Festival History

Folk at the Boat started with a folk session at the Steamboat Tavern.

The session’s been going for a few years now. In June 2004 landlady Val Bint decided to try something a bit more ambitious and host a whole weekend of folk music and dancing.

The Steamboat Folk Weekend 2004 was a huge success and we enjoyed it so much we decided to do it again! But the event became bigger than the pub; we wanted to tie it in more closely with the pub’s dockside location but we also wanted to put it on the map as an Ipswich event, not just the Steamboat’s – hence the change of name in 2005 to Ipswich Riverside Folk and Maritime Festival (and incidentally, the origin of the old irfmf.org.uk domain name, which is now defunct).

After three very successful years as IRFMF, financial constraints started to creep in and we also discovered some disadvantages to advertising a “folk festival” at such a small venue so we decided to split the difference and changed the name to Ipswich Riverside Folk Weekend in 2008. In 2011 after further unavoidable downsizing, the event went full circle and reverted to being the Steamboat Folk Weekend for two years.

In 2013, the festival underwent further downsizing to turn it into a one-day event and was rebranded as Folk at the Boat, but still with some great acts as in previous years. When Andy Barlow took over from Val as licensee in 2014, the festival carried on as though nothing had happened. Folk at the Boat is now established and long may it continue!

Please visit the Past Programmes pages for information, pictures and some videos of previous festivals.