New era for Banbury Folk Festival as organisers retire

Derek and Mary Droscher, who are retiring from running the Banbury Folk Festival. Picture by John S Wright. NNL-170627-110845001
Derek and Mary Droscher, who are retiring from running the Banbury Folk Festival. Picture by John S Wright. NNL-170627-110845001

It will be the end of an era for Banbury Folk and Hobby Horse Festival this year after the event’s founders announced their retirement.

Derek and Mary Droscher started Banbury Folk Club in 1999 and the club – and the festival – is celebrating its 18th birthday.

The festival started as a one-day event in one venue but developed into a weekend festival spread over several venues in the town centre. In the last two years, the festival has amalgamated with Banbury Hobby Horse Festival.

Mr and Mrs Droscher said: “Although we are stepping down from our organising commitments, we are pleased to report that a group has formed to continue the folk club.

“The Hobby Horse Festival will also continue, with possibly other events being added to this as the folk club group gains in confidence. We want this to be a year to remember!”

This year’s folk and hobby horse festival, which runs from October 6 to 8, will be headlined on October 7 by Dougie MacLean, famed for writing Caledonia, who has built an international reputation as songwriter, composer and performer. Dougie was awarded an OBE in the New Years Honours list in recognition of his services to music and charity and a Lifetime Achievement Award by the BBC. There will also be a chance to meet Dougie in an informal appearance earlier on the Saturday.

The Droschers said: “We are delighted to be having Dougie back at Banbury this year – he last played the festival in 2010 and went down a storm! He has the ability to stand on stage delivering his songs effortlessly and hold the audience in the palm of his hand.”

On Friday, October 6, there will be an Irish themed concert called The Mighty Craic, which will be headlined by The Mighty Doonans. Also performing is Tipperary born singer-songwriter Paula Ryan and local artists the Kevin O’Regan Band, accompanied by two Irish dancers.

The finale on the Sunday was due to have a performance by renowned singer-songwriter Vin Garbutt, but he passed away on June 6 with more than 800 people attending his funeral in Middlesbrough Cathedral.

Performing instead will be Anthony John Clarke, whose set will include a tribute to Vin.

There will be other concerts around Banbury as well as a chance for people to join folk clubs, song sessions and workshops.

More hobby horses and traditional beasts are expected at the Hobby Horse Festival with dance-sides and hobby horses around Banbury Old Town on Saturday and Sunday, including a procession led by the Worcester Ukulele Club Band on Saturday morning.

There will be other events at Banbury Cross, the Reindeer Inn, the White Horse, Bodicote Cricket Pavilion and the Methodist Hall.

Tickets are on sale at or fliers with booking forms are available at Banbury Tourist Information. An early bird weekend ticket is available, giving a £10 discount on the full weekend price.