Aug 18, 2022 - Things to Do

Philadelphia Folk Festival returns in person

A photo of the members of the band Arrested Development
The lineup for the Philadelphia Folk Festival includes hip hop group Arrested Development. Photo courtesy of the Philadelphia Folk Festival

Live music is back at the Old Pool Farm in Montgomery County as the Philadelphia Folk Festival returns in person for the first time since 2019.

Driving the news: The festival kicks off its 60th anniversary today with scores of performances through Sunday at the Upper Salford Township farm, about an hour outside the city.

  • Top headliners include the Punch Brothers and Watchhouse, the War and Treaty, and Michael Franti and Spearhead.
  • Tickets: Free-$545, and $65 to stream the event.

Why it matters: The festival, which started in 1962, is the longest continuously running festival in the country (it went virtual the past two years) and is a launchpad for artists to connect with new audiences.

  • "You will leave here finding your new favorite artist and your new favorite obsession with somebody you would never even known existed before you stepped foot on these grounds," says Justin Nordell, executive director of the Philadelphia Folksong Society, which puts on the annual event.

Details: About 80 acts will play over seven stages at the 84-acre working farm.

  • More than 6,500 people are expected to camp at the farm.
  • The event is expected to draw at least 25,000 people.
  • More than 1,000 volunteers help put on the festival.

Be smart: Nordell recommends checking out the Culture Tent, a small-audience stage where musicians will perform, provide interviews and engage with attendees.

  • "It's something you don't get a lot at a lot of music festivals. It's a really, really magical space," he tells Axios.

Zoom out: This weekend's weather looks promising, with temps in the 80s, sunny skies and only a slight chance of afternoon rain showers on Saturday and Sunday.

State of play: The cost of putting on the festival has risen sharply post-pandemic, and now tops $1 million for vendors and performers, up more than 50% compared to a decade ago, Nordell says.

Between the lines: The Folksong Society has experienced a series of financial challenges in recent years that raised concerns over the future of the group and festival.

  • Yes, but: Nordell says he helped raise more than $800,000 for the society over the past two years and ticket sales are the best they've been since at least 2015.

What's next: Organizers are already planning and booking artists for next year's festival.

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