Programme

Note that the festival programme provided here is subject to change. We will announce the full programme with fixed times in the weeks leading up to May 11th. In the meantime, take a look at what we have on offer so far.

Scroll down for info on what’s happening and where at the Whitchurch Folk Festival.

Click on the image below to open the Programme Overview as a PDF that can be downloaded and saved.

Map of Whitchurch Folk Festival Venues

Whitchurch Folk Festival, 2024, will be held in the following venues. Scroll down to find out what’s going on in each.

  1. All Hallows Church: Concerts
  2. Methodist Church: Concerts
  3. Testbourne School Theatre: Concerts
  4. Baptist Church: Workshops and storytelling
  5. Kings Arms Beer Garden: Fringe Festival concerts
  6. Parish Hall: Workshops
  7. Testbourne School Sports Hall: Ceilidhs
  8. The White Hart: Music sessions
  9. The Bell: Singarounds
  10. Silk Mill Lawn: Maypole dancing, Morris Dancing
  11. Kudos Living Car Park: Morris Dancing, festival hub (stalls, etc)
  12. Town Hall: Welcome Centre (wristbands, help, directions, etc)

Concerts

For a full list of concerts, venues and times, please see our line-up page.

Workshops

Hanky Decorating

Venue: Whitchurch Baptist Church
Time: 9:15am (30 mins)
Price: Free
Age group: Ages 3 and up (children must be accompanied by an adult)

If you’re up and about early, then why not join us for this fun, creative Morris Hanky decorating session. Each child will be given a pair of hankies to decorate with their own design, before the chance to join in with some traditional promenade dancing with members of Mayfly Morris! After the session children can put their new found skills to the test as they wave their hankies and join in with the Jack in the Green Parade at lunchtime.

Jack in the Green Interactive Storytelling and Craft Workshops

Venue: Whitchurch Baptist Church
Time: 10:00 (2 hours)
Price: Free
Age group: Ages 3 and up (children must be accompanied by an adult)

Talking trees and a magical flute? Let the adventure begin! Join Amanda from Merry-go-Round Storytelling for an interactive story full of enchantment and wonder, and find out how we can learn from the whispers of the trees. Then join Lizzie to create your own leaf headdresses and masks to wear in the Jack in the Green Parade. There will also be a chance to help with the final touches of our wonderful Jack in the Green, who will be leading the parade.

The Folk Songs of Whitchurch 

Jackie Oates and Jon Wilks

Venue: Whitchurch Parish Hall
Time: 9:50am (50 mins)
Price: Free
Age group: Suitable for all ages

On May 28th, 1906, a local agricultural worker, Henry Lee, sang a selection of “the old songs” popularly sung here in Whitchurch. In the company of his daughters, he repeated the songs until the song collector, George Gardiner, had taken them down. Over a century later, they formed a significant part of the repertoire of our old friend, Paul Sartin. This workshop with Jackie Oates and Jon Wilks, is an opportunity to learn the Whitchurch versions of songs like “If I Was a Blackbird” and “The Wild Rover”, which are still sung regularly in the town to this day. For more information about the traditional songs collected in Whitchurch. For more information, see: Songs with a postcode: Whitchurch, Hampshire, and the songs of Henry Lee – Tradfolk

Maypole Dancing Workshop

Traditional maypole dancing at Whitchurch Silk Mill

Venue: Whitchurch Silk Mill Lawn
Time: 10:30am (90 mins)
Price: Free
Age group: Ages 8 and over

Join in with the fun and learn this well-loved ancient English ritual for welcoming in the Spring and celebrating new beginnings. What better way to mark the re-launch of a folk festival in the town? Originally people danced around trees and, as the tradition progressed, a Maypole was introduced. In keeping with another aspect of this English tradition, our workshop team includes a musician from the Whitchurch Morris side, Mayfly Morris. Children will listen to the tunes, learn the steps to the dance, and (after some practice) will have the opportunity to showcase what they have learnt.

Harmony Singing with Anna Tabbush

Venue: Whitchurch Baptist Church
Time: 11am (50 mins)
Price: Festival ticket holders only
Age group: 10+

Anna will be teaching some of her own a cappella compositions and arrangements in luscious harmony. The workshop will be taught by ear so no previous musical experience is necessary. Open to all ages and abilities.

Anna Tabbush is a choir director, songwriter and singer based in West Sussex. She started her first community choir at Kingston University while studying for a degree in music and technology. Since then, she has set up over 20 community choirs and conducted over 40 across the Southeast. Her songs are popular with choirs across Britain and around the world, including ‘Harbour‘. a song she wrote in 2020 in support of refugees fleeing the war in Syria. ‘Harbour’ has had over 20,000 downloads of the score and was recently featured on BBC comedy drama, Juice.

Political Songwriting with Maddie Morris

Venue: From Kudos Living Car Park to Whitchurch Silk Mill
Time: 4:30pm (50 mins)
Price: Festival ticket holders only
Age group: 14+

Maddie Morris will introduce a variety of lyric-writing techniques for political song. Participants will think about current events, their own lived experience and will use the tradition as a starting point for sharing their voice; thoughts, opinions and hopes for the future. The session will be facilitated in a relaxed capacity, and all activities will be optional, including sharing lyrics and performing, however there will be the opportunity to do this at the end of the session for those who would like. Open to all from absolute beginners to seasoned songwriters, and participants are welcome to bring instruments if desired.

Maddie Morris is an artist who strives to make a difference in the world. Bold, insightful and refreshingly unique, they take traditional song in new directions to shine a light on contemporary issues, offering new perspectives about the world we live in today. Described as aspiration-raising, Maddie’s workshops are an engaging and accessible opportunity to connect with folk and traditional music.

Southern Stepping Workshops

Venues: Whitchurch Silk Mill & Kudos Living Car Park
Times: 1.30pm at Kudos Living Car Park, 2.30pm at Silk Mill and 3.30pm at Kudos Living Car Park (30 mins)
Price: Free
Age group: All ages

Tom Gregory from Hampshire-based FolkActive will get you dancing in no time! This is a drop-in workshop to learn Southern Stepping; an informal, creative style of stepdancing. No experience or special footwear required; just come and have a go! The steps are based on very simple heel and toe combinations making it easy to get started, and every dancer looks different because the dancing is improvised and the informal style encourages individuality. FolkActive are passionate about sharing active, skilful and joyful engagement in the folk arts with everyone.

Mini Folk

Venue: Whitchurch Parish Hall
Time: 1:50pm (30 mins)
Price: Free
Age group: 4 and under (with parent or carer)

A 30 minute session for 0-4 years and their parents or carers. Come and sing some rare and beautiful traditional lullabies
and nursery song and some more familiar nursery rhymes with Jackie Oates and Jennie Bailey.

The tradition of singing lullabies exists in a great many cultures across the world and has been passed down from generation to generation. Singing to young children is known to be of great benefit towards restful sleep and strengthening the instinctive
bond between parent/carer and child. The rhythms and patterns of the songs encourage focused listening and coordination.

Drama Workshop

Venue: Whitchurch Parish Hall
Time: 3:00pm (1 hour)
Price: Free
Age group: 6-10

Immerse yourself in a Spring-themed session with Shoes on Theatre, a local children’s drama school who are delighted to be bringing some imaginative fun to the festival this year. Embark on a dramatic and creative adventure. Through storytelling and chances to perform, this workshop will be filled with fun high-energy activities for bright imaginations. No drama experience needed, just bring enthusiasm! Limited numbers, first come first served. 

Morris Dancing Workshop with Mayfly Morris

Venue: Whitchurch Baptist Church
Time: 4:45pm (1 hour)
Price: Free
Age group: 9-16 year olds

Join us for our lively Morris Dancing workshop for beginners, led by Mayfly Morris’s youth dancers. Learn some traditional dance moves, how to wave your hankies and tap your sticks in this fun, interactive group dance workshop.
An exciting introduction to this dynamic and energetic dance form. No experience or equipment needed.

Walk the Whitchurch Mill Trail on Sunday morning

Paul Sartin, Kitty Macfarlane and Jon Wilks walking the Circular Mill Trail, November 2019

Venue: The bridge in front of the Silk Mill
Time: Sunday, 10:30am (2 hours)
Price: Free
Age group: All ages

Those who are still around on Sunday morning are warmly invited to join members of Whitchurch ‘Walkers are Welcome’ to walk the Circular Mill Trail, following the River Test, a beautiful chalk stream of great wildlife diversity. In the past, a working mill was located along the River Test every half mile through the town; today all but one of the mills have been converted into private houses. This lovely walk has been experienced by visiting artists to the Whitchurch Folk Club, including Martin Simpson and Kitty Macfarlane. The walk is around 2 hours. Walking boots are recommended.

Morris Dancing

You’ll be able to see some of the region’s best Morris dancers strutting their stuff here in Whitchurch at the following times and places. Note that the displays starting at 1pm will vary across two different locations:

  • 11:15am – Midday: Kudos Living car park
  • 1pm – 4pm: Kudos Living car park
  • 1pm – 4pm: Silk Mill front lawn

The Morris sides that will be dancing for us are…

Bampton Morris

The Bampton Morris dancers, through their centuries-old tradition, embody a tangible connection to England’s rich cultural tapestry. With an uninterrupted lineage of performances dating back around 400 years, these individuals are more than performers; they are custodians of heritage and tradition. According to folk historian Steve Roud, what sets them apart is not just the continuity of their art but the unique, unhurried style with which they execute dances that have been passed down through generations. As friends of Paul Sartin, who believed them to be the best Morris dancers in England, we have welcomed them to Whitchurch many times, and we look forward to doing so again.

Boss Morris

Boss Morris, celebrated for their progressive Morris style, have played a significant role in revitalising Morris dancing. Their memorable performance with Wet Leg at the 2023 Brit Awards, and their countless appearance in glossy magazines over recent years, highlights their influence. Led by the talented folk artist Alex Merry, designer of the Whitchurch Folk Festival logo, Boss Morris continue to captivate and inspire audiences. We last saw them in Whitchurch for the Paul Sartin Memorial Day in 2022, which prompted the launch of our own local Morris dancing side, Mayfly Morris (see below). We can’t wait to welcome them back.

Mayfly Morris

Whitchurch’s very own Mayfly Morris first came together at the end of 2022, having found inspiration from the Boss Morris workshop at the Paul Sartin Memorial Day. Welcoming all genders and age groups, they dance on Monday nights at Bere Mill and had their first official dance-out at All Hallows Church in July, 2023. As important to Whitchurch’s folk traditions as the local Folk Club is, we’re incredibly excited to see them dancing here at Whitchurch Folk Festival this year… and for many more years to come.

See also: Mayfly Morris Dancing Workshop

Winchester Morris Men

Founded on March 11, 1953, at Winchester’s Eclipse Inn, the Winchester Morris Men embody the Cotswolds’ nineteenth-century Morris dancing traditions. Celebrating one of England’s oldest rural traditions, said to be linked to spring and crop fertility, today’s dancers are driven by enjoyment rather than mystical beliefs. They regularly dance both historical and newly devised dances around Hampshire and beyond, honoring the past while embracing the present. A superb side, we’re delighted to have them here at our festival.

Jack in the Green Parade

A traditional Jack in the Green Parade in Hastings

Venue: From Kudos Living Car Park to Whitchurch Silk Mill
Time: Midday (15 mins)
Price: Free
Age group: All ages; children must be accompanied by an adult

Combining the craft and maypole workshops from the morning, this parade will follow the Jack in the Green from the Festival Hub (Kudos Living) to Whitchurch Silk Mill. Follow the Jack and the Morris Dancers before ending up on the Silk Mill Lawn for a festival of traditional dance.

Ceilidhs

For more information on the ceilidhs we have planned for you, head to the Testbourne School Theatre section of the line-up page.

Fringe Festival

For more information on the Fringe Festival, head to our Fringe Festival page.

Sessions & Singarounds

What’s a folk festival without tunes sessions and singarounds? We’ll be running singarounds and Paul Sartin’s old local, The Bell, where he could often be found breaking into impromptu song. Tune sessions will be in the bar at the White Hart. All singarounds and sessions will run from 5pm and 7pm, and then again between 10pm and closing time. All welcome (age restrictions apply). First come, first served!