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Festive Music Retreat

Monday 11 Dec 4pm — Friday 15 Dec 10am, 2023

To make a booking enquiry please complete the form below. We will contact you to confirm availability and complete your booking.


Full board per person (tuition, activities, all meals & accommodation):

  • £400– single ensuite room
  • £365– sharing an ensuite room
  • £365– single non-ensuite room
  • £330 – sharing non-ensuite room

Camping per person (tuition, activities, all meals):

  • £240

Non Resident (tuition, activities, all meals except breakfast):

  • £225

Due to the success of last years course we are delighted to welcome back Matt Norman for a feast of festive fun! This year Alison Rowley will be stepping into Laurel Swift’s shoes, and both singers and musicians are invited to join in a cheer-filled week of seasonal folkiness.

  • Sing and play traditional folk carols in harmony
  • Learn some great new folk tunes and creative things to do with them
  • A spot of seasonal crafting with tree decorations to take home
  • Write a brand new carol
  • An introduction to Dartmoor step dancing and playing for dancing
  • Optional walks in the beautiful Quantock Hills, weather permitting

We hope to see you there and will get mulling the cider!

Who is it For?

Singers and musicians, all instruments, all abilities. There will be a range of parts, notation parts in all clefs and keys available. We will work both by ear and with dots. We want this week to be fun for all, with guidance and support to help you develop your musicality, at whatever level you’re at.

The Team

Alison Rowley is a professional musician, music teacher, workshop leader and traditional dance caller with a Music degree from the University of Cambridge.

She performs in ceilidh bands across the South West including Bristol Ceilidh Quartet and (in summer 2023) Crowdy-Kit, and at private functions as a solo violinist. She is also a highly experienced maypole dance instructor and ceilidh caller who has worked with many renowned bands including Whapweasel, Out Of Hand, and Granny’s Attic.

Alison teaches violin, fiddle and piano to private students across Bristol. She is the current Musical Director of the Brigstowe Village Band (a role previously held by both Matt Norman and Laurel Swift), and a tutor at Halsway Manor‘s action-packed Family Folk Week. She has also worked as a tutor/project leader for many other folk music projects including youth folk ensembles for Cambridgeshire Music and Kent Music, adult folk and ukulele bands, and youth workshops with EFDSS and Shooting Roots.

Alison was a Creative Artist in Residence at Cecil Sharp House in 2013, composing an orchestral fantasia of Cotswold morris tunes from the repertoire of the now-defunct Beaux Of London City, entitled Morris Monday. She also writes new folk tunes.

“Alison is a skilled, inspirational teacher. Thoughtful and responsive to learners’ needs, she draws the best out of all players from tentative beginners to those more experienced and skilled. Her well-paced sessions are informative, challenging and fun!” – Liz Newman (Gaffer, Brigstowe Village Band)

Matt Norman is a performer, teacher, composer, arranger, workshop leader and conductor.

He predominantly works with traditional English music, steeped in the traditions of Devon and Dartmoor. He is also blues and classical musician, and a Dartmoor Step Dance Champion!

As a multi-instrumentalist, Matt plays mandolin, fiddle, mandola, banjos, piano and also sings. He performs solo and in bands including Gadarene and A New Vintage ceilidh band, and regularly deps in other line-ups. He’s also a singer and choir-leader.

Matt’s extensive teaching experience includes working in community and festival settings with all ages and abilities. He has a relaxed, fun and accessible approach to learning, tailored very much to the group. He has a broad expertise embracing mixed-instrument ensembles, choral and voice work, instrument specific tuition (mandolin, fiddle, banjo), and also step dancing.