WITH Glastonbury taking a fallow year, and more locally, Village Green doing the same, it's with even more eagerness that local music fans are looking forward to the Leigh Folk Festival this year.

It launches with what promises to be a stunning opening performance put on by the El Ray Club on Thursday June 21, finishing in the Old Town on Sunday June 24, and features big names on the folk and alternative scene, such as the Emily Askew Band (a collaboration between folk favourites Alasdair Roberts, Amble Skuse and David McGuinness), Thomas Truax with his steampunk instrument inventions, You Are Wolf led by renaissance woman Kerry Andrew, vintage psych-folksters Stone Angel, folk club favourites Mick Ryan and Paul Downes, the fine cello and violin duo Mein Haus from Berlin, long time Folk Festival favourites Stick in the Wheel, the wonderful French vocal trio Tartine de Clous, the massed ranks of the Maspindzeli London Georgian Choir... and that's only scratching the surface.

Now in its 27th year, the festival attracts up to 20,000 visitors over its regular weekend in late June, offering indoor and outdoor stages, dance arenas, diverse music, poetry, storytelling, children’s activities, food stalls and more.

Southend Standard: Thomas Truax

The event has steadily evolved and grown over its impressive period of existence, and has long been recognised as the largest free folk festival in the country.

The LFF artistic director Paul Collier, said: "There will be the usual huge array of music of all flavours across the weekend, along with the pageantry of the centrepiece procession through the Old Town on Sunday 25, once again led by the legendary Dagenham Girl Pipers.

"As ever there will be a plethora of dance displays in evidence, ranging from the traditional – morris, clog, rapper, to the contemporary – salsa, disco, belly-dancing, as well as poets, mummers, story-tellers, comedians, and more besides. And the festival vibe will be complete with a larger than ever range of craft and clothing stalls, foodie outlets and bars.

"As usual the music will encompass everything from the local to the international, the arch-traditional to the most ‘out there’ avant-folk, all spread across a huge array of indoor and outdoor venues, centred around Leigh Library Gardens and the Broadway area on Saturday 23, before moving down the hill to Leigh Old Town’s waterfront area for the Saturday night and Sunday 24."

Joining this year’s bill is the Mad King Ludwig and the Mojo Company; Mary Hampton; Doomed Bird of Providence; Men Diamler; Markers; Bird in the Belly; Said the Maiden; Trevor Moss and Hannah Lou and the perennial Diamond Family Archive.

Southend Standard: Stick in the Wheel

Paul said: "And as ever there will also be a gamut of local acts of all styles and shapes appearing, among them Digby Fairweather and Band, Famous Potatoes, Lucky Strikes, Tuppenny Bunters, Angel and the Melodyhorns, Arfur Doo and the Toe Rags, David Woodcock and the Fixtures, Daisy Bowlers, T Bitch, and a debut from new duo Masal.

"Mention should also be made of the Festival’s opening night event (Thursday 21) where the hugely popular El Rey Club relocates to Leigh Community Centre, and a collaboration with Southend YMCA and the LFF for the official launch concert of the fundraising CD A Place to Dwell, which features M.G. Boulter, Robert Sunday, Circle/Temple, Goodnight Crow and the great Alasdair Roberts. This is taking place on Friday 22, at Twenty One, Southend."

He added: "Apart from the three ticketed main feature performances, the Leigh Folk Festival continues to be a free, open event relying on a range of local and national sponsors to keep the show on the road, and most particularly public donations over the weekend. Many have commented that a typical ticketed festival on a similar scale would charge £150 plus for a weekend pass, so festival-goers are being asked to dig as deep as they can into their pockets when encountering one of the Festival’s army of tin rattlers, with every single pound collected counting toward another free festival in 2019 and beyond."

Southend Standard: Annies Fantasies.Leigh Folk Festival, Leigh-on-Sea.

For more information visit leighfolkfestival.com or facebook.com/leighfolkfestival

The Leigh Folk Festival takes place at:

Thursday June 22: Leigh Community Centre and St Clement’s Church, Leigh

Friday June 23: Twenty One, Southend, St Clement’s Church and other venues around Leigh

Saturday June 24: Library Gardens, St Clement’s Church, and venues around Leigh

Sunday June 25: Leigh Old Town