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A Morris dancer's feet dance near a pint and pewter tankard of ale

The UK’s longest-running folk festival?

The Inter-Varsity Folk Dance Festival returns to Sheffield for the 10th time this weekend (Feb 25th-27th), for what the organisers says is the UK's longest-running folk festival.

Forget Sidmouth, forget Cambridge – the organisers of the Inter-Varsity Folk Dance Festival claim that their event is the UK’s longest-running folk festival. It has been running since 1951, and if you haven’t heard about it before, perhaps that’s because it rarely stays in one place.

Case in point: this weekend’s event takes place in Sheffield for the 10th time since it began in Leeds 71 years ago. The last time it hit (a) town, it was in Bristol for the third time for an online-only pandemic get-together. It has been in Exeter seven times. Currently, Sheffield holds the record.

As the name suggests, the Inter-Varsity Folk Dance Festival is organised by folk societies at various universities up and down the British Isles. It is usually attended by students and alumni, but anyone is welcome to pitch up. This year’s organisers are expecting hundreds of Morris dancers from all corners of the country.

What’s on?


The festival is predominantly focused on traditional dance, with occasional stand-alone performances from musicians. This year, the featured musicians include Hekety, Powerhouse, the Rheingans Sisters, Bearded Dragons, and Fourth Road.

Morris Tour

At the heart of the festival is the Morris Tour, which features dances from multiple sides demonstrating different styles around the city. This year will see dance outs from:

  • Five Rivers Morris (Sheffield – pictured above)
  • Silkstone Greens (Barnsley)
  • Sheffield City Morris (Sheffield)
  • Pecsaetan Morris (Sheffield)
  • Handsworth Sword Dancers (Sheffield)
  • Lord Conyers Morris Men (Sheffield)
  • Brighton Morris (Brighton)
  • Sutton Masque (Ely)
  • Fools Gambit Morris (National)
  • Border Reivers Morris (Glasgow)
  • Black Gate Morris (Newcastle)

You’ll find the dancers by using this map, created by the organisers.

For a full programme for workshops and performances at the UK’s longest-running folk festival, as well as tickets, head to the IVFDF website.