Summerfest International Folklore Festival,
Hungary, August 2004

Hexham Morrismen and The Hexhamshire Lasses represent the UK at yet another prestigious international folk music event.

Our teams at SummerfestThis time it was Hungary’s spectacular “Summerfest”, held annually on the banks of the Danube. The festival began with informal music-making on an evening boat trip through Budapest, with the city’s splendid architecture as an illuminated backdrop. This was our first taste of the legendary Hungarian hospitality, which continued throughout the ten days of the festival. Hungary is a wonderful country, well worth considering as a tourist destination. It has plenty of sunshine, varied scenery, excellent food and drink (at very reasonable prices), and lots of friendly people who know how to party.

The teams were based in Tököl, and performed there, and also in nearby Ráckeve and Százhalombatta. All the dance displays were enthusiastically received by capacity audiences. On Hungary’s Constitution Day (20th August), four thousand people packed a natural amphitheatre beside the river, responding to each contribution with tumultuous applause. As well as our formal stage presentations, there were more relaxed band performances, at which the locals - and members of the other visiting groups - joined us in some Northumbrian ceilidh dancing. The Hexham teams also contributed a hymn in English to the Sunday service in Tököl church.

Dancers, musicians and singers from twenty-one nations - representing every continent on the globe except Antarctica - took part in the festival. The organisation of this huge event was splendid. The teams were well looked after - by the organisers from central office at Százalombatta, by the local director at Tököl and by our guides. Special thanks go to Csaba, our interpreter, whose efforts often went above and beyond the call of duty.

However, despite the busy schedule, the organisers ensured that there was time for the visitors to get acquainted with each other, and with the local residents - a key feature of the Summerfest. Every evening, once the official events were over, the Culture Centre in Tököl provided an ideal venue for relaxing over a drink, listening to local bands, and reflecting on the events of the day.

Design: TalkingHat Associates