As the gates open at Chippenham Folk Festival tomorrow, performers at over 200 events are preparing to entertain the crowds.

There’s music, dance, song, and workshops, something for all the family, all aiming to show the huge range of music that comes under the English folk umbrella.

Rounding off each main festival day is the Big Top Concert, each night with a different theme.

Saturday night sees The Tale of Ale. Back in the 70s when even this festival was quite young a double album was produced that told the tale of beer and ale through songs, music, prose and poems. It was a great album and used as a valuable source for anyone singing about their favourite tipple.

This performance will bring it all up to date with a brand new show, a brand new album and a re-release of the original album on a double CD.

The show has some great musicians including Keith Kendrick, Sylvia Needham. Doug Eunson, Sarah Matthews, Oli Matthews, Pete Bullock, Roger Warren and John Titford with readings from John Titford and Roger Warren. This is the first major performance of the show and really should not be missed.

Keith Donelly aims to have the audience rolling in the aisles on Sunday with You’re Having a Laugh!, a comedy-based two hours of side-splitting mayhem.

Keith will be orchestrating a madcap show which will feature himself, The London Philharmonic Skiffle Orchestra, The Mrs Ackroyd’s Band and much, much more.

In complete contrast, Monday night sees A Days Work.: on the eve of The Great War a group of lifelong friends gather to discuss the impending conflict. Farm labourers and performers in the village mummers’ play: will they leave their traditions behind them and answer the call? What awaits them as the fighting moves remorselessly towards the Battle of the Somme?

Acclaimed on the folk scene and beyond when first performed in 1995, A Day’s Work is now re-written for The Great War Centenary with newly-composed songs and a cast of multi-talented and highly respected performers including Mick Ryan, Paul Downes, Heather Bradford, Greg Russell, Matt Quinn and Pete Morton.

All the Big Top concerts start at 6.30pm and entry is included with a festival season ticket (space permitting) or by buying an individual ticket, available from the website at or from Chippenham Visitor Information Centre, next to the Town Hall in Chippenham High Street.