About Our Retreats
Folk Singing Retreats offers weekend singing holidays in the UK, run by Bristol-based folk musicians and choir directors Heg Brignall and Julu Irvine. The retreats are open to both individual singers and musicians as well as established choirs and groups. The weekends incorporate focused workshops where the group learns a cappella arrangements, singing technique and harmony skills, with song shares around the fire in the evenings, improvisation, walks, yoga, instrument sessions and more. The retreats run out-of-season offering a cosy alternative to summer singing camps.
Whether you are a keen singer, musician, choir-goer or have always wanted to try singing, these retreats are the perfect opportunity to immerse yourself in music in a relaxed, friendly environment.
Each retreat is built on foundation of mutual respect and acceptance. Collectively we aim to create a space which is supportive and encouraging. For some people, coming to a retreat and sharing songs can feel like a nerve-wracking experience and singing in front of new people can be a big barrier to overcome. The team are mindful of this and will be there to ensure that as a group we create a welcoming and friendly environment together, that allows all participants to feel secure and listened to.
Every retreat is a no-phone-zone, giving participants a chance to take a break from the relentlessness of technology and communication, allowing everyone to be present in the moment throughout the weekend.
Our retreats are open to anyone and are founded on an ethos of mutual respect and trust. We treat everyone equally, with fairness, dignity and respect and without discrimination based on gender, race, sexuality, religion, disability or age.
LOCATION AND ACCOMMODATION
All the retreats are held at YHA hostels at carefully picked out locations all of which make for an inspirational setting for singing and music making. Previous retreats have taken place on the dramatic Pembrokeshire coast and on Cornwall's famous Lizard Peninsular. Both locations boast some of the most breath taking views and walking trails in the UK as well as accommodation which is perfect for a cosy, out-of-season hideaways.
The retreats offer the perfect spaces for engaging singing workshops inside and get-away-from-it-all landscapes on the doorstep for adventuring out into whatever the weather.
Read more about accommodation>>
Walking is a big part of the weekend giving each singer the chance to relax in the great outdoors. Using well laid out coastal path routes and designated trails, we explore the surrounding scenery on foot. Although we follow coastal paths and trails, some of the walking is challenging We advise that participants with health complaints or those who are worried about their fitness level should seek doctor’s advice before booking.
All walks are led by a member of the team but are not professional guided walks and are undertaken at the participants own risk. Please make sure you have read our T&Cs.
All food is provided throughout the weekend and is completely vegetarian. Vegans, allergies and intolerances are also easily catered for. The meals are simple but hearty and warming and are enjoyed together as a group. Meal times are a chance to reflect on the day and get to know each other more over a plate of delicious freshly cooked food. A glass of wine is provided with each evening meal and participants are welcome to bring their own drinks for the evening song shares.
There are several singing workshops spread throughout each day and every retreat is slightly different. Each workshop incorporates breathing and singing technique alongside learning folk and world songs in harmony. The workshops are relaxed and fun yet informative, allowing you to explore your voice, how you use it and what might be holding you back. The weekend starts with easy, quickly learnt rounds and loops and then on to learning snippets of songs which we return to each day and build upon. By the end of the weekend you will have learnt lots of short, easy tunes as well as several more complex arrangements. At the end of the weekend, we record what we've learnt.
Heg works hard to bring the group together in song, quickly diminishing any nerves with harmony songs that are easily achievable for complete beginners. Read more here>>
Evenings are a chance to unwind around the fire, share songs and play music together. This is the more informal element to the weekend where you are encouraged to bring your own contributions to the group; whether it's a song you've written, learnt from memory or a book, a round, call and response, solo, a cappella, instrumental or accompanied, anything goes. The team facilitates this session to get the group started; often with call and response sea shanties and other folk songs.
There is plenty of time throughout the weekend to relax with a cup of tea and a biscuit, take it easy by the fire or explore the wonderful surroundings outside in your own time.
Optional morning yoga sessions are led by one of our experienced yoga teachers before breakfast each day. The sessions centre on breathing and opening the body up ready for singing. The sessions bring calm and focus to the day ahead. Classes are aimed at complete beginners and allow more experienced practitioners the chance to focus their yoga towards breathing and singing. Go to our team page to read more about each of our teachers and their approach to their classes.
"What a weekend! A fantastic collection of songs to challenge, satisfy and entertain! The setting was magical." CHRIS M
"A fantastic bonding experience, I felt very appreciated, welcomed and solidly part of a community." JOANNE
"Loved every moment, and what a perfect place it was" HEATHER
"For anyone who loves singing but maybe isn't that confident, it's the perfect thing" JOHN
"We had a fantastic weekend totally immersed in music. Song singing and music playing with a great bunch of people in a beautiful place. Heg is a fantastic leader!
Thoroughly recommended." HELEN
"Learnt some lovely songs, increased my singing confidence, got to know people and cemented friendships. The balance of structure and informal was just right. Really made me determined to learn more explore more and listen to more folk music" CHRIS R