Inter Varsity Folk Dance Festival

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The Inter Varsity Folk Dance Festival (IVFDF) is the longest running folk festival in the United Kingdom.[1]

It differs from most other festivals in two respects: it moves location every year, and it is hosted and organised by student folk societies. However it attracts ex-students and folk music enthusiasts, who descend on the host university for a weekend of music, dance and song. The festival is always run in either the last weekend in February or the first weekend in March; the festival at Exeter University in 2009 was attended by around 1169 different ticket holders — one of the most of any IVFDF up to that time (the previous record was just over 1000 attendees at the IVFDF in Manchester in 1986).[2]

The festival will next be held online in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, hosted by people based in Bristol. The festival is next scheduled to be hosted by the University of Sheffield.


The festival started in 1951 at the University of Leeds. Since then it has been roaming UK universities from the north (the University of Aberdeen in Scotland) to the south (the University of Exeter in England):

  • 2021 Bristol, was held online via the gaming platform Minecraft, Zoom (software) and Discord (software).
  • 2020 Nottingham Festival website, the line up included Contrasaurus, Bearded dragons, and several others.
  • 2019 Edinburgh Festival website was held at Edinburgh University. The line-up included Hoik, The Night Before, Monkey Box, No&Mi, An Conasg, Hekety, Science Ceilidh, Matthew Maclennan Dance Band, Naragonia, Point Five
  • 2018 Sheffield.[3][4] Festival website. was held at Sheffield University and was the first year the festival went completely gender free for all its calling and workshops. The line-up included Melrose Quintet, Buddy System, Steamchicken, Emily and the Simons, Scottish Measure.
  • 2017 Cambridge Festival website.
  • 2016 Warwick Festival website. most notably Warwick IVFDF used coventry cathedral as a dance venue.
  • 2015 Exeter was held in the 'new buildings' of the University of Exeter and the Great Hall.
  • 2014 Edinburgh
  • 2013 Sheffield
  • 2012 Aberdeen
  • 2011 Bristol
  • 2010 was held at Durham University from 5 to 7 March 2010. The line-up included Eliza Carthy and Aidan Curran, Whapweasel and Martyn Harvey, Vertical Expression, Fidola, alongside many workshops and a Morris Tour.
  • 2009 happened in Exeter, between 27 February and 1 March. The line-up included Kate Rusby, The Demon Barbers. Jackie Oates also appeared with Jim Causley. Main ceilidhs were provided by The Committee Band and Stomp with over 40 workshops taking place over the weekend, as well as the infamous Survivor's Ceilidh! All events were back on one site, including sleeping, food and all the late night sessions. 2009 Festival website. The festival was attended by in excess of 1150 visitors, the most ever at any IVFDF.
  • 2008 Sheffield (29 February to 2 March).[5] Bands and artists appearing were Glory Strokes (Pete Rees), Vertical Expression (Andrew Swaine), The Gloworms (Nick Walden), Janiver (formed from previous Jabadaw members), Triple Scotch. There was also a concert with Crucible, Spiers & Boden. There were over 1000 visitors to the festival.
  • In 2007 the venue moved up north to Edinburgh University from 2–4 March. Bands included Peeping Tom and John Dipper, Various demonstration dances including Scottish and a dance to the soundtrack of The Sound of Music and diverse workshops.
  • In 2006 it was held on 24 – 26 February by Cambridge University with a committee made up of students and ex-students belonging to the universities' three folk orientated societies (Gog Magog Molly, The Round and The Strathspey and Reel Society). Because Cambridge does not have a single large students union building they hired a local school to accommodate the 1000+ attendees. Workshops held in various rooms, including the gym and sports hall, sessions in the library and common room, and sleeping in the maths classrooms. Many dance teams turned up, including Stone the Crows, Black Swan Rapper, and Pig Dyke Molly as well as the usual complement of university-based teams from all over the country.
  • 2005 Norwich
  • 2004, Exeter
  • 2003, Sheffield
  • 2002, St. Andrews
  • 2001, Cambridge
  • 2000, Glasgow
  • 1999, Exeter
  • 1998, Sheffield
  • 1997, Cambridge - Held mainly at Anglia Polytechnic University and venues around the city. This was the first IVFDF hosted in Cambridge
  • 1996, Edinburgh
  • 1995, Exeter
  • 1994, Manchester
  • 1993, Sheffield
  • 1992, East Anglia
  • 1991, Nottingham
  • 1990, Newcastle upon Tyne
  • 1989, Exeter
  • 1988, Edinburgh
  • 1987, Reading
  • 1986, Manchester
  • 1985, Southampton
  • 1984, Sheffield
  • 1983, Nottingham
  • 1982, Reading
  • 1981, Leeds
  • 1980, Durham
  • 1979, East Anglia
  • 1978, Southampton
  • 1977, Manchester
  • 1976, Edinburgh
  • 1975, London
  • 1974, Oxford
  • 1973, Liverpool
  • 1972, Durham
  • 1971, Nottingham
  • 1970, Reading - IVFDF extended to a 2-day festival as a ceilidh was arranged for those who were staying overnight on Friday
  • 1969, Strathclyde - Technically run by Glasgow, but under a different name.
  • 1968, Hull
  • 1967, Exeter
  • 1966, Liverpool
  • 1965, Newcastle
  • 1964, Sheffield
  • 1963, London
  • 1962, Manchester
  • 1961, Leeds
  • 1960, Glasgow
  • 1959, Nottingham
  • 1958, London
  • 1957, Bristol - The first to feature a Morris tour.
  • 1956, Manchester
  • 1955, Birmingham
  • 1954, Edinburgh
  • 1953, Sheffield
  • 1952, Newcastle
  • 1951, Leeds. This was the first festival, and at that time was not known as IVFDF


Society mascots are considered by some to be a large part of the festival, and those which can be seen being carried around include Cuthbert (Snake, The Round (Cambridge English and Contra dance society)), Hamish (Thistle, Cambridge University Strathspey & Reel Club), Nessie (Loch Ness Monster, Edinburgh), Floyd (Pig, Exeter), Rustle (Ceilidh Monster, Sheffield), Don (Elephant, Warwick), Charlie (Unicorn, Bristol), As yet & Unnames (Penguins, Sheffield), Duncan (Highland cow, Durham), a duck and a goose from Lancaster and York respectively. Mascot ransoming is now banned at IVFDF after several people sustained injuries at one festival. While Mascot ransoming has been banned, mascot intentional misplacement is prevalent at IVFDFs.


I can't believe it's not IVFDF (ICBINI) is a smaller annual spin-off festival held in November. The first ICBINI was held at Exeter in 2002.[6] ICBINI is like the main festival in many respects in that it is held at a different location each year and hosted by student folk societies, however if a suitible host cannot be found then a festival is not held that year. The activities are similar to those at IVFDF. The 2019 festival took place in York. There was no ICBINI in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

ICBINI History[edit]


  1. ^ "IVFDF". Retrieved 12 January 2021.
  2. ^ "The Inter Varsity Folk Dance Festival 2009 -". Retrieved 21 June 2021.
  3. ^ "Sheffield welcomes UK's longest running folk dance festival". The Star. 24 February 2018. Retrieved 22 March 2020.
  4. ^ "Sheffield hosts national folk music and dance festival". The Sheffield Telegraph. 16 February 2018. Retrieved 22 March 2020.
  5. ^ "BBC - Radio 2 - Folk and Acoustic". Retrieved 12 January 2021.
  6. ^ a b "University of Bristol Union : Folk Club : ICBINI". Archived from the original on 6 December 2003.
  7. ^ "History 2010 - 2019 - IVFDF". Retrieved 12 January 2021.

External links[edit]