Laurel Swift 

Musician, Composer, Dancer, Project Maker

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MidSummer Folk Music Retreat

June 22nd – 24th 2018

Thurlby, Lincs

A dynamic yet relaxing weekend away for players of all instruments, focusing on improving ensemble skills for playing folk music in small and large groups. A chance to learn new tunes and explore the many options for what to do with them. Hosted by Laurel Swift, this is a weekend of inspiring classes, homecooked food, informal sessions and country walks. The retreat will be a great way to learn new tunes, make new friends and discover a new part of the country with a wander through The Fens and nearby Rutland Water!


All players are all welcome, whether new to folk music, seasoned folkies, or somewhere inbetween. The retreat is designed for a wide range of players. We will work predominantly by ear and assume that either you are confident at working by ear or you are of ‘intermediate standard’ or above on your instrument. Please get in touch if you’d like to discuss whether the course is suitable for you (if it sounds fun, then it probably is!).


Friday – Arrival from 6pm onwards. Hot meal throughout the evening. Introduction to the weekend and informal playing.  


Saturday Morning - Learn a tune plus ways to accompany it, crash course in chords. Group exercises to improve tone, rhythm and build confidence.


Saturday Afternoon - Intensive sessions building performance confidence in a smaller group. Opportunities to explore the local area on foot or just read a good book and relax.


Saturday Night - As evening draws in there will be dinner and after that, anything goes, we’ll fill the space with laughter, have a drink and play some tunes!


Sunday Morning - The opportunity to perform group pieces you’ve developed over the weekend (not compulsory!), a final new tune and a consolidation session.


We leave the hostel after lunch.  If you’re in no rush to get home, there are plenty more walks in The Fens and nearby Rutland Water, one of the most important areas for bird life in Great Britain.


YHA Thurlby is a 15th century former village forge with a lovely lawned garden and orchard. It is located in a peaceful spot in the centre of an unspoilt Lincolnshire village. The homely former forge is full of character and has both Victorian and Georgian additions to the building - perfect for history buffs!  It has 18 beds in dorm rooms. The cosy lounge has a television, plus various books and games and there is also a quiet reading area to get some peace and quiet after your day. There is a large car park adjacent to the hostel for those travelling by car & station pickups can be arranged.



(If you would prefer to stay at a local B&B please do! However, please note that the price of the retreat remains at £160 as we can still only accommodate 16 students in class.)


All meals from Friday tea through to Sunday lunch will be provided, plus hot drinks anytime. We will be cooking as a group, which is an important part of the retreat experience! Everyone will be expected to participate in preparing or washing up one meal. Food will be basic but wholesome and tasty, and we should be able to cater for most allergies, etc. Feel free to discuss any concerns.



£160 for the full weekend,

including all meals and dormitory accommodation

(bunk-beds in single-sex rooms).

There are local B&Bs if you prefer (although we recommend the full immersive experience!)


£110 concessions* 

- please see further information for details of our concessions policy.


£50 deposit** now to reserve your place, with full payment due one month prior to the event.


Use the Paypal link to book your Folk Music Retreat at Thurlby, and please make sure to specify what dorm you would like in the 'additional information'.


If you’d like to avoid charges, you can pay by BACS or cheque, CLICK HERE!


(Please note that Paypal's handling charge is 3.5% which will be displayed as a postage cost.)

* We are offering concessions in order to make this event as accessible as possible. The concession price is intended for people on low income for whatever reason - low pension, student loans, or un/low-waged. Please use your discretion! We don't want to exclude anyone from the retreat, but equally would ask you to pay the full price if you are able to.


** The remainder of the payment must be paid by BAC or by cheque no later than one month before event date. If the payment is late, the deposit and the reserved place will be lost. If you are having any problems with the final payment and would like to discuss please email