Southdowns Folk Festival confirms its return

The 2021 Southdowns Folk Festival is ready to roll, with tickets on sale now.

Festival chairman Roger Nash
Festival chairman Roger Nash

Festival chairman Roger Nash confirmed the government’s lockdown easing announcement has cleared the way for the September celebration in Bognor Regis to go ahead.

The festival had already rolled the line-up from the cancelled 2020 festival across to a proposed 2021 outing. All it needed was the green light… which has now happened.

The festival entered the third national lockdown with effectively all the pieces in place for this year’s event. Now Roger and the team can start looking forward to it.

“We are pretty confident now that we can go ahead with it. There may be some restrictions, but whatever protocol there is we will abide by. And we are pretty confident and the theatre are pretty confident that by then they will be back to full capacity. The theatre will be able to open with 50 per cent capacity in May but by the end of June, early July they should be back to full capacity.”

The Regis Centre will be the venue for the festival’s headline events:

Thursday, September 16 – Steve Harley Acoustic Band.

Friday, September 17 – Gerry Colvin Band; Jez Lowe & Steve Tilston.

Saturday, September 18 – Gilmore & Roberts; The Strawbs.

Sunday, September 19 – Red Shoes; Steve Knightley.

“We are assuming full capacity, but I am sure there will be a lot of things like hand sanitiser stations for people and I am sure there will still be people wanting to wear masks because they feel safer wearing a mask. I think what this last year has shown has been the importance of hygiene, and if people feel safer wearing a mask, then fair enough.”

Roger is delighted with the line-up which he and the team have been able to carry over to this year. There will also be a range of other events as part of the overall Southdowns Folk Festival, including the Southdowns Ukulele Festival and also, new for this year, the Shanty Showdown: “We have lined up a whole series of shanty groups from around the region. And also new this year we have got an Americana festival on the pier.”

Roger is sure there will be an audience desperate to get out there: “I think people certainly by late summer or even by now are very keen to get out there – though obviously safety will always be absolutely paramount for us.”

And that confidence has allowed the expansion in this return year with the addition of the shanty and Americana elements.: “We have got whole different groups that we are focusing on. We will also be using lots of other venues. The seafront will be very much part of the festival and there will also be performances and concerts and a dance festival, and we will also be using places like the William Hardwicke and the RAFA club and other venues around town.”

The great news is that, despite everything, the whole festival is still financially sound, Roger says: “We have had lots of support from Bognor Regis Town Council and also West Sussex County Council, and we have been able to roll the tickets over where we can and we have got tickets that are on sale now. I think we will be finding that people will be booking quite late, but we are confident we will achieve a good audience, and financially we are fine.”

Full details and tickets on