THE musical extravaganza that is the Holmfirth Festival of Folk is only days away.

For centuries people in England have celebrated the merry month of May and the proud tradition lives on in Holmfirth.

This is the fourth year of the ‘new look’ Festival of Folk since a new team of volunteers took over and returned the weekend to its grassroots.

The three-day event kicks off on Friday May 8 and the schedule is as packed as ever with artists filling the town’s pubs, theatres, and bars from dawn ’til dusk all weekend long.

Wherever you go, from the grand civic hall to the humble bars and pubs, there will be plenty to see and hear.

The vast majority of the events are free although audiences are ‘encouraged’ to contribute to the collection buckets.

The only paid events are the concerts in the Old Bridge function room and the ceilidh.

The festival specialises in lively music, family-friendly street theatre shows and exuberant dance displays.

And free workshops, including the legendary spoon playing demos, are another popular feature.

This year workshops include alternative guitar tuning, belly dancing and a ‘looping’ workshop with Hamish Currie, where you can have a go at looping and overdubbing in real time.

Holmfirth Parish Church has joined in the fun this year with an opportunity to learn about lesser known hymns and carols on Saturday morning and three of the areas best young singer/songwriters will be in concert on Saturday afternoon.

The church also has events on Sunday, including a special service with Bishop Tony, music from Sheffield band Outcry and dance with Mons Meg Rapper from Edinburgh followed by a lunchtime concert with One Accord and Sheffield Folk Chorale.

Keeping it local will be Marsden-born poet Simon Armitage and Roger Davies together with Simon’s rock ’n’ roll band The Scaremongers, who play a warm up gig at Number 11 on the Thursday and Friday

The Old Bridge and the Picturedrome are once again the heart of the festival.

A packed schedule at the two venues include slots from the Eliza Carthy Band, the Jake Thackray Experience, BBC Folk Festival winners Bellowhead, roots performer Ruth Notman and self-styled Celtic rockabilly combo Saor Patrol.

Guests filling the town’s pubs and bars include Northumbrian folk-rockers Jez Lowe and the Bad Pennies and French singer Flossie Malavialle

And it’s not just imported folk stars playing their hearts out in Holmfirth.

The Holme Valley boasts a wealth of songwriting talent and “Holme Grown” artists including Jack Rutter, who has been wowing audiences at the Holmfirth Jazz Club, will be showcased at a concert at Carniceria on the Saturday afternoon.

Other highlights include dance events and Bread and Butter Theatre, who make a return appearance to the festival and children will be entertained by Colonel Custard and his Punch and Judy Show on Sunday.

For further information contact Holmfirth Tourist Information Office on 01484 222444 or visit the website