Jingle Bells

Things are always a little different in Chippenham during our late Spring Bank Holiday weekend. There's the sounds from a multitude of bells, stomping feet, accordions, drums, fiddles and the odd banjo. We're invaded by 20 or so Morris dancing sides, folk dance troups and clog dancers, folk bands and singers, clowns and story tellers. All gathering this year for the 37th Chippenham Folk Festival.

Temporary camp sites spring up overnight, similar in fashion to The Quidditch World Cup in Harry Potter. People arrive in multi-coloured attire often with a musical instrument slung over their shoulder. Whole families roam the streets with brightly coloured festival passes round their necks. It's a very different weekend to the other 51 of the year!

There's dancing in the streets, parks and almost every other public building and space in the centre of town. Open mic sessions are held in pubs, there's almost every possible folk music, song and dance workshop you can think of, plus more Ceilidhs than you can shake a stick at, including the famous Aqueilidh - folk dancing in our swimming pool.

It's a most colourful sight, but under threat as last year's bad weather led to the festival losing money. A good year is needed this year to keep the festival going. Saturday's weather was perfect, but I suspect the indifferent weather yesterday and today's atrocious wind and rain does not bode well for the future.

But we don't know that for sure yet, so let's celebrate this year's festival with my Photo essay from Saturday morning's sunny High Street:

Chippenham's own Hips 'n Haws - it's not all hankie waving though...

...Sticks may also be wielded - watch out for those splinters!
Morris dancing dates back to the 15th Century and was influenced by the Moorish style of dancing. Some dance sides choose to wear make-up to reflect this - the sunglasses are a more modern touch though
Waiting his turn - 4 dance stations along the High Street with 3 dance sides per station. Plus two stages in Monkton Park. Then there's all the pubs and other indoor venues...

Let's hear it for the band...

Another form of traditional Morris dress...
Fancy footwork - clog dancing this time. Whilst I was there In Step performed dances they'd collected from canals and Northumbria

Self portrait in Chippenham's answer to Diagon Alley

All good things must come to an end


  1. What fun - I love watching Morris Dancers

  2. This looks like so much fun! With all the shows you've gotten to attend lately, how have you had time to garden?? Your allotment plot looks great to me; if it doesn't pass this time, you must have a bunch of picky fuddy-duddy inspectors.

  3. That looks like a lot of fun. Local colour's such a good thing.

  4. That looks like a great time! I like Morris dancing, although it is not something seen in the streets here. The costumes are so colorful & the event looks so lively, I hope they continue the tradition.

  5. Karen - so do I

    Rose - it's hard I know, but a girl's gotta try!

    Simon - thought you'd like it

    MMD - looks like it's another loss :( as we had another Bank Holiday Washout on the Monday.


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