INTERNATIONAL folk performer John Kirkpatrick is to be the patron of Chippenham Folk Festival.

The festival, which runs from Friday to Monday, May 24-27, is in its 48th year and John has performed at there from its earliest days when it was based in Lacock.

He said: “I am trilled and delighted to have been invited to become patron of Chippenham Folk Festival. It has always been one of my favourite weekend events.”

A household name for everyone who loves English folk music.

John Kirkpatrick was a member of the highly successful band Steeleye Span as well as performing in many other bands over the years.

He performed in the National Theatre production of Lark Rise to Candleford and has written songs and music for many theatre productions.

Awarding him the Gold Badge for outstanding services to folk music in 2003, the English Folk Dance and Song Society described John as a supreme musician, a wonderful singer, an inspirational teacher and workshop leader, a fabulous dancer and (possibly) one of the finest songwriters, composers and arrangers of English folk music.

In 2010 he was named BBC Radio 2’s folk musician of the year.

Festival Organiser Bob Berry said, “We are honoured that John has agreed to be our patron. I know that others have asked him in the past, but he has never said yes before.”

Talking about the festival, John said: “It’s well run, beautifully compact, fits the town like a glove and provides a perfect snapshot of everything I hold valuable in the world of traditional music.”

Chippenham Folk Festival celebrates the folk traditions of England and whether it is singing, dancing, song writing, story telling, playing the music or listening to performers talking about what influences them, with over 200 events at the festival there is something for everyone.

Now in its 48th successful year the festival has seen many changes since its beginnings in Lacock all those years ago, but it still retains its 'village' atmosphere, providing three and a half days packed with song, dance, workshops and dance displays.

The main ceilidh and concert events take place in venues close to the park alongside the river, while practically every pub and venue in the town is used for a vast range of sessions, workshops and smaller concerts and dances. The children have their own festival based on Island Park a large craft marquee, catering facilities and an open air arena in the park.

The High Street and historic Market Square are both pedestrianised.