Inter Varsity Folk Dance Festival

Inter Varsity Folk Dance Festival
Photo: ivfdf.org
The Inter Varsity Folk Dance Festival is the longest continually running folk festival in the United Kingdom. It is organized by student folk societies, but students aren’t its only participants. The festival attracts plenty of ex-students and folk music enthusiasts who come from all over the UK for a weekend of non-stop dance and music.

The inaugural edition of the Inter Varsity Folk Dance Festival (IVFDF) was held in 1951 at the University of Leeds, West Yorkshire, England. Of course, back then it wasn’t known as IVFDF yet and lasted for only one day. Nevertheless, the event turned out successful. The next edition took place the following year at the University of Newcastle.

That’s how the tradition of changing location every year began. Each edition of IVFDF is organized by a new host dance society usually associated with a university. Over the years, the Inter Varsity Folk Dance Festival has traveled across the entire United Kingdom, from the University of Aberdeen in the north to the University of Exeter in the south.

As we’ve already mentioned, IVFDF is run by student folk societies. It is always held in either the last weekend in February or the first weekend in March. Each edition of the festival has a mascot introduced by the host society. Notable mascots have included Cuthbert (snake, Cambridge), Floyd (pig, Exeter), Nessie (Loch Ness Monster, Edinburgh), Don (elephant, Warwick), and others.

Due to moving location every year, each edition of IVFDF has its own style and atmosphere so the rule “If you have seen one, you have seen them all” doesn’t apply here. Host groups are chosen three years in advance so that they have plenty of time to make arrangements. This means that IVFDF usually has 2 or 3 parallel committees, each at different stage of planning.

Although the Inter Varsity Folk Dance Festival is primarily aimed at students, you don’t have to be a student to attend and participate. It is open to everyone who is energetic enough to enjoy folk music and dance. IVFDF offers a variety of events for people of all ages and interests. Its program focuses on ceilidhs (traditional Gaelic social gatherings involving music and dancing) and workshops covering a wide range of dance styles including Highland dance, Scottish country dance, Irish step dancing, Irish set dancing, rapper sword, Morris dance, Playford dance, and more.

Inter Varsity Folk Dance Festival


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