MORRIS dancers and more of the colourful participants in this bank holiday weekend’s Shrewsbury Folk Festival hit the streets of the border town this Saturday (August 25) in a celebration parade.

The four day festival gets under way on Friday, for the start of more than 76 hours of music on three main stages, a dedicated dance programme, and fun-packed stand-alone kids and youth festivals all on the riverside showground.

Headliners include Steeleye Span on Sunday. One of the pioneers of folk rock and one of the most influential names in British roots music, Steeleye celebrate their 50th anniversary next year with vocalist Maddy Prior remaining at the centre of line-ups that have come and gone over the years and have have included Bishops Castle’s John Kirkpatrick as well as Gay and Terry Woods, Ashley Hutchings and Martin Carthy, with crossover hits along the way like 'All Around My Hat' and 'Gaudete'.

Former long serving violinist with Steeleye, Peter Knight will also be at the festival with his Gigspanner Big Band as well as an appearance with Jon Spiers, former melodeon player with Bellowhead, while Bellowhead vocalist Jon Boden appears with his Remnant Kings.

John Kirkpatrick is also there with his family ceilidh band Kirkophony.

Recently seen at Bishops Castle the fabulous Anglo-Irish bluegrass female band Midnight Skyracer will be one of the opening day bands, while North Country duo Belinda O’Hooley and Heidi Tidow, who have recorded and appeared live at Machynlleth, return also leading another appearance of The Passerine, the multi-national grouping that premiered to great acclaim at last year’s festival. This year they will be appearing on Sunday focussing on the theme of 'Women in Transit' as part of the festival’s 'Room for All' project.

Belinda and Heidi will be joined again by last year’s wonderful musicians Avital Raz, Sarah Yaseen, Vijay Venkat and Mina Salama, plus this year Irish percussionist Cormac Byrne and the Magic Numbers bassist Michele Stodart.

Among the many other playing over the weekend are the Richard Thompson Electric Trio, Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel, Blowzabella, Show of Hands, Gretchen Peters, Megson, Skerryvote and Edgelarks, plus numerous other attractions.

Space for new faces at the festival include the Launchpad stage which will provide a platform for new young musicians on all four days with the selected applicants including the Shrewsbury-based Effervescent female trio whose debut single 'My Mind and I' was a Radio Shropshire 'Song of the Month', and the band Saint Loe which features Shropshire brothers Dan and Alex.

Outside the festival village site, there are also gigs and sessions going on in the town at the Bird In Hand, The Brittania and The Wheatsheaf.

For full details and remaining ticket availability go to the website.