Morris dancers in colourful costumes performed at some of Oxford’s most famous landmarks, as a folk festival made a triumphant return to the city.

Folk Weekend Oxford returned to the city during the weekend (April 22 to 24) with its first in-person event since 2018.

The weekend presented a range of ticketed, and free, events for people to enjoy on Saturday and Sunday, including music sessions in pubs, Morris Dancing all over the city and a full programme of local acts.

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Oxford Mail: A choir performed at the opening ceremony. Picture: Ed Nix A choir performed at the opening ceremony. Picture: Ed Nix

Running since 2012, Folk Weekend Oxford is a community festival which was forced to go online with just a few weeks’ notice in 2020 because of the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.

On Friday, the festival kicked off with a series of free to watch acts at the Covered Market and in the café at the Old Fire Station. A range of performance styles were on show, from Irish whistle musician MillerFolk to queer singer Roary Skaista and harmony trio Three Idle Women.

In the evening, award winning folk guitarist Sam Carter took to the stage at Harwell Village Hall with support from Oxfordshire duo Wednesday's Wolves.

At the same time, multi-instrumentalist Nick Hart gigged at St Aldate's Tavern and Oxford University Ceilidh Band, an ensemble of the university’s best folk musicians, showcased tunes from Scottish and other Celtic nations.

Throughout the weekend Morris dancers could be seen performing outside famous sites such as Radcliffe Camera, the Ashmolean and Oxford Castle.

The combination of traditional dancing with brightly coloured costumes and jiggling bells saw huge crowds gather around the Morris performances.

On the first full day of the festival on Saturday, an opening ceremony took place at the Ashmolean.

At the ceremony Folk Weekend Oxford’s creator Cat McGill was presented with a British Empire Medal, which she was awarded in 2021, by the Lord-Lieutenant of Oxfordshire.

Oxford Mail: Morris dancers performed around Oxford. Picture: Ed Nix Morris dancers performed around Oxford. Picture: Ed Nix

A choir formed especially for the festival performed three songs at the ceremony and Morris dancing then took place.

The rest of Saturday and Sunday were packed full of folk music, with a huge range of gigs, music sessions, dances, choir shows and workshops for people to pick from.

A family folk event at the Pitt Rivers Museum aimed at primary school aged children and their families gave youngsters a chance to try out mini-piano accordions, bodhran drums, shruti boxes, and ugly sticks.

Oxford Mail: The festival returns after four years. Picture: Ed Nix The festival returns after four years. Picture: Ed Nix

At the Blue Room venue, Angeline Morrison showcased her tender, and often dark, stories through song on Saturday night.

Sunday saw an LGBT+ inclusive musical session at the Jolly Farmers in the afternoon, with a gig from Steph West and Paul Rademeyer the Blue Room in St Aldate’s Tavern closing the festival off.


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