Manchester Folk Festival 2021

Part of our Music guide

Johnny James, Managing Editor
Manchester Folk Festival
Spiers & Boden

Manchester Folk Festival at HOME Manchester, Manchester, 21–23 October 2021 - Book now

The annual Manchester Folk Festival is back with a joyous celebration of the best in English folk, spanning some of the city’s favourite venues.

With its roots in the traditions of the past but its eyes keenly on the future, 2021’s three-day Manchester Folk Festival will present the work of exciting emerging artists alongside that of household names. Featuring both large scale and intimate gigs in the heart of the city, HOME, as usual, will be the Festival’s hub, with The Ritz, Royal Northern College of Music, International Anthony Burgess Foundation, Peveril of the Peak and The Briton’s Protection also playing a part in the proceedings.

Highlights of this year’s line-up include Spiers & Boden (described by The Guardian as “the finest instrumental duo on the traditional scene”) and Peter Knight’s Gigspanner Big Band – a now-six-piece act whose high-energy, virtuosic performances appeal equally to traditionalists and to those looking for something more experimental. New four-piece supergroup The English Fiddle Ensemble are also a must-watch, alongside Kathryn Tickell & The Darkening, who invoke the powerful, shamanic sounds of ancient Northumbria.

This year’s Festival also boasts a number of acclaimed singer-songwriters. Luke Concannon, credited with being one of Ed Sheeran’s main inspirations, will perform his first show in three years at HOME, while musicians’ musician Jesca Hoop will bring her intricately detailed, acoustic-led live show to RNCM, supported by rising stars The Magpies. Lady Nade and Sam Carter are also well worth checking out at International Anthony Burgess Foundation (a new venue for the Festival), while much-loved Yorkshire folk duo O’Hooley & Tidow perform at HOME.

Bringing a different flavour is ex I Am Kloot’s John Bramwell & The Full Harmonic Convergence, as well as a special acoustic/acappella show from post-punk Sunderland quartet The Futureheads. And always high on our list is the award-winning Manchester-based The Breath, featuring the irrepressible Armagh-born singer/flautist Ríoghnach Connolly.

This year’s international partner is Hungary, meaning that in addition to all of the great acts from the UK, you can also watch performances by a number of international musicians, including Muzsikás, Pengetős Trió, Ötödik Évszak and Dalinda. Culture-bridging collective Kabantu will also appear live, alongside quintet Sheelanagig, who’ll present a selection of traditional and original European folk music dating from medieval times to the present day.

In addition to all of this, the Festival will also be hosting English Folk Expo’s 2021 Showcase, welcoming music industry representatives from the UK and across the world for a day of sharing and learning.

To view Manchester Folk Festival’s full programme, click the button below.

Manchester Folk Festival at HOME Manchester, Manchester

21–23 October 2021