*Scroll down for programs and site map for the festival.*
Aside from rocking out to music from across the globe, revelers at the Illawarra Folk Festival (IFF) can also get educated.
For about 16 years the Folk School has run alongside the region’s biggest music event, with workshops on everything from accordion tuning, to Clawhammer banjo, traditional clog dancing, making a sustainable life busking and Egyptian Baladi dance.
Music therapist and guitar teacher Ann Lehman has been co-ordinating the school for 12 years. She said there was no discrimination on age or skills with around 200 people regularly enrolled each year.
“People travel from all around Australia to attend … and tutors are coming from the UK and lots of different places,” Ms Lehman said. “Some of the people who are performing come a few days early and teach.”
Jessica Foot traveled from Victoria to perform with the Melbourne Scottish Fiddle Club.
Around 20 people filled a small room at the Bulli Uniting Church on Thursday to learn the tricks to playing Scottish violin and the differences between folk tunes from Novascocia in Canada compared to Scotland.
“All the different folk styles have really, really distinct characters of playing kind of like the different languages have different vocabulary and grammar,” Ms Foot said.
This would be her fifth IFF with camping on site a must because she loves catching up with “kindred spirits” she hasn’t seen in months.
“I like to camp at a festival because then I can stay up all night and play tunes with people and I don’t have to worry about when I’m getting home,” she said.
Kate Leung, 29, works as an aged care music therapist in Hong Kong and has traveled to Australia to attend her first IFF including Folk School to pick up skills she can use at home.
“I just finished dancing in an African drum workshop, it was really you don’t really have to say anything you just beat the drum and every is engaged,” Ms Leung said. “I really like that group energy.”
Ms Lehman said learning new skills enriches one’s life at any age.
The main musical programming runs Thursday to Sunday across 11 stages and includes folk, world, roots, bluegrass, gypsy and Celtic music, as well as poetry, comedy and dance.
The Illawarra Folk Festival runs from January 17 to 20 at Bulli Showgrounds. www.illawarrafolkfestival.com.au
YOUR GUIDES TO THE FOLK FEST
A colour map of the festival site HERE
Artist program for Thursday HERE
Artist program for Friday HERE
Artist program for Saturday HERE
Artist program for Sunday HERE
FESTIVAL TOP PICKS
Some of the more eclectic shows include shanty singing in the Session Tent Saturday night; the Wold Music Dance Party in the Black Diamond Marquee on Saturday evening; the Poet’s Breakfast (BYO poem) each morning in the Show Pavilion; yoga at Tivoli on Track on Friday and Saturday mornings; and the opportunity to join in bush dancing throughout the festival.
You can also jump on board the Green Music Train which will depart from Bondi Junction bound for Bulli as part of the Illawarra Folk Festival this weekend.
World musicians will give live performances on several trains from Waterfall – including the 8:13am and 9:13am services on Saturday and Sunday.
A free shuttle bus will also available between Bulli Station and the festival site between 8am and 7pm on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Call 1300 887 034 to arrange the bus for pickup.