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In 2001 a birthday party for local blues fan George Crane was planned. Newly-arrived resident Steve Darrington was asked to help organise a couple of bands in a nightclub, the idea caught on and some other pubs asked to join in. It was such a success that another one was planned for the next year, by which time it had become the 2nd Swanage Blues Festival. These March festivals became an annual event and October festivals were added in 2007. Then in 2012 the festival formed its own independent not-for-profit limited company to protect festival funds, and support wristbands were introduced. They provide visual proof of your donation and enable festival fans to recognise each other throughout the town. You can buy one a day or only one for the weekend, it’s up to you.
There’s live music, drinking, eating, dancing, fun and laughter across the town and beyond, starting with a preview on Thursday evening and going on till late Sunday. Fans love the friendly atmosphere, the wide range of music and the choice of venues. Musicians love the great audiences and being up close and personal, while aspiring performers can get their fill at the open mic and jam sessions. The local economy gets a boost on two weekends a year out of season.
From humble beginnings Swanage Blues Festival is nowadays regularly voted among the top five blues festivals in the UK.