Sights set on 50th anniversary for dance festival

Traditional music and dance group from Guadeloupe at Billingham Folklore Festival.
Traditional music and dance group from Guadeloupe at Billingham Folklore Festival.

ORGANISERS of a popular folk festival are looking forward to their golden anniversary.

The 48th Billingham International Folklore Festival of World Dance is still in full swing as 300 musicians and dancers from all over the globe celebrate their traditions with each other.

But festival leaders already have their sights on the future and their 50th anniversary in two years time.

It will celebrate the event’s rich history and ensure many more successful years to come.

Festival director Joe Maloney said: “That event will be not only retrospective, but also a launch pad from which to further propel the festival into its next decade and the decades that will follow.

“Everyone from everywhere and from whatever culture or background has always been welcome in Billingham and long may that be so.”

This year’s festival has branched out wider in the region including workshops in Newcastle and featured more modern styles of dance.

The festival brings eight days of music and dance displays to venues across Billingham, Middlesbrough and Stockton.

Visitors travel from all over the country and organisers say it has put Billingham on the world folk map.

Olga Maloney, artistic director of the Billingham International Folklore Festival, added: “It has built and continues to build on the values and foundations laid down by Philip Conroy in 1964-65 and now it is doing even more.

“Alongside traditional dancing, we now also feature contemporary dance and have continued to extend the involvement of the local community, especially young people, in the festival.

“While continuing to maintain our traditional focus, we are now bringing ground-breaking work in dance as well as UK premieres to the festival, which has now been embraced by additional audiences in other venues further afield as we continue to develop our new, contemporary identity while always maintaining Billingham as our base and inspiration.”

This year’s festival comes to a close tomorrow with farewell concerts and activities centred around Billingham Festival Arena in the town centre.

For full details call the festival office on (01642) 553220.