Following a stunning weekend in glorious sunshine, Cambridge Folk Festival draws to a close after four days of incredible music at Cherry Hinton Hall. Sold out crowds flocked to the picturesque site for the 54th annual Festival, to witness masterclass performances from legendary artists and upcoming talent alike.
With the sun shining throughout the weekend, the bustling atmosphere across the site continued to live up to the Festival’s friendly, welcoming atmosphere, as fans of all ages gathered together to enjoy the very best in Folk, Blues, Country, Americana, Roots and beyond.
Bluegrass-fuelled Americana band Whisky Shivers opened the festivities on Thursday with their unique style of folk-country rock and the evening was brought to a stomping close by local rockers Swamptruck.
Friday’s line-up straddled the folk world and its global reach, with the likes of Yorkshire lass Eliza Carthy, Kiwi Marlon Williams (who was joined on stage for a song by First Aid Kit who had been watching his set from the pit), Mali’s Songhoy Blues, Aussie siblings The Pierce Brothers, American icons Peggy Seeger and Rosanne Cash and Swedish sisters First Aid Kit performing. Rounding the night off with a funky set were Alabama boys St Paul & The Broken Bones.
Grammy Award winner and 2018 Cambridge Folk Festival curator Rhiannon Giddens performed multiple sets over the weekend. This included a surprise acoustic showcase on the second stage, before blowing the crowd away on Saturday night with her full band warming the tent up for headliner Patti Smith (watched by Sunday headliner John Prine who was celebrating his wife’s birthday on site), playing tracks from across her illustrious career. Earlier in the day, the beautiful vocal harmonies of fan favourites Darlingside (who played the twin festival in Newport) saw them play a mesmerising set for their triumphant return to Cambridge. Blues singer-songwriter Eric Bibb, Irish Mythen, The East Pointers and Elephant Sessions were also stand outs of the day. After the main arena’s entertainment wound down, hundreds flocked to the silent ceilidh to dance away well into the early hours.
Sunday has been anything but a day of rest for music fans at Cambridge with Irish Mythen kicking off the main stage with an abundance of energy and craic. Kate Rusby & Friends (including Eddi Reader), Kaia Kater and Yola Carter have taken crowds wonderfully throughout the afternoon, with Darlingside delivering a stand out surprise performance in the main bar. Janis Ian, Peatbog Faeries, Damien O’Kane & Ron Block and John Prine are all set to round off what has been a folking great weekend!
Beyond the music, the site welcomed panel discussions on mental health, the women’s panel, strings workshop with members of The Shee, BBC Introducing sessions, juggling, painting and willow-weaving workshops as well as plenty of activities for kids. Of course, the bars and food stalls were popular in the heat with festivalgoers quenching their thirsts with local ales and top-quality local street food.
As with any good festival, secret sets featuring major artists meant the crowd were treated to intimate performances and this weekend didn’t disappoint. From Rhiannon Giddens to Darlingside and Grace Petrie, performers joined impromptu sets and happily mixed in with fans as they walked around the site enjoying the unique atmosphere of Cambridge Folk Festival.
Cambridge Live Operations Director Neil Jones commented: “Cambridge Folk Festival 2018 has been an overwhelming success. We have been blessed with some stunning weather and some truly memorable musical moments on and off stage. We have been so honoured to have had Rhiannon Giddens as our guest curator and her contributions have really helped to create the musical landscape of this year’s festival. We are already in talks with artists for 2019 so watch this space……”
For 2019 news and tickets, please keep your eyes peeled at www.cambridgelivetrust.co.uk