Leigh Folk Arts announces three-day ‘The Garden Gatherings’ event for September

Leigh Folk Arts, the charity behind the UK’s largest free folk festival, is gearing up to host three days of entertainment, set within the picturesque Leigh Library Gardens over the weekend of 3-5 September, as an alternative to its annual event.

Three ‘garden gatherings’ will take place over the weekend, with ticketed events on Friday 3 and Saturday 4 to raise funds for Leigh Folk Arts followed by a free-to-all community music and arts festival on Sunday 5 September. 

The two ticketed events will consist of an evening of side-splitting comedy to open on Friday 3, followed by a specially curated afternoon of music on Saturday 4 September.

On the final day, Sunday 5, a full day of free live music and arts will include music, children’s entertainment, street theatre, food stalls, community art workshops, wellness activities, spoken word, dancing, and a boutique market.

Last year, during the first UK lockdown, Leigh Folk Arts organised the Front Room Folk Festival, a two-day online event with more than 55 exclusively curated performances over 21 hours – gathering more than 65,000 views.

More than a year on, the realities of organising a free multi-day, multi-discipline, multi-venue festival for thousands of people remains a challenge for the volunteers behind the annual event – but rather than just cancel, the team reimagined an alternative event for the 2021 Southend events calendar. 

Neil Harding, Leigh Folk Arts Chairman, said: 

“Leigh Folk Festival has been part of Southend’s summer events for nearly 30 years, and while Leigh Folk Festival in its traditional format is not viable for our voluntary team of organisers this year, we’re proud to be putting forward three jam-packed alternative events, collectively dubbed The Garden Gatherings.

We have a long history of creating fun community events that embrace our ethos of a broad church approach to folk music and have incorporated street performance, spoken word, comedy, children’s activities, storytelling, film and more in our history.

In a year where we’ve been physically apart and the creative industries decimated, we can’t wait to bring people back #TogetherAgain.”

Funds raised from the two ticketed events will go back to the charity, and into organising future events like the annual Leigh Folk Festival, which in 2022 will celebrate its 30th anniversary on the 23-26 June. 

Line up announcements and ticket details will follow in the coming weeks – mark the date in the diary!

Sign-up to the Leigh Folk Arts mailing list for future updates and line-up announcements. 

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