A global celebration of dance, culture and song will be a hit

Nkrabea Dance from Ghana at last year's Alnwick International Music Festival. Picture by Jane Coltman
Nkrabea Dance from Ghana at last year's Alnwick International Music Festival. Picture by Jane Coltman

The much-loved Alnwick International Music Festival returns to the town at the end of the month, with a cultural feast of song and dance from around the world.

The popular event – now in its 41st year – will showcase the musical traditions and heritage of countries such as Ukraine, China, Japan, Ireland, Scotland, Africa, Mauritius and the USA.

Artists from closer to home, including Northumberland, will also perform during the eight-day extravaganza, as organisers look to balance the programme between international flavour and home-grown variety.

There are also a number of festival firsts this time round, including a jazz and blues night.

There will be the usual array of adult and children’s workshops and evening performances in Alnwick Playhouse. The festival starts on Saturday, July 30, and runs until Saturday, August 6.

Chairman Alan Symmonds said: “Once again Alnwick will resonate to eight days of creative musical talent reflecting the colourful diversity of the UK and wider world.

“The 41st festival is a response to audience voice by aiming to provide an ever-changing daily line up of artistes on the main stage in the Market Place.

“This year the music is very varied with a number of new ventures. The aim is to create more opportunities for community involvement and offer local and more international groups a share of the limelight.

“There are lots of artists performing their own original compositions and creating new traditions from firmly-based existing styles. The festival is all about involvement and each day will be different.”

Among those to feature at the event will be Newcastle-based band The Caffreys. The acoustic group, performing ‘rootsy rocky folky country pop’, have just appeared in BBC Four’s UK’s Best Part-Time Band Final.

A first for the music festival is the jazz and blues night which features a full line-up with the Lorna Reid Trio premiering. Lorna and her musicians have travelled extensively and have a repertoire ranging from easy listening to hot vintage swing.

The jazz night, on the Monday, will be at the Working Men’s Club. Tickets will be on sale from the festival information stall in the Market Place, with some availability on the door.

Another new event is the tea dance, which will be held in the Town Hall on the Tuesday from 4.30pm.

An additional strand this year is links with the spoken word. Local poets will perform works on the main stage and bring fans together on Tuesday evening for a poetry event.

Alnwick Playhouse will host two evening concerts, with a Celtic night on the Thursday and a Northumbrian session on the Friday. Both shows start at 7.30pm.

A craft fair takes place in the Market Place throughout the eight days of the festival, running from 10am to 5pm each day and featuring a range of items and goods. There will also be a series of workshops, including ukulele; drumming; Maypole and circle dance; and instruments from junk.

For more information about the music festival, visit www.alnwickmusicfestival.com