gives a folk? The National Folk Festival 2019
The National Folk Festival is held every Easter long weekend in Canberra and it is the biggest of it’s kind in the country. In 2018 it saw over 14,000 attendees with almost half of those being interstate visitors. I decided 2019 was the year it was time to see if as a long term Canberran I had been missing out on what could be a great local event.
Hyped from my first ever Canberra Light Rail ride on the way to the festival, I slowly started to hear the sounds of violins the closer I got to the entrance. The ambience was not subtle. As soon as I walked into the festival grounds there was a lot vying for attention from both my eyes and ears. There were two stages within earshot, colourful flags, and craft everywhere and a clown show right next to the path. I was there for the Sunday, which was the third day of the festival, but there were no excessive lines to go in, nor for the bars or food stalls. As far as big festivals, this certainly was the most relaxed one that I have been to.
As I opened my program I realised just how big of an operation the folk festival is. There were a lot of shows. A LOT of shows. There are over 100 different musical acts alone, a lot of them with more than one performance on. That’s not including the non-musical acts and street performers. You’ll certainly get your money worth music-wise if folk is your thing. They even held regular workshops, a lot of them for dance if you felt like a boogie. Completely bewildered I was glad I had organised to meet up with someone that had gone before and had an itinerary planned for us.
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We like a late night party at #ourNFF 🎶 Dance like no-one's watching and #FindYourFolkAtTheNational Dance Party 11pm-midnight each night; Tonight @manrancam , Tomorrow @melisande.electrotrad and last night's heros @19twenty will be at Budawang tomorrow (Sun) 1pm. Carry on with @thebottlers at Scrumpy afterwards 12:30am Photos by Matt James and Ben Appleton #ourNFF #5DaysinaPerfectWorld
In the 8 hours that I was there, I squeezed in 10 acts. It was easy to get around as you could just move on to one of the other 14 stages if you weren’t vibing with the music. I wouldn’t consider myself a folk enthusiast, but I did find myself enjoying a large portion of the sets. Highlights for me included Bonniedoon, Guyy & the Fox and John John Festival.
Even if Folk Music is not necessarily your preference, as long as you don’t actively dislike it I am pretty confident in recommending the National Folk Festival to you for 2020. If you’re looking for a fun way to spend a day over a long weekend, there is more than enough to see, eat, drink and buy to keep you entertained.