Saffron Walden warms up for biggest community event of the year

Singer-songwriter Alice Walker will be performing at the festival.

Singer-songwriter Alice Walker will be performing at the festival. - Credit: Archant

The count-down is on for the town’s biggest community event of the year.

Fête de la Musique will sweep through Saffron Walden on the summer solstice on Sunday, June 21, when the town’s revellers will join thousands of others across Europe and the rest of the world for a weekend of astonishing musical diversity.

Pop acts, rock musicians, choral groups, brass bands and more are set to pop out of cafes, restaurants, and side streets across town – with around 60 acts signed up already.

“I’m really excited,” said Isabella Warren, who is organising the festival with other members of Saffron Walden Arts Trust (SWAT).

“It’s a challenge – we’re going to have around 200 performers.

“I think it could be a one-off event. Because the summer solstice falls on a Sunday it’s the perfect day.

“This year there’s no carnival or maze festival – it’s the biggest community event of the year.”

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Highlights for the musicathon include Saffron Walden’s finest, jazz sensation and former Sam Smith singing teacher Joanna Eden, who will be performing with her singing group, and 13-year-old singer-songwriter Tom Roddis.

27-year-old Alice Walker will also be captivating audiences with her unique voice and compositions, while the youngest addition to the festival will be nine-year-old Isla Osborne, from Great Chesterford.

And it’s not only the town’s musicians who will come to life. Residents and visitors will witness the town’s most prestigious venues in a new light, including Faircycroft House, Saffron Walden Museum, and the Town Hall.

Outdoor venues include Saffron Walden’s first American-built skate park in the UK, One Minet, the band stand in Jubilee Gardens, Market Square and Adnams courtyard, with a number of cafes and restaurants also set to take part in the festival.

Generous support for the festival has come from Yellow Car, Uttlesford District Council, the Town Council and Ridgeons, but human help is still needed to fulfil the day’s potential.

Around 30 more volunteers are needed to join those who have already offered their assistance, including the 11-strong Diamonds organisation, and Waitrose, which is providing some volunteers as part of their employee volunteering scheme.

“There are tasks for everyone and you can give an hour or be around for the whole fete,” co-organiser Pat Lodge told the Reporter.

“If you enjoy music volunteering at the event will be a great way to listen to a huge range.

“We’ll need volunteers for half an hour to an hour at a time, on the day to man venues in pairs to ensure smooth changeover between musicians, to help man the information desk in the Market Square and decorate the square, to help set up and then clear up.”

The organisers are also looking for any assistance from those with expertise in licences, health and safety and risk assessments.

Anyone who is able to give a small amount of their time to help the festival is asked to contact the Volunteer Uttlesford by ringing 01799 510525 or emailing

Keep up to date with the festival on Twitter by @saffronfete