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Broadstairs Folk Week celebrates 49th annual festival in style

By Peter Barnett
Busy Broadstairs Folk Week thrills crowds

by Peter Barnett

Broadstairs Folk Week is expected to generate another cash bonanza for the area.

More than 100,000 visitors will have enjoyed the town’s annual festival of music, dance and arts by the time the last chord is played this coming weekend.

Festival director Jo Tuffs said the spin-off to the economy is huge: “An independent survey by Kent County Council showed that in 2012 the festival generated £2.3 million for the local economy in one week, out-performing other festivals in the county. That is the sort of impact and vital contribution that Folk Week makes.”

With more than 500 varied events on the programme and a team of 233 volunteers, the 49th annual festival is once again proving to be the place to be this week, with visitors from all over the UK and beyond – including Israel, New Zealand and Japan – heading for the town.

Accommodation spaces are hard to find, and the tented village on the outskirts of the town at The Charles Dickens School is once again very busy.

Rain and winds over the weekend meant that some outdoor performances at the bandstand in Victoria Gardens were cancelled, although sea shanty singers braved the weather for their spot on the jetty, contending with wind and sea spray for their show, which they insisted must go ahead outdoors.

Jo said: “Hurricane Bertha had a bit of a bite at us and there were a few flying gazebos on Friday night into Saturday, which took a few people by surprise, but everyone battened down the hatches and carried on enjoying themselves. The brilliant community spirit with everyone supporting each other is very much evident again, and the festival has a strong feel-good factor.”

Highlight performances for the opening weekend included shows by BBC Folk Award winner and Mercury Prize nominee Seth Lakeman and Bella Hardy, who is this year’s BBC Folk Singer of the Year.

The festival team, who are working very closely with Kent Police and Thanet council, thanked all the performers, visitors and other businesses and organisations around the town that are making Folk Week a success. And Jo revealed that plans are advanced and discussions under way with performers for the 50th anniversary celebration next summer.

See this week's Thanet Extra for a picture feature special

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