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Sheffield Carols Day – 26 November

Tis so very nearly the season for all things Christmassy. And what better way to kick off the festive fun than with Sheffield Carols Day – a whole day dedicated to celebrating local Sheffield carols. We had a natter with Gina Walters about what it is and how everyone can get involved.

What is Sheffield Carols Day and when is it happening?
Sheffield Carols Day is a celebration of the local Sheffield carolling tradition. Did you know that Sheffield has a set of its own carols that pre-date traditional Christmas carols? Generally speaking you’ll only hear them in North Sheffield pubs on a Sunday, being sung out raucously by the punters, accompanied by a small band or an organ over a few pints! So we’ll be bringing them into the city centre at the Winter Garden for everyone to discover and to let everyone have the chance to own a part of their city’s heritage. Beer optional.

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The event is being hosted by Soundpost, who are they and what do they do?
Soundpost was founded in 2011 by folk musicians Fay Hield, Sam Sweeney, Andy Bell and Jon Boden and has grown into something much bigger than we ever anticipated. We exist to provide an accessible, friendly way into traditional music for the uninitiated but also to encourage more seasoned folk musicians to think more deeply about the tradition they’re involved with and the stories they’re telling. Our annual weekends away, often run by musicians at the forefront of the folk music scene, attract international attention but we also put on a variety of local day-long workshops throughout the year for fiddle players, singers, squeeze box players and more. We’ve started a weekly folk band too, The Folk Factory, it’s on a Wednesday night at Dungworth Village Hall and is open to children and adults. All instruments and abilities welcome!

The day also includes a workshop, what will it involve?
This workshop is absolutely perfect for someone who has absolutely no clue about the local Sheffield carols. Expert Ian Russell will be teaching eight of the popular carols and discussing their history and relevance. All the carols are in keys pitched for any voice and they’re incredibly catchy, so you don’t need to be able to read music or have any singing experience at all – just a willingness to learn and have a laugh doing it! The whole workshop group will be performing the carols they’ve just learned at 2pm in the Winter Garden, so you can test them out. Plus once you’ve learned them, you can take your pals to a North Sheffield pub in December and teach them the tunes!

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Can anyone join in on Sheffield Carols Day, and is a good singing voice a pre-requisite?
These carols are for everyone. You don’t need to be able to sing beautifully, in fact, it’s unlikely you’ll hear any of these carols sung quite like the ones you usually hear in church – they’re often much more rowdy! So come on down to the Winter Garden from 10am-2.30pm to see what it’s all about, or book onto Ian’s workshop for a closer look at Sheffield’s very own carolling tradition and perform them yourself at 2pm.

Book your place on the Sheffield Carols Day Workshop here.

Interview by Felicity Jackson

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