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31 Mar 2017

Easter is fast approaching, which means it’s that time of year to escape to one of the exceptional music festivals Australia puts on annually over the long weekend.

There is of course, Bluesfest near Byron Bay, NSW – offering five days of outstanding contemporary blues, rock and roots music by some of the world’s leading acts.

This year’s headline offerings include greats such as Santana, Billy Bragg, Buddy Guy, Bonnie Raitt, Tony Joe White, Neil Finn, Kasey Chambers, Mavis Staples, the Doobie Brothers and the incomparable Patti Smith.

In the nation’s capital, however, is an even longer established music festival that has to be one of Australia’s national treasures.

The National Folk Festival has been a musical institution in this country since 1967, spending its first quarter century of existence rotating through the States taking turns as host venues.

Since 1992 the National, as it is fondly known, has been permanently and fittingly staged each year in Canberra – it is the National Folk Festival after all.

With 27 international acts this year, plus a horde of home-grown artists, musical flavours from around the world will converge on the capital for five days and nights.

There is a genre to pretty much please every musical taste.

(One of the best kept secrets about folk festivals is you can always find great blues music being performed at them.)

So if you are into bluegrass, ragtime, jazz, gypsy jazz, Celtic, flamenco, tango, Afro, Middle Eastern, Western European, Indigenous Australian, old English folk, old Australian folk, bush ballads, country, blues or late night rock music – it’s all on offer at the National.

Like Louis Armstrong once said: “All music is folk music. I ain’t never heard no horse sing a song.”

A feature artist from the UK this festival is a singing, Uilleann pipe playing medico Jarlath Henderson.

By day he’s a doctor, but he hasn’t had to give up his day job to also pursue his musical dream.

Jarlath Henderson is the youngest ever winner of the BBC Young Folk Award, which he won in 2003 aged 19.

He has created a sound that is being described as “defying convention” by dazzlingly juxtaposing the traditional with the modern.

From high-end entertainment to the expression of folk-life, the award-winning National Folk Festival is a celebration of all things folk.

With a program designed to inspire, enliven and entertain, from traditional and contemporary grooves to the quirky and the endearing, the National features all the key elements that make people want to come from everywhere to be part of it.

The 2017 Festival runs for five days at Easter (Thursday to Monday) across 18 venues all located within Exhibition Park in Canberra.

Discounted tickets are available until April 9 at the festival website. Patrons can BYO tent, motor home, caravan or hire a tent on-site with the festival’s Rent-a-Tent Accommodation.

More info at or follow National Folk Festival on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Chris Johnson



Published: 31 Mar 2017