Dart Music Festival 2017 will be the 20th incarnation of Dartmouth’s popular three-day musical extravaganza. As well as the quality and range of live music on show, the festival has become known for its generosity (almost all the music is absolutely free!) and its warm, friendly atmosphere.
This year’s event is scheduled for Friday 12th, Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th May.
As many as 100 acts take to the stage during Dartmouth’s much-loved music festival, with genres ranging from sea shanties to big band jazz. You’ll hear interpretations of your favourite songs as well as plenty of original numbers, and no matter how specific your tastes you’re sure to find something you’ll enjoy. With 20 venues in the town, the only problem will be deciding which acts you’ll have to miss out on!
The best way to find out about the Dart Music Festival while at the same time supporting the event is to purchase a programme from the organisers. You can do this online from April once all the acts have been confirmed.
While programmes are optional and the music is free, the organisers are keen to point out that most of the acts need to be paid for their performances. This means that donations are very welcome during the event. Volunteers carrying buckets are likely to approach you at some point over the three days, and a £5 donation will result in your receiving a wristband that means you’ll be left alone from then on!
During the Dartmouth Music Festival, almost every available space in the town seems to become a music venue.
As Dartmouth is such a compact town, you’ll have no trouble navigating between each venue. If you’re torn between two acts performing at the same time, in most cases you can catch the start of one show and, if it turns out to not be your cup of tea, walk over to the other and you won’t have missed much.
The bandstand in Royal Avenue Gardens is the hub of the festival, where lots of stadium-style acts are often hosted in the open air. Bayard’s Cove Fort and Market Square are also popular open-air venues, with the former in particular providing a really atmospheric space.
One venue that is a little out of the way is the Guildhall on Victoria Road. It’s easy to miss the excellent acts that perform in this ideal space for concerts. There’s plenty of room, some seating and a pop-up licensed bar, making it a good place to settle in for an evening’s entertainment.
The best place to park during Dartmouth Music Festival is at the Park and Ride Car Park at the top of town. Parking is £5 per car per day, which of course includes use of the bus for the car driver and all the passengers (provided they ride together). Full South Hams Car Park permits are valid for this service.
Here are five of our highlights from this year’s lineup. For the performance times, please purchase a programme, available in paper form or as a downloadable PDF. You can do this here: http://www.dartmusicfestival.co.uk/programme/
Saturday 13th May at the Flavel
One of UK folk’s leading partnerships, Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman are twice recent winners of the BBC Radio 2 Folk Award for Best Duo (2013 & 2016).
Here’s an example of their haunting sound and evocative lyrics.
Sunday 14th May at the Bandstand
Hailing from Canvee Island in Essex, Dr Feelgood is rock band that formed in 1971 and became known for a distinctively British take on R&B. The band scored a handful of chart hits, including a number 9 in 1979 with their single, ‘Milk and Alcohol’.
Since then, individual members have come and gone but Dr Feelgood has continued touring the UK and overseas. This video features the band performing ‘See You Later Alligator’ last year in Finland.
Friday 12th May at St John the Baptist Church
The Guardian newspaper described one of classical guitarist Laura Snowden’s shows as ‘poignant [and] mesmerising’ and her award-winning compositions have been performed internationally.
Don’t miss your chance to hear this rising star of classical guitar on Friday 12th May.
Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th at the Bandstand and the Market Square
A duo of multi-instrumentalist brothers, Richard and Robert Harrison, Echo Town has the knack of creating the fulsome sound of an entire ensemble, despite only two of them being onstage.
With the creative use of instruments including a lap-slide guitar, djembe, didgeridoo, harmonica and drums, they produce foot-tapping music that’s joyfully upbeat – ideal for festivals, hence their recent appearances at major events throughout the South West.
This video gives you a good idea of what to expect.
Sunday 14th May at the Bandstand
Raised in a small town near Bristol, Yola Carter has supported many illustrious acts including James Brown, as well as performing with Massive Attack and Eddie Floyd amongst others. As a songwriter, Yola has collaborated with Katy Perry and Will Young, and she’s bringing her considerable energy and talent to Dartmouth on Sunday 14th May at the Bandstand.
Catch her performing ‘Fly Away’ last year in this video.
If you’re looking for accommodation in Dartmouth during the Dart Music Festival, we strongly advise early booking due to the ever-increasing popularity of the event.
Coast & Country Cottages offers an extensive range of self-catering accommodation in Dartmouth, suitable for all party sizes and requirements.