See a bunch of photos from the new site in 2021 at the foot of the page here.
The Gate to Southwell Festival is now established as a leading international roots and acoustic music event rivalling other well-established festivals and receiving many accolades. We are near the historic and beautiful market town of Southwell, Nottinghamshire, in glorious parkland at Kirklington village, approximately 13 miles from Nottingham and 8 miles from the A1 and Newark. We are a non-for-profit organisation run by enthusiastic and experienced volunteers who love staging the "biggest little festival in the land" !
We started off on a site near the National Trust Workhouse in Southwell in 2007, moving to Southwell Racecourse in 2015 and to our new site in 2021. Feedback on the new location has been incredible!
Here you'll find over 50 artists performing over 4 days on 4 main stages, on-site camping, kids activities, workshops, dance, street theatre, comedy, spoken word and lots more.
We believe what sets us apart from many of the smaller UK festivals are two things - the first is the music. You will not find any "fill-in" artists at GTSF. Everyone on stage brings a unique talent, whether they're well-known names or up-and-coming stars, or are playing to gain exposure with a new audience, they will all have shown an element of "magic" in their performances to bring something special to the festival experience. There have been many artists who have played their first "proper festival" here, who now grace the main stages of some of the greatest festivals in the world. See them here first!
The second is the friendliness of GTSF - you can bump into the organisers and many of the artists all over the site and have a chat. Our stewards are just the best - and that rubs off on everyone else. We implore you to come and join the fun!
We are also renown for the special concerts and shows which intermingle with great acts like those you can find on the previous line-up page. In 2017 we put on an unforgettable "Summer of Love" concert and in 2016 celebrated Bob Dylan's 75th birthday with another hit concert. In 2019 we celebrated 50 years since Woodstock. In 2021 we held a tribute concert to John Prine who had passed away since the previous festival. You can see the whole of that concert here.
From its humble beginnings in 2007 as primarily an English folk music and dance festival, Southwell has evolved into one of the leading and most innovative roots and acoustic music events in the country. We pride ourselves in attracting artists from all over the world, some of whom came to Southwell to play their first concert outside their home country, flying in just to play here.
Dance remains a popular part of the festival with an emphasis on variety and entertainment. Ceilidhs or other social folk dances normally take place each day on site.
Southwell is a family friendly and fun festival with plenty of entertainment for the kids and youths alike. Many children’s activities are aimed to be educative as well as fun with our own instrument workshops, and various other hands-on opportunities. Family entertainment always includes a liberal dose of street theatre and ‘walkabouts’ as well as storytellers and musicians.
We are a member of the Association of Festival Organisers, the UKs predominant organisation for independent festivals, where we share best practice and benefit from technical advice and experience. This has been particularly valuable during the pandemic.