Return to Camden Town (RtCT) is a Festival of traditional Irish music, song and dance including over 40 events: concerts, céilis, workshops, free performances and sessions. RtCT features high profile international artists and highly regarded local and young, up and coming musicians. It was founded in 1999 to address the lack of opportunities to celebrate and nurture the genre within the community despite the large numbers of musicians, singers and dancers here. Hosted throughout Camden, ticket costs are set at affordable levels to make RtCT as accessible as possible. The Festival is concentrated over two long weekends: the first – Thursday to Sunday, coinciding with the Irish Bank Holiday weekend at the end of October features music and song events and the second – Friday to Sunday, features mainly set dancing events with music and singing sessions also. Free events on both weekends give newcomers the opportunity to experience the tradition up close.
Camden Town is recognised in the traditional Irish music community as playing an important role in nurturing the tradition. Since mass emigration in the 1950s and 60s, many immigrants from Ireland came together in the local pubs to practice the traditional music of their homeland - the first time so many regional Irish styles had come together in such a setting.
These days there are still a large number of great traditional musicians, music followers, dancers and singers in the City, including a large number of talented younger players from succeeding generations. The Festival has provided an excellent focus for purveyors and learners of the tradition and has sent a clear message to touring traditional Irish artists that London is firmly on the map. It has also served to expose this wonderful tradition to London's wider multicultural population. Due to the unfortunate financial climate which currently exists in Ireland large numbers are emigrating to London once more – the music community maintained by RtCT will continue to be a welcoming first point of contact for any traditional Irish musicians among these new emigrants.
The Festival takes place predominantly at the London Irish Centre on Camden Square and also uses some satellite venues within the Borough of Camden. The venue has two performance spaces, a bar for sessions, a restaurant and a number of additional spaces for workshops – the entire venue is a hive of activity throughout the days and nights of the Festival. Then festivities continue at the RtCT Festival club at The Cobden on Camden High Street, from midnight onwards. The RtCT Organising Group also hosts various Festival preview events at other times of the year, often at other venues including: West Yard, Camden Lock Market, Cecil Sharp House, The Roundhouse, The Forge and more.
The list of artists who have appeared since the Festival’s inception is too large to state here, but includes: Altan/ Danú/ Lúnasa/ De Dannan/ Dervish/ Le Chéile/ Cherish the Ladies/ The London Lasses and Pete Quinn/ Patrick Street/ Téada/ Brock Maguire Band/ At First Light/ The Long Notes/ Líadan/ Caladh Nua/ Matt Molloy, John Carty and Arty McGlynn/ Tommy Peoples, James Byrne (RIP) and Danny Meehan/ Liz Carroll and John Doyle/ Noel Hill, Tony Linane and Alec Finn/ Mary Bergin/ Peter Horan (RIP) and Gerry Harrington/ Brendan McGlinchey/ Brian Rooney/ Séamus Begley/ Paddy Keenan and Tommy O’Sullivan/ James Kelly/ Mairtín O’Connor, Cathal Hayden and Séamie O’Dowd/ Joe Burke, Brian Conway and Felix Dolan/ The McCarthy Family/ Liz and Yvonne Kane and Edel Fox/ The Mulcahy Family/ Mike McGoldrick/ Maighréad and Tríona Ní Dhomhnaill / Niamh Parsons/ Len Graham/ Seán Keane/ Kilfenora Céilí Band/ Mairéad Casey/ Aidan Vaughan and so many more …
To find out more about more about the Festival, including this year’s dates and line up, please visit www.returntocamden.org – also keep in touch with us by liking our page on facebook: www.facebook.com/returntocamden
To find out more about The London Irish Centre, please visit www.londonirishcentre.org
Cherish the Ladies, Return to Camden Town Festival 2006:
Mairtín O’Connor, Cathal Hayden and Séamie ODowd, Return to Camden Town Festival 2007:
Kilfenora Céilí Band, Return to Camden Town Festival 2009:
Session with Mick O’Connor, Barbara Hackett and Mick Bailey, Return to Camden Festival 2009 :
Brona McVittie (of The London Lasses) and Pete Quinn, Return to Camden Town Festival 2008: