We're happy to answer questions, but if you check this page first, you might find your answer here.
Is the festival really free?
We call it 'mostly free'. There are some headline concerts that you have to pay for, but it would be perfectly possible to attend the whole festival and have a really good time without ever paying at all. Even if you buy all the tickets, the festival is still extraordinary value. There are concerts, workshops, a ceilidh, sessions, a guided walk, singarounds, dance groups - all free.
So how do you pay for it?
Firstly, sponsorship. We are very grateful to our sponsors - see the foot of every page. Secondly, bucket rattling - we make collections at as many events as possible, though there are often more events going on than there are committee members to attend them with a bucket. It's always done with a smile and nobody minds if you don't put any money in. Thirdly, fundraising events throughout the year. Fishguard Folk Singers, for example, give all their income from paid gigs to the festival. Finally, advertising revenue from the programme and other minor sources.
None of it would be possible without many hours of unpaid hard work by the committee and helpers who are all volunteers.
What's the area like? Where can I stay/eat?
Fishguard is in beautiful Pembrokeshire, in Britain's only coastal National Park, so if some of the family is not so interested in the music (why? what's wrong with them?) there is plenty for them to do. Here's a site about the town itself, with tips on accommodation, food and drink, and so on: http://www.gofishguard.co.uk/
Are there any campsites or caravan sites?
Pembrokeshire is camping central. We're not endorsing any particular campsites because we don't know what you like, but Coolcamping and Pitchup are two websites with loads of links to get you started. The links in the previous paragraph might also help.
One striking place (of many, to be fair) is Fishguard Bay Resort which has everything from tent pitches to cabins with jacuzzis on the veranda. It has a unique location at the end of a little peninsula with spectacular views.
If I don't buy tickets in advance, can I get them at the Festival?
Certainly. Paying on the door is nearly always an option, but we can't guarantee that we won't sell out. It has been known. A better option is to buy them from Theatr Gwaun, either over the counter or via their website.
And don't forget: in 2022 there were 61 events, of which only three were ticketed. The other 58 were FREE.
I fancy playing in a session but I'm afraid it'll be too fast.
Oh, we all feel like that at first. Don't worry about it. Joining in with better players is a great experience and it's how we all learned. The key to joining in is sometimes called session etiquette. It's not much more than good manners, really. Play quietly until you know you're playing roughly the right tune. If you can't play all the notes at full speed, play the important ones. Don't start something that you can't finish. And always RESPECT THE BEAT!!
Have a practice by playing along with the harbour session video below. That's a pretty normal sort of session.
Visiting professionals often join in the Royal Oak session. You could find yourself playing next to your hero.
If you think the full-strength sessions might be a bit fast for you, the ‘Slow and Easy’ sessions might be just right. They are based on the fantastic work of Tuneworks and will be using their FREE tunebook, available to download but not essential to have with you. All instruments and all ability levels are welcome.
I'm a good player. Can I just set up on the street and busk?
Certainly. The usual things apply: please set up where you don't cause an obstruction, and be considerate to all your temporary neighbours.
Is the festival child-friendly?
We welcome children to all events. There are no X-rated events at Fishguard! It's up to parents to decide if a given event will suit their children for other reasons such as lateness or duration or whatever.
Are all venues disability-friendly?
We have no premises of our own. All venues used by the festival are privately-owned commercial premises subject to the national regulations. The 'Pirates and Smugglers Walk' involves steep, narrow footpaths and is partly off-road.
I understand your printed programme is rather splendid. Where can I buy one?
You can't, because in all our lunatic generosity we give them away. They would be £5 anywhere else. You'll see them everywhere. In return we ask only that you don't treat them as disposable, which we're sure you wouldn't, because folkies aren't like that. Take one, keep it to the end, then recycle it. A toilet-roll factory will thank you for your consideration.
PIRATES AND SMUGGLERS WALK
This short guided walk is a chance to learn about the last pirate attack in Britain. Who keeps the town cannonball? Who was Black Bart*? Where did the French invaders first come under fire? Learn how to load and fire a 14-pounder naval cannon, meet some musical pirates, find out why pirates are such poor communicators**, and sing some sea shanties. Visit the gun fort and the town's quaintest pub. This gentle, family-friendly walk ends in Lower Town at about 1.00. Free, just turn up at The Royal Oak on Town Square at 11.00. Refreshments en route (but if you expect us to pay for them, you might be unlucky). Dress as for a walk on the Coast Path - it's not all on tarmac, there are some steps, some bits are a bit steep.
* Local boy gone wrong
** Provide own joke here
THE LOCAL FOLK SCENE
...is a thriving one. The Festival grew out of it. The centre of local folkie life is The Royal Oak on the square (see map). It hosts the Festival's main session, and in normal times has an excellent general session every Tuesday night throughout the year. The session has its own Facebook page, which also has more general information about things that might be of interest.
During the pandemic the weekly Royal Oak Session had to move house down to the harbour, in the open air. We loved it down there, but time has moved on (as it tends to) and we're allowed back in The Oak these days.
Here's a little video made one Saturday lunchtime in September 2020.
MAP - click on a red location pin for brief description of that location's festival role