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The National Folk Festival gears up for another huge year

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There’s something about autumn in Canberra that sees our city come alive, rather than slow down, for the cooler months ahead.

The Christmas break and school holiday period are behind us, but Canberra’s events calendar ramps up as we experience the Canberra Comedy Festival, The Forage, Groovin the Moo and the Canberra International Music Festival—and we’re not slowing down just yet!

One of the largest events in Canberra and the longest running folk festival in Australia, the National Folk Festival, draws over 50,000 people through its gates each year over the Easter long weekend. Exhibition Park in Canberra (EPIC) is transformed into bustling world of its own with themed bars, food and market stalls, roving performers plus 20 venues showcasing some of the most highly regarded—national and international—folk, bluegrass, indie, acoustic, trad, world, country, roots, blues and Celtic musicians.

Wandering the grounds, you’ll also experience dance, street theatre, masterclasses plus an impressive, dedicated kids program. View the full program here.

Honouring a time when the National was a travelling Festival—first held in Melbourne in 1967 and calling Canberra it’s home since 1992—clever programming now sees feature states weaved throughout in a tradition that enables seasoned festival-goers and newbies alike to experience something truly unique each year, whilst offering performance opportunities to a huge number of local artists.

With more than 750 shows across the five-day festival, Canberra talent includes Andrew Galan, East Row Rabble, Guyy and the Fox, Electric Tommy Johnston, Jumptown Swing, Sparrow Folk, Zackerbilks plus many more.

The National Folk Festival’s 53rd year will continue its tradition of championing homegrown talent with many Australian artists joining the lineup, from award-winning country singer, Fanny Lumsden to bottleneck slide guitarist, Anna Scionti and Lloyd Spiegel (recently named one of our top guitarists of all time by Australian Guitar Magazine) to Shortis and Simpson; contemporary folk-pop trio Little Quirks; Redgum’s John Schumann, Goanna Band’s Shane Howard and The Red Rockin’ Dirt Band drawing on the politically charged folk roots of the 70’s and 80’s.

Photo: Photox – Canberra Photography Services.

The National is also bringing some really incredible international artists out for this year’s Festival including John John Festival (Japan), Mànran (Scotland), Melisande [electrotrad] (Canada) and Grammy Award-nominated group Kittel and Co. (USA).

In 2019, our very own ACT (alongside WA) will be featured. We caught up with Donal Baylor—¼ of Canberra’s Black Mountain String Band—for a quick chat about this year’s Festival.

Why is BMSB excited to be included on the National Folk Festival’s 2019 line up?

We’re very excited to be part of the 2019 National Folk Festival. To us, it is the premier event – a combination of quality venues and infrastructure, high levels of organisation and finished off with the great experience of playing to discerning audiences make this festival a pleasure to be part of.

The Black Mountain String Band. Image via Facebook.

Who are you excited to see perform?

I’ll be drawn to the April Verch Band. The festival has a great record of featuring high end fiddle players and April is certainly that, as well as being a very exuberant performer. I’m also looking forward to seeing Whoa Mule, who are very creative within a solid foundation of string band music.

Have you played the National Folk Festival Before?

Yes many, many times! I have a real soft spot for the National where, as a teenager, I first saw live bluegrass at the 1979 National held at La Trobe University in Melbourne and it changed my life! I played at the Festival for the first time as part of the Dancehall Racketeers in 1986 at the same location. Since 1994 I haven’t missed one!

Multiple ticketing options for the whole family can be found here. With something truly for everyone at the National Folk Festival, it is easy to see why it is the longest running event of its kind and Australia’s home and heart of folk.

the essentials

What: National Folk Festival
When: Thursday 18 April – Monday 22 April
Where: Exhibition Park in Canberra (EPIC)
Cost: multiple ticketing options here
Web: folkfestival.org.au

HerCanberra is a proud sponsor of the National Folk Festival 2019

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