Nestled in the Holme Valley, West Yorkshire is the charming, vibrant town of Holmfirth. Known to millions as the setting for the long running BBC programme Last of the Summer Wine, Holmfirth is packed full of real ale pubs, cosy cafes, restaurants, a cinema and lots of little shops selling everything from sweets to sewing kits.
On any ordinary day the town is a treat to visit but for one weekend a year the folk from the Festival of Folk take over and the party comes to town. For three days the streets hum with the sounds of the clogs clicking, sticks banging and bells jingling as the dancers and street performers bring their individual style of entertainment to the valley.
We first visited the festival a few years ago and spent a great day then perched on various seats and walls around the village, pint of local ale in hand enjoying the dancing, street performers and music in the spring sunshine – this year was no different.
Holmfirth is a maze of narrow streets, terraced cottages, tiny shops and old mill buildings which are beautiful and all add to the ambience of the festival. From the minute you arrive you feel the amazing atmosphere just waiting to be soaked up.
We spent what felt like an age in a que of traffic trying to get near the festival before abandoning the car and heading off to find a drink and some dancing. We didn’t need to go far and we were not disappointed. You will never go hungry or thirsty at the festival. There are several pubs serving a variety of real ales, tea shops for a good brew and a scone, street BBQ’s for a quick burger pick-up and, of course, the humble chip – drenched in salt and vinegar and enjoyed out of the paper in the fresh air. After the spell of terrible weather we have been experiencing it was a relief to have a weekend of nice weather and be able to enjoy the sunshine without thinking about where to go to dodge the next downpour!.
Over the afternoon we saw groups of folk dancers dressed dramatically in their distinctive costumes, ladies dancing with handfuls of rhubarb (which I now know were the Rhubarb Tarts, a group of dancers from Wakefield), Morris dancers and the dance around the Maypole (which reminded me of the summer fête at primary school).
We barely broke the surface of how much entertainment there is to enjoy at the festival and missed out on many things, but the heavy sleeping child on our shoulders determined our departure.
The official website states that at dusk you should listen for the sound of the drums, look for the fire for and you may just be entertained by some fire dancers. Next year…..