FINAL preparations are being made ahead of the 'biggest and best' Middlewich Folk & Boat Festival as it makes a welcome return for its 30th anniversary.

The popular event is set to welcome music lovers from across the county this month after an enforced two-year absence due to the Covid pandemic.

Live music will be on tap at venues across the town throughout the weekend of June 16 to June 19.

A packed entertainment programme includes the return of a traditional parade along Wheelock Street on the Saturday where a colourful procession of community groups will work its way to the Bull Ring for music and dancing.

There will be music to enjoy on Market Field where the Main Stage will grace big names such as The Whole of the Moon band The Waterboys and a solo set by Gruff Rhys, front man for Super Furry Animals on Friday.

Saturday sees performances from Liverpool indie/rock band Cast and 90s indie stars The Boo Radleys.

Winsford Guardian: CastCast

A dedicated folk stage in the Victoria Hall, in Civic Way, will offer the very best in traditional and contemporary performers including The Oysterband, Mark Radcliffe’s band Fine Lines, The Gulls, Merry Hell and Chris Tavener, to name but a few.

The festival is being organised by a working group including Middlewich town councillors and residents.

Cllr Jonathan Parry, who chairs the working group, said: “We wanted to make this 30th anniversary festival the biggest and best yet and it is looking that way.

“Our best advice is to keep checking the website and social media as we continue to add to the programme daily.

“With just a few weeks to go, we couldn’t be more excited at the response. We expect big influx of festival-goers keen to enjoy a party atmosphere. After the past two years we aim to give them just that.”

Music will be playing at festival fringe locations including The Boars Head, Big Lock, Cheshire Cheese, Kings Lock, White Bear, The Turnpike, The Middlewich Wharf, The Narrowboat, The Newton Brewery and The Kinderton.

There will also be a festival sessions live music tent hosted by Mack’s Music located on the Salinae.

Many gigs will be free over the weekend, including the Market Field all day on Sunday, but where ticketed, money raised will help cover costs and ensure the future of the festival which does so much to showcase Middlewich as a picturesque town with a friendly welcome. 

Winsford Guardian: Mike Scott of The Waterboys (Paul Mac Manus)Mike Scott of The Waterboys (Paul Mac Manus) Both tickets to see performers on the Main Stage and Folk Stage are selling well, including a newly-launched All Weekend Access ticket so festival-goers can enjoy unlimited gigs.

Sunday highlights include a free evening concert by Henge, playing electronic crossover rock and a variety of support acts including Buzzard, Buzzard, Buzzard & Simon & Oscar from Ocean Colour Scene

Meanwhile organisers at Middlewich Town Council have received numerous enquiries from boat owners keen to join a floating market stretching from Kings Lock to Big Lock and stall-holders heading to Wheelock Street to sell artisan food and crafts.

Middlewich resident Liz Rosenfield, who is organising the folk element this year, said: “Well-known names and rising stars have been delighted to perform at Middlewich, so strong is the festival’s reputation.

“We have some fantastic artists and bands joining us for performances on the folk stage, fringe as well as in the festival sessions live music tent on the Salinae and Boars Head, home to Cheshire Folk Club.”

McCarthy Stone, a leading retirement housebuilder, is backing the festival as the main sponsor and several local businesses including Secure Dog Exercise Areas, Andersen Boats, All Your Appliances, ROK Plumbing Supplies and Blain Boland Solicitors have championed the festival by joining the business support scheme.

For more information on the festival programme, its ticketed events and host of free attractions see social media or head to the website middlewichfabfestival.co.uk

Image Caption – Festival organisers seen outside fringe venue The Kings Lock raise a glass to the return of The Middlewich Folk and Boat Festival.