Street Choirs Festival – a brief history
First held in Sheffield in 1983 as the ‘National Street Band Festival’, the Street Choirs Festival brought together musicians who played in the signature marches and protests of a turbulent decade politically defined by Thatcherism, the Falklands/Malvinas war, and the miners’ strike.
The intention of the Festival was to put the music into protest to make it more creative, joyful and thought-provoking.
The festival carried on as the National Street Choirs Festival and in 2013 ‘National’ was dropped from the Festival’s title to extend a welcome to choirs from all nations of the UK.
With its roots in the North of England, the Festival has blossomed across the UK, from Edinburgh to Brighton, Aberystwyth to Whitby.
Since its inception the Festival has expanded to welcome community choirs who sing together for a variety of reasons, not least the sheer love of singing, and the range of Street Choirs now includes anarchist choirs, women’s choirs, LGBTQ choirs, choirs of women asylum seekers, choirs singing to raise awareness of human rights, and community choirs simply enjoying singing together.
The Festival ‘anthem’ is Billy Bragg’s 1990 version of the Internationale.
The image above is from the 2016 festival which was held in Leicester.