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Festival fever


Hundreds are expected to descend on Southwell this weekend for one of the biggest folk festivals ever to be held in Nottinghamshire.

The town will be alive with music and dancing after the second Gate to Southwell Folk Festival begins this afternoon, bringing with it plenty of colour and crowds.

Organisers of the festival are predicting a bumper attendance with twice the number of tickets sold as last year. At least 1,000 people are expected to attend each day.

Businesses in Southwell are set to benefit as the festival, on the field next to the Workhouse, looks to build on last year’s success.

Many of the events will take place in a field next to the Workhouse, but there will be music, dancing and entertainment in the Market Square tomorrow and Sunday, and pubs and shops will also host acts.

Morris dancers will arrive at the minster at 5.15pm tomorrow as part of the Gate to Southwell procession from Nottingham.

The landlord of the Admiral Rodney, Mr Neil McKeechan, said: “We are expecting a large number of visitors to the town and they all need somewhere to eat and drink.”

Mr McKeechan said there was a definite increase in trade during the festival weekend last year.

“Anything that brings people into the town is a good thing and we all benefit,” he said.

The chairman of Southwell Tourism Partnership, Mrs Beryl Prentice, said: “We were absolutely delighted that last year was such a success.

“They have been encouraged to do it again and I hope it is going to be just as successful.”

Mrs Prentice said shops in the town would particularly benefit from people camping in the fields near the Workhouse.

“The Gate to Southwell itself has been going on for hundreds and hundreds of years and that is going to be spectacular as they dance in the minster,” she said.

“The organisers of the folk festival had a good idea in combining the two.”

The secretary of Southwell Traders’ Association, Mr Robert Beckett, said the town relied on tourists and visitors coming into the town to spend money and he hoped the festival would attract more people.

The events and tourist information centre co-ordinator for Southwell, Mrs Honor Dunkley, said events like the folk festival, were putting Southwell on the map.

She said: “We are hoping the overspill of festival events in the town will create a great atmosphere.”

“It all adds to the vibrancy of the town and there is an obvious knock-on effect for businesses.”

The festival organiser, Mr Mike Kirrage, said the event was about much more than the headline acts.

“There is a lot for children this year. We have worked hard to provide a range of workshops for all ages and abilities,” he said.

“There are more opportunities for dancing and also a lot more dance displays throughout the weekend, featuring some of the most famous traditional sides.”

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