Cambridge Folk Festival returns this year from 28 – 31 July 2022, after approximately 1,088 long days of life without it. Yes, we were counting. With a line-up true to diversity-championing form, the Festival looks set to maintain its longstanding reputation as Europe’s best for folk music (and all its friends and associates – there’ll be roof-raising fiddle-playing, but also americana, blues, roots, indie and every creative definition of ‘folk’ in between). Returning in three-dimensional real-life for the first time since summer 2019, we’re ready to dive headfirst into sun-filled hazy days of wandering the Festival’s suburban park in Cambridge in a state of permanent delight.
In case it’s not clear already, we should state early on that if you’re looking for caution, scepticism or really any sense of measured discernment at all about Cambridge Folk Festival… you won’t find it here. With the Festival holding position as a regular highlight of the For Folk’s Sake calendar, we know the drill and we’re banking on there being just as much magic in un-programmed pop-up performances in the bar as there will be in Stage 1’s sets from headliners Passenger, St Paul & The Broken Bones, Suzanne Vega and Gipsy Kings.
Early predictions are that many happy hours will be spent in The Den, where the Festival’s core commitment to fostering young and emerging talent can be marvelled at in the environs of a dimly lit and softly furnished marquee. Sourcing a cushion and a good view of the stage can see you comfortably through whole afternoons as potential future Festival headliners step up. Following what’s becoming a well-trodden path, Passenger had his debut in The Den in 2011, and returns this year to Stage 1. From delicate singer-songwriters in Bess Atwell and Pearl Fish to instrumental duo Moore & Moss, the cosy confines of The Den offer a relaxed small-scale experience for artist and audience alike.
Over at the Club Tent and Stage 2 we’re looking forward to sets from Billie Marten (whose song ‘La Lune’ you might recognise from the 2020 TV adaptation of Normal People), crunchy three-part acapella harmonies from The Young’uns, and songs of second chances from Samantha Crain, who recently supported The Staves on their Good Woman tour of the UK.
Spell Songs are a folk super-ensemble (Karine Polwart, Julie Fowlis, Seckou Keita, Kris Drever, Rachel Newton, Beth Porter and Jim Molyneux) bringing their enchanting combination of music and literature to give voice to Cambridge writer Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris’s spectacularly popular nature language books, The Lost Words and The Lost Spells.
There’ll be Gaelic serenading (Julie Fowlis), politically-provoked crooning (Beans on Toast) and Welsh soul-hip-hop (The Honest Poet), and much more besides – we’ve not even begun to mention the workshops and activities and, importantly, food vans, at what has to be one of this island’s friendliest music festivals.
At the time of writing, day tickets and full weekend tickets are still available along with a variety of camping and concessions options.
Words: Angeline Liles