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Folk winners at sweeps' festival

PUBLISHED: 16:08 10 February 2010 | UPDATED: 17:21 16 August 2010

TWO of the big winners from BBC Radio 2 s Folk Awards will headline the country s largest May Day celebration. The Rochester Sweeps Festival, held annually, will take place over the weekend beginning Saturday, May 1. Now in its 30th year, the three-day

TWO of the big winners from BBC Radio 2's Folk Awards will headline the country's largest May Day celebration.

The Rochester Sweeps Festival, held annually, will take place over the weekend beginning Saturday, May 1.

Now in its 30th year, the three-day event recreates the celebrations of the chimney sweeps' traditional holiday, attracting entertainers and musicians from across the UK.

Tickets are now on sale for Bellowhead, who were named Best Live Act at Folk Awards on February 1, and are performing at the Rochester Castle Gardens Marquee on May 1.

Irish folk singer Cara Dillon will take the Castle Gardens stage on the Sunday, and picked up the prize for Best Album for her fourth CD, Hill of Thieves.

A spokesperson for Medway Council, its organisers, said: "The event is the largest May Day celebration of its kind in the country, bringing together street entertainers, local chimney sweeps, Morris dancers and fantastic live music in a riot of colour, dancing and revelry.

"The festivities start with the traditional Jack-in-the-Green Awakening Ceremony at Blue Bell Hill through to a massive procession through Rochester to round off the celebrations on Bank Holiday Monday."

The Sweeps Festival was celebrated up until the early 1900s, when it stopped because of the new laws on employing young boys in the chimney sweep trade.

In 1981, the festival was revived by Rochester historian Gordon Newton, who organised a small parade involving Morris teams. It is now organised by Medway Council and draws hundreds of visitors to the town each year.

Tickets cost £20 for Bellowhead and £18 for Cara Dillon, and are available from The Central and Brook Theatre box office on 01634 338 338 or online at medway.gov.uk/theatrebooking.

Alternatively, tickets can be purchased in person from Medway Visitor Information Centre at 95 High Street, Rochester.

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