Nobody's Floorless: Bulverton

by The Sidmouth Folk Festival in Sidmouth, Devon, United Kingdom

Nobody's Floorless: Bulverton
We did it
On 27th July 2023 we successfully raised £21,245 ( + est. £3670.75 Gift Aid ) with 601 supporters in 6 days

Help us floor the Bulverton! After your incredible community response when the Bulverton was under threat, we're coming to you for help.

by The Sidmouth Folk Festival in Sidmouth, Devon, United Kingdom

 New stretch target

Thank you so much to the wonderful Sidmouth Folk Festival community who have given so generously to ensure the Bulverton has a dance floor this year. You did it!

Funds coming in beyond our initial target will go towards future-proofing the Bulverton and investing in it as a festival site - immediate costs may include maintenance during this year's festival. But if we can level the top of the field later this year, it will make for a much more stable foundation (literally and metaphorically!) for future festivals.

The Festival has someone coming to look at the site w/c 24th July for feasibility quote, but we won't get a full financial quote until after this years event. If there are additional funds on top of that we can look at further infrastructure improvements for access. 


#Team Bulverton

Barely 24 hours into our crowdfunder and we’re at 95% of our STRETCH target of £20,000!

You all have been amazing. Your enthusiasm, your memories, your dreams of future LNEs have made so much possible – more than we had even hoped possible a week ago (who knew that levelling the Bulverton was anything more than a passing thought as we struggled up – or down - the hill in the mud late at night?).

You may have noticed that we’ve kept the fundraiser open with a new stretch target of £25,000.

Now that we know the funding is in place – the floor/crew/materials will be ordered.  Now that we know we’re almost at the first stretch target – meetings are now in process to work out the exact costs for the site work (work that will happen after this year’s festival).  We hope to come back to you next week with more details.

In the meantime – the Festival Team is putting the finishing touches to the LNE Programme – which we are intending to release first – HERE – next week. 

Watch this space – and keep sharing the crowd funder!


THANK YOU so much everyone, both for the depth, breadth, and volume of feeling, to the Festival for listening, to the small team of additional volunteers, and to each and everyone of you for putting your hands in your pocket. Whether that be £5 or £100, everyone is very grateful.

Now that we’ve smashed the original target of £10,500 in just over three hours, we can tell you about our stretch target. To ensure the continuation of the Bulverton as a dance venue next year and in future years, we have decided to keep the crowdfunder open and use these additional funds to aid sustainability for the Bulverton by seriously reducing the costs of putting up the marquee every year (and support any maintenance required this year).

The money we raise from now on will go towards an ambitious project to level the top of Bulverton hill - not the whole hill - but the site where the marquee usually sits.  At the moment one of the serious challenges faced each year - with logistics as well as costs - is that with the site of the dance floor - is 1.5m higher at one end than the other. This means installing a floor is costly, time-consuming and technically difficult (and we still are all familiar with sets sliding one way or another). 

The landowner has agreed in principle to allow the festival to level the site for the marquee and improve access to reduce the cost of setting up a dance venue in future years. The Festival has a company visiting the site for an initial quote next week.  This will cost money now, but it will enable us to set up a major dance venue at Sidmouth next year and for many years beyond - keeping LNEs and dance at the centre of the festival where they belong. Our intention is to return next year to a venue that is modern, accessible for all and a fabulous place to hold the magical nights we have all enjoyed so much in the past.

If gifts can keep coming in over the next few days (all gifts through this crowdfunder are being ringfenced for the Bulverton) - we'll keep working on getting more fixed plans and costs for this levelling project - which would need to happen after the festival.  

There might even be a few other improvements that have been on a long term wish list which we can share over the coming days. 

But for the moment - you are all amazing - and keep those gifts coming in. 

In gratitude,



The Sidmouth Folk Festival has been proudly championing traditional music, dance and song since 1955. One of the things we're proudest of about the festival (and one of the things we know our audiences come back for year after year) is the sheer diversity of experiences, meaning no two visitors will experience quite the same festival.

For many festival-goers, the heart of their festival experience is the Bulverton marquee - uphill from the campsite, it hosts raucous and high-energy gigs and ceilidhs, workshops, sessions, morris spots and music-making into the small hours.


What's the problem?

Like many festivals and live events, Sidmouth Folk Festival is still dealing with the fallout from 2020-21 as well as the ongoing cost of living crisis. Some festival infrastructure suppliers have sadly had to close their doors, others have been forced to put their prices up significantly, still others simply have less available for hire than they used to.

As a result of this (as many festival organisers will recognise) this year's plans haven't happened as early in the year as we hoped - things we would usually have confirmed in winter, for example, have had to be pushed back by months.

In a fast-changing events landscape, this has meant some prices quickly outstripped our original budget. We know how important the Bulverton is to you, which is why we've already made changes to the marquee plans to make sure the venue is in place. While Betsy’s Lounge will look the same, we’ve found a more affordable style of tent for the dance/concert space – one that will have poles in the tent. 

One of the big challenges we’ve faced is how to make a quality dance floor work – financially as well as logistically, with costs continuing to rise across the festival; how to keep a dance element in this space while still delivering a full daytime programme, headline standing gigs and late-night events, the famous volunteer-run Bulverton Bar and (very) late-night sessions.

We made a decision that keeping the Bulverton without the LNE ceilidhs would meet the needs of our audiences - rather than no Bulverton at all.

But we made the wrong call. And as we were running out of time, we didn't give you the chance to have your say.

Your response

When we spoke to the affected performers and ticket holders, we heard you loud and clear. Thank you to everyone who has spoken up over the last few days to make it clear how important that dance floor is to that mix. We’re right there with you – your feedback matters, and together we think we’ve found a way forward.

 What you’ve told us:   

  • For some festival-goers, the LNE ceilidhs are your main reason for coming to Sidmouth
  • The dance floor at the Bulverton makes it accessible for those who use wheelchairs and other mobility aids
  • The LNE ceilidhs are a major incentive for hard-working volunteer stewards who finally get a chance to get up and dance at the end of the night
  • Dance sides love the late-night spots, and dancing on grass is hard work
  • You want to confidently know the Bulverton magic is an integral and valued part of the festival - not just for this year, but into the future


So what now?

You told us you'd be willing to chip in to cover the costs of this year's dance floor rather than go without - THANK YOU.

The Great News: We've found a supplier who can offer wooden dance boards (similar to those we use in the Blackmore) including transport to Sidmouth and moving it up the hill from the campsite. To get it safely installed, we'll also need to cover the cost of crew, installation, and custom carpentry. 

*IMPORTANT NOTE: these boards are not what the festival would usually use on this site due to the installation on very uneven ground, and the dancefloor will be smaller than last year by one-third* 

We'll also need to cover the cost of transaction fees which comes with taking payments online. (Amazingly, thanks to a generous donor, we don't need to cover the cost of designing and producing your exclusive campaign badges.)

Floor hire and transport to/from site: £4,500

Crew to lay out and level the floor safely: min. £2,500

Hire of scaffold boards to lay the floor onto: est. £1,500

Custom carpentry to fit and build access ramps etc: est. £1,000

Dance floor lighting: £200

Transaction costs and fees: £200

Contingency: £600 

Total £10,500 (net)

We're running perhaps the shortest crowdfunding campaign we've ever seen. Although the crowdfunding campaign 'officially' finishes later, we have to know by Monday 24 July if we're going to go ahead or not. If we haven't hit the target by Monday afternoon, we'll end the campaign early. So we really need your help.

Whether or not you can back us yourself, please help us get this to the whole festival community - share it with your ceilidh gang, your morris-dancing and clog friends, your social dancers, the first-timers, the old-timers, the Shooting Roots gang, the campsite crew, the unstoppable stewards... everyone who's made that walk up the hill (or the drive down those tiny lanes) an essential part of their Sidmouth.

If we can raise the funds by Monday 24th July, we can get the floor booked in and installed ready to open the festival on Friday 4th August. The minimum length for Crowdfunder is seven days, but we need to lock in the suppliers before then.

What do you get?

A dance floor at the Bulverton!

An opportunity to contribute to the long-term sustainability of the Bulverton. 

What's more – if you’re at the festival – we’ll give every donor (who’s given any amount and chosen a reward) a specifically created badge to proudly wear across the festival.  These are being designed and paid for by generous volunteers and we’ll share the design as soon as we’ve got it. Make sure you choose a reward on the giving page or from the campaign page itself, so we’ll have your name on our list of supporters to receive a badge.  



Is there a minimum donation?

Absolutely not! Please pledge whatever you can – the LNE Community is just that: a community – and we all want to share in making this effort a success.  Obviously, if you can give a bit more it will help us reach our target by Monday the 24th July when we have to push ‘go’ on ordering the floor. 

What happens to my money if you don't hit the target?

You'll be refunded in full.

What happens at Sidmouth if you don't hit the target?

We won't be able to run LNEs as ceilidhs this year - but we're committed to still running Bulverton gigs, workshops, sessions, and Betsy's, plus Late Night Extras with special festival guests. Plus, when you want to get your dance on, you can still go to the full programme of dance elsewhere at the festival including Blackmore ceilidhs, Anchor Gardens ceilidhs, social & Euro dances at All Saints Church Hall, St Teresa's Church Hall, Stowford Community Centre, Methodist Church Hall & the Con Club, and a full range of Morris, English, American, Irish, Scandi, Euro, Scottish and step workshops. 

What happens if we collectively exceed our target?

This is where sustainability comes in.  This is a one-off fundraiser for 2023 but there are plans – plans that will take some investment – that will make the economies of the Bulverton much more viable over the future, and any excess from this fundraiser will be put towards those.  But we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves. If it looks like we’re hitting this initial target, we’ll update with a ‘stretch’ target and details on what those future plans will look like (and cost). 

Hosted by Sidmouth FolkWeek Ltd. No: 1111958

Gift Aid - donations eligible for Gift Aid will be verified and paid out after the end of the 23/24 tax year.


This project offers rewards in return for your donation. Please select a reward below.

£5 or more

Bulverton backer (claim at the festival)

THANK YOU!! Your support may make all the difference for this year's festival. When you arrive at Sidmouth Folk Festival this year, please come to the ticket office or the Bulverton itself and claim your badge. Wear it proudly for the rest of the week - and beyond! PS - want to see us hit the target faster? You can choose to pledge more than £5!

£8 or more

Bulverton backer (by post)

THANK YOU!! Your support may make all the difference for this year's festival. Can't make it to the festival? Don't worry, we can post your badge, the extra donation helps cover that cost. Wear it proudly for the summer - and beyond! PS - want to see us hit the target faster? You can choose to pledge more than £8!

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