The FolkEast Tug of War - photo credit: John Heald
Photo credit: John Heald

FolkEast Facts

Everything you ever wanted to know about FolkEast, Suffolk's finest folk festival, and so much more. All the facts, even when they sound like fiction.

FolkEast Festival Logo
Tradfolk is delighted to be heading to FolkEast this year as official media partners. This article is part of a series of articles that we'll be producing in the run-up to, and during, the 2022 events.

How long has FolkEast been running?

It’s a good job you asked. FolkEast turns 10 in 2022, so mark your calendar and be ready to give them the bumps. It’s gonna be a do. The festival originally began during the August Bank Holiday weekend, 2012, when the artists included Bellowhead, the Imagined Village, the Eliza Carthy Band, Seth Lakeman, Lau, Spiro… as the saying goes, “go big or go home”. Actually, that’s probably not the best phrase. The organisers, John and Becky Marshall-Potter, almost had no home to go to after that first event. They had to sell their house in order to pay the artists.

Cripes, that sounds drastic!

Yep, but they were determined to keep going. They also run the Blaxhall Sessions near their rented farmhouse. Folk music is their life.

Should we be worried about them?

Who can say? Folk music is an obsession with no cure.

No, I mean financially.

Oh, no… they appear to be fine. Apparently, FolkEast broke even in 2015 and things seem to be on track.

Is FolkEast a big festival, then?

It’s perfectly proportioned, thank you very much. It currently welcomes around 3,500 visitors per day, although John – who had previously worked on big events, including Knebworth Festival – says he’d like to grow it and then cap it at 6,500 so that it retains its personal feel. This year it will have four main stages, as well as all the usual workshops, eateries, camping and shenanigans.

Where does FolkEast take place?

Following the initial year, Becky and John moved it to the grounds of Glenham Hall, a stately home in Suffolk. Here’s a Google Map to make life easier for you.

Thanks! Let me ask you, though – what makes FolkEast stand out?

That’s a very good question. Aside from the ale (they try and source the food and drink as locally as possible), it’s perhaps best known for its collaborations and its ‘firsts’. False Lights – that band that Jim Moray and Sam Carter are in – had their first-ever gig at FolkEast. Legend has it that they were booked before the band even got together.

That is fast.

These people are no slouches. They also put Peter Knight and John Spiers together for the first time, and look what they’ve become.

My word. What else?

Well, while we’re on the subject of John Spiers, you might want to keep an eye open for Gardeners Cornered.

Why has he cornered the gardeners? Were they Tories?

Don’t worry. It’s nothing like that. You know that shed of his?

The one from his Isolation Pub Sessions?

The very same.

Go on…

Well, it turns out he doesn’t just grow melodeons in there. He also does horticultural things. He’s pretty green-fingered. Gardeners Cornered is John “Squeezy” Spiers and Steve Coghill, former head gardener at Glenham Hall, answering all of your gardening questions.

What if I don’t have any?

Then you’d be better off joining a girt, dipping your dwile and seeing what you can get out of a jobanowl.

I absolutely beg your pardon?

Cool your boots, man. We’re talking Dwile Flonking. After all, FolkEast is one of the few remaining places you can see this bizarre English tradition in action.

Sweet lord, that sounds lairy. Is there anything more wholesome for me?

This isn’t Chelsea Flower Show, you know.

I know! But at least they don’t corner their gardeners.

OK, so there’s also a massive tug of war, wall climbing, fireside singalongs at midnight, a selection of ceilidhs, an attempt to break the world record for the most Morris dancers in a shed at once, a place for grumpy people to get it all off their chest and set the world to rights, and the very real possibility that you might get pranked in some way by the Young’uns.

It sounds like a madcap version of some of the village fairs I’ve heard about from bygone times, only bigger and with added Young’uns.

That’s exactly what it’s like.

OK. I’m in. Where can I get tickets to FolkEast?

You can get your day tickets, your weekend tickets and your camping tickets from the FolkEast website. Click the button below, and “let’s go t’gither!”