Folk Camps Party Band

The Folk Camps Party Band received startup funding from Folk Camps. Members are mostly Folk campers, and the band represents a part of our summer Folk Camps offering.

The band was set up in response to Folk Camps Council’s request in 2017 for projects that would fulfil the charitable aims of Folk Camps (to preserve and promote traditional music, song and dance). The idea of the band was to promote Folk Camps to the festival going public as well as to educate and encourage a new generation of Folk Camp musicians.


2024 is looking very exciting, with bookings already for Sidmouth Festival and also an immediate return (3 years in a row!) to Towersey Festival. Other possibilities are still being discussed.

The current 2024 dates are:

  • Season warm-up Ceilidh on 18th May in Byfield
  • Ceilidh on 27th July
  • Sidmouth Festival   Aug 2nd – 9th   (Party Band have gigs between 3rd-7th) 
  • Towersey Festival Aug 23rd – 27th
  • Knees Up Ceilidh at Cecil Sharp House in Camden, London Oct 18th

The Party Band continues to work to promote Folk Camps amongst the festival going public and the wider folk world in general. However as the band is no longer supported financially by Folk Camps we are looking to new ways of funding the project.

If you like what we do please consider becoming a regular subscriber… without help we cannot continue to spread the joy! We are so sorry to have to ask but the costs of running such a big band are staggering.



Sat 6th May Coronation Ceilidh Byfield Village Hall nr Daventry. As part of the band’s rehearsal weekend the band put on a fundraising ceilidh – this was the only non-festival appearance in the year.

Sunday 28th May 2023 Chippenham festival 50th Anniversary Ceilidh with callers Fee Lock, Gordon Potts, Phil Basindale and Nick Walden!

Friday 28th July 2023 Cambridge Folk Festival ( Evening Ceilidh)

Friday 25th – Monday 28th August 2023 Towersey Folk Festival (several appearances)

  • Big Band Workshops – Venue 65 (Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday)
  • Concert – The Big Club (Friday)
  • Ceilidh – Festival Dance House (Sunday)


The Party Band’s programme for 2022 included the following events.

At each festival they performed at ceilidhs and also provided music workshops that were very well-received.

  • April 15 : Knees Up Ceilidh – Cecil Sharp House London
  • May 27: Chippenham Folk Festival
  • July 8 – 10: New Forest Festival
  • August 25 – 29: Towersey Festival
  • September 8th – 11th: Bromyard Folk Festival

What is the Folk Camps Party Band?

Putting Folk Camps firmly on the folk festival map, the Folk Camps Party Band is an exciting multi-ability multi-age ceilidh band drawn from all parts of the Folk Camps spectrum that attends several festivals a year to show off the essence of Folk Camps.

The band was a special project, with financial backing from Folk Camps agreed back in 2018, when the world (and our financial position) was very different to that since the pandemic.

The first festival performance was at Chippenham May 2018 and they went down a storm! people danced, listened happily, and talked to us about Folk Camps, as you can see from the video above.

The festival public experience first-hand the fun that can be shared across generations and abilities in making distinctive music together that is both musically satisfying and good to dance to.

The band participants, as well as having fun, have a first rate educational experience which helps to develop the skills needed to make great potential folk camp musicians for the future.

The specially arranged repertoire is drawn from the English folk tradition as well as other traditions which have been absorbed into the English standard repertoire.

The band is the brainchild of Jenny Newman who also leads the project.

The band concept, particularly its multi-generational character, has received an overwhelmingly positive response from festival organisers leading to bookings from major folk festivals from May 2018 until well into 2021 with more in the pipeline.

“Just about the most exciting ceilidh band to arrive on the folk festival circuit this year! We need MORE!”
Fee Lock Caller

The Story So Far

This PDF file describes the impact of the Party Band in 2019, and some of what was then planned (before the pandemic affected what could be done).

Band Selection and Recruitment

The band includes a wide range of young (and not so young) Folk Campers producing a balanced band of around seventeen players (up to five of which will be professional musicians).  From time to time, as places become available, the opportunity to join the band will be advertised to all Folk Campers.  Despite the considerable commitment required from participants there was no shortage of good candidates in response to the appeal for young recruits for 2019.

See this recruitment letter (PDF) and this video for the recruitment into the band for 2020:

Gigs of 2021

The covid-19 crisis led to the cancellation of the entire 2020 programme and all the 2021 in person events.

A second year of cancelled festivals reduced the Party Band programme to a single online event. Here are the details along with a list of the cancelled gigs:

Chester and Chippenham 2021

A joint initiative by the normally simultaneous Chester and Chippenham Folk Festivals requested that the Party Band play for one of just three dance slots in their Online Festival 2021.

The band played for the Saturday night Ceilidh with Ace caller Fee Lock.

New Forest 2021
Cambridge 2021
Towersey 2021

Friday night headline ceilidh and two workshops.

Bromyard 2021

Saturday night headline ceilidh and workshops.

Gigs of 2020

For the 2020 season the Party Band had secured even bigger events and slots combined with Folk Camps style workshops. But the Covid-19 pandemic led to all the Party Band gigs of 2020 being cancelled. All the organisers asked the band back for their 2021 events. Here is a list of the gigs that had been booked:

Chippenham 2020

Saturday night headline ceilidh normally attracting a crowd of between 700 and 1000 people.

New Forest 2020
Cambridge 2020
Towersey 2020

Friday night headline ceilidh and two workshops.

Bromyard 2020

Saturday night headline ceilidh and workshops.

The band produced this Lock Down Video for the virtual festivals that replaced the festivals in summer 2020.

Gigs of 2019

Chippenham Folk Festival 2019

A repeat of 2018’s incredible debut!  The band performed at the Lunchtime Ceilidh in the Market Square on Saturday 25th May.  More details of the festival here.

Gate to Southwell Festival 2019

An innovative roots and acoustic music event in the charming market town of Southwell in Nottinghamshire between 6th and 9th June. The Band performed on Saturday 8th as well as running children’s workshops. More details of the festival here.

Knees Up Cecil Sharp Ceilidh

This prestigious circuit ceilidh was a new departure for the Party Band.  It  was on 21st June.

Towersey Festival 2019

The Party Band played for the Opening Ceilidh on Friday 23rd August at this renowned festival. The Band also ran large Folk Camps style workshops on Saturday and Sunday lunchtimes during the festival in the large marquee – much bigger than a Folk Camps marquee or workshop!

Bromyard Folk Festival 2019

The Party Band performed for the Opening Ceilidh on Thursday 5th September.  Bromyard started in 1968 and is now a major event in the shadow of the Malvern Hills in Worcestershire.  See the festival website.

Gigs of 2018

Chippenham Folk Festival 2018

The Party Band performed for the first time at the Lunchtime Ceilidh on Sunday 27th May.  The ceilidh was open to the public so this was a marvellous opportunity to show off what Folk Camps is about to a wide audience.

Towcester Midsummer Music 2018

The Party Band performed for the Friday Night Ceilidh in Towcester Town Hall as part of the Midsummer Music festival.  They were invited to return in 2019.

Folk Camps 50th Birthday Celebration 2018

The Party Band played at the Folk Camps August bank holiday camp at Fowlmere where we celebrated 50 years of Folk Camps.

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