St Ives September Festival

St Ives September Festival

...two weeks of music, art, comedy and more

The St Ives September Festival - two weeks of music, arts and literature - is arguably the glittering highlight of Cornwall's cultural calendar, and this year’s line-up is truly spectacular.

St Ives has long been known as a centre for arts and culture, and the festival fortnight embodies the town’s diverse community and spirit, with a varied programme of events.

Arts workshops and classes, art exhibitions, talks, theatre, cabaret, comedy, poetry, street entertainment and much more can be found across the town.

But it’s the live music which provides the biggest names. Nightly performances will be held at both St Ives’ Guildhall and the Western Hotel, and the list of headline acts is a stellar one.

We Know Them So Well

From the unique voice of the multi-platinum selling singer and double Olivier Award-winning actress Barbara Dickson, to the eccentric-yet-beautiful prog rock of Dutch band Focus, with a handful of bona-fide folk stars in between, the line-up in 2011 was of exceptional quality.

Barbara Dickson played the Guildhall on Sunday 11th, following on from The Big Chris Barber band who kick the festival off the night before.

Big Names

Focus – famed for their hits ‘Hocus Pocus’ and ‘House of the King’ – appeared on Thursday 22nd, and were supported by equally quirky 60s lunatics The Crazy World of Arthur Brown.

Arguably the biggest contemporary name, Devonian folk star Seth Lakeman, widely regarded as the UK’s premier folk singer-songwriter. Seth – was at the Guildhall on the 17th – has won numerous Radio 2 Folk Awards, as well as being nominated for the prestigious Mercury Music Prize in 2005.

Seth Lakeman is often credited with shattering the negative perceptions of British folk music, which is now readily accepted in the mainstream. In fact, it’s pretty damn cool, and some of the country’s finest folk acts can be seen at the St Ives September Festival.

Folk Hat-Trick

Lau, performing at the Guildhall on the 14th, are one of the best live acts around - in any genre. A trio of immense musicianship, Lau are up to their eyeballs in awards and continue to push the boundaries of folk music. They are a must-see.

Martin Simpson – one of the world’s finest guitarists and master storyteller - takes the stage the night before (13th), while Lau’s show is followed a day later by British folk legends Martin Carthy and Dave Swarbrick.

The duo, back together after a gap of 14 years, were major players in the British folk revival of the 1960s and continue to innovate. Still at the top of their game, their appearance completes a remarkable hat-trick for folk fans to enjoy.

The extremely talented Johnny Flynn is something of a poster boy for the new British folk boom, and he has the songs to back up the pretty face, Debut album ‘A Larum’ shot the 27 year old to national attention and critical acclaim, while 2010 follow-up ‘Been Listening’ expanded on his British folk sound.


Comedian and activist Mark Thomas told the story of his walk across the entire length of the Israeli Separation Barrier, when he crossed between Israel and Palestine.

Someone who knows about both comedy and music is Ade Edmondson, best-known as anarchic nutter Vyvyan in seminal sitcom The Young Ones. The Bottom star fronts Adrian Edmondson & The Bad Shepherds whose unique approach is to cover punk classics on folk instruments.

Ade plays the ‘thrash mandolin’ and songs by The Sex Pistols, The Clash, The Stranglers, The Jam, Sham 69, The Undertones, The Buzzcocks, The Ramones, The Specials, Talking Heads, Squeeze and even Kraftwerk all feature in their set.

The festival runs from the middle two weeks of September, and tickets are available from the festival website (see external links).


Last Updated: 28 Apr 2015