The new Return to London Town festival this weekend will be launched by one of Donegal’s best known bands Altan. The annual festival will run from this Friday 25 October to Monday 28 October.
The festival has a new look, a new name, and a new address.
Rebranded after 20 years as Return to Camden Town, its organisers Irish Music and Dance in London have decamped to the arguably even more Irish locale of Cricklewood.
For two decade Return to London Town took place in the London borough of that name, but Return to London Town will be in Cricklewood, which with Kilburn, was once synonymous with Irish music and dance halls.
There will be 17 sessions across four venues, over four days with approximately 60 musicians/ singers taking part.
The format of the festival remains the same with concerts, céilís, instrumental and singing workshops, sessions and album launches. It enables those in and around London who love Irish music to meet, play together and celebrate the finest traditional musicians, singers and dancers.
The festival opens with Altan headlining Friday night’s entertainment.
Led by lead vocalist and fiddle player Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh Altan signed by Virgin in the 1990s and paved the way for many bands who followed. They have also played with greats like Dolly Parton, Enya, The Chieftains, Bonnie Raitt and Alison Krauss.
The rest of this year’s line-up features Len Graham, The Mulcahy Family, Johnny Óg Connolly and Cliodhna Costello, Paddy Tutty, Caoimhín and Seán Ó Fearghaill, Conor Connolly, Eileen O’Brien, The Housekeepers (Doireann Glackin and Sarah Flynn), Páraic Mac Donnchadha, Graham Wells and Noel O’Grady and The Parish Céilí Band.
The North West London areas of Kilburn and Cricklewood have been well known for having large populations of Irish people since the 1950s and London’s most iconic Irish dance hall, The Galtymore, opened its doors on Cricklewood Broadway in 1952 and closed in 2008.
The Crown became well known as a meeting place for Irish people in London during the 1950s and 60s and was famously referenced in the Dominic Behan song McAlpine’s Fusiliers, sung by The Dubliners.