Feedback on 2018 Festival

Thanks to all who gave us feedback on the 2018 Festival. It has all been shared across the festival team and fully considered when planning for the future. We hope the following information will answer some of the most frequently made comments.


Many thanks for all the feedback on the Artistic side of the festival, mostly very positive! All comments have been shared with the various programme co-ordinators and advisors and taken into account when planning for 2019.

Workshops – We appreciate the number of very positive comments about particular workshops and their leaders. These have informed the planning for this year’s workshop programme. In response to several requests we are including a series of Ukulele workshops and a wider range of dance workshops as well as repeating and extending some of the most popular series.

Folk Dance – The feedback on callers and bands has been carefully considered and taken into account.  We are pleased to welcome a top American Caller again, with Diane Silver joining us from North Carolina. We are delighted to introduce a splendid new in town Folk Dance venue in the Music Room at Sidholme Hotel. This will give extra venue space in the afternoons and allow more programme flexibility and help avoid clashing of similar dance styles.

World Music and Dance – We are planning a series of dance workshops with a variety of international styles for the afternoons. The festival no longer has a stage, accommodation or facilities suitable for international dance as seen in the years of the International Festival. It is also increasingly difficult to bring overseas artists into the country because of more restrictive visa regulations. Several major festivals have lost such artists at short notice in recent years due to such problems. We are talking to a number of UK based artists from different traditions and hope to strengthen this side of the festival.

Ham Concerts – In response to a number of requests we are delighted to welcome Richard Thompson, The Young ‘Uns and Sam Kelly and The Lost Boys to the Ham.

Programme and Marketing

Thanks for all the constructive comments on this area.

Artist biogs in the programme are kept brief because of the high number of artists involved. We intend to provide more artist information on the website and via social media (using links to videos on YouTube etc) throughout the year to help you make informed decisions about who to see at the festival.

We are planning a new marketing approach to heighten awareness of The Bulverton and daytime events in general and at the Blackmore Marquee in particular.

Making the print larger in the printed programme would be difficult for technical reasons and add substantially to costs. We are looking at producing a digital version with bigger print.

The printed programme was delayed in 2018 due to a technical error when it was sent to the printer. We expect to revert to our usual timescales in 2019.

Plastics and Environmental Impact

In 2018 the Festival took a big step forward by getting rid of 3000+ single use plastic bottles that we had previously provided to artists and at venues. Our caterers and bars also stopped supplying water in single use plastics. All of our waste is taken off site and sorted for recycling and has been for the last few years. We are currently investigating other ways of reducing single use plastics at the event and we strive to continue minimising our environmental impact.


We will be replacing nearly all ticket types with wristbands for the 2019 Festival.

We are reviewing the number of event tickets available for each Manor Pavilion show in order to maximise space for Week, Weekend and Day ticket holders whilst still making it possible for residents to access shows of particular local interest. The number of Event Tickets will vary from show to show to reflect potential interest. No event tickets will be sold for weekend shows when “season ticket” numbers are at their highest. New systems will be in place for 2019 in order to avoid the miscommunications that led to Full House being called at the Manor Pavilion when there were still vacant seats.

The Personal Assistant Ticket (previously called ‘Carers Ticket’ or ‘Disabled Helpers’ Ticket’) will allow holders to attend events when not on caring duty. Further information on Ticketing and the reasons for the wide range of tickets available can be found here.

Disabled / mobility issues

If you are disabled or have mobility issues please direct all your access related enquiries to ‘access@sidmouthfolkfestival.co.uk’. Please note that Personal Assistant tickets (previously called ‘Carers’ tickets or ‘Disabled Helpers’ Ticket’) will be bookable via the website for 2019. These are collection only and the appropriate evidence of entitlement (see the ticket page for details) will need to be produced when collecting from the Box Office.


We are currently working with the various bodies involved with managing the Seafront, Market Place and town environs. The aim is to avoid any negative impact on the town in terms of illegal trading or busking in inappropriate locations. New performance areas for dance teams and acoustic performers were introduced in 2016.

As it stands EDDC manage the Seafront trading aspect but we continue to discuss arrangements to ensure all visitors have a great experience during their stay.

Water refill points

Sidmouth Town Council have installed water points in the town and are currently looking at additional points. The festival is assessing the best locations for additional Festival week locations whilst ensuring that we are able to minimise water wastage and provide for caterers etc where needed.


We are currently talking to our suppliers and developing plans to improve our facilities.

Bus Service

An enhanced amount of signage and information will be provided for 2019 to ensure that information about the bus service is readily accessible across the festival.


We are currently working with our waste management team and the recycling company to be able to inform our guests better.

There will be more bins for the various types BUT they will still all go into the same skip to be sorted off site. Once confirmed our recycling processes will be made clearer to all visitors.


2018 was the 12th year we have utilised the same seating company and have received little negative feedback until this year. We suspect that the weather (heat) played a part in the comfort factor. For 2019 the seating will be from the same contractor. The seating is used on various events across the UK. Although not padded, the seating is ergonomically designed and with the tiered seating required for the Ham venue provides the appropriate level of back support and clearances needed for 2 hour performances.

The other venues utilise Samsonite folding seating, again utilised across the event industry for many years to provide temporary seating solution. They are a lightweight and folding solution so do not provide quite such a comfort factor as permanent theatre seating.

Level floor at Bulverton?

The Bulverton is built on a crest of a hill and to that end there is a slope away on the extreme edges of the venue and a height differential from front to back. We endeavour with our marquee builders to minimise the slope as far as possible without needing to construct significant sub platforms across the entire site.