120-year-old Colne Music and Dance Festival canceled indefinitely

Organizers of a music and dance festival are about to end a tradition that dates back 120 years.

Two years of disruption due to the Covid-19 pandemic, coupled with dwindling numbers of competitors and a lack of volunteers to run the event, forced organizers of Colne’s Luther Greenwood Festival to give up.

Their decision is expected to be confirmed at the festival’s annual general meeting next month, and any remaining money in the bank will be donated to Pendle organizations that promote music and dance for young people.

Festival chairman Eric Beardsworth said: “It was an extremely sad decision that we had to make, but over the past two years it has become inevitable.

“The music festival has been losing money for several years as we have had to pay attendants and judges even when we had smaller audiences and fewer contestants paying their entrance fees.

“The dance festival was going well until it was disrupted by the pandemic, and this year’s event which was to take place over the Jubilee weekend did not attract enough competitors, so it had to be cancelled.”

Luther Greenwood

Colne’s festival tradition began in 1900, when ‘The First Annual Music Competition’ was held, with choirs competing at the old Cloth Hall and fiddlers at Dockray Street Congregational School.

The festival grew to include solo singers, then elocution, theater and dance, and at its peak audiences packed the Colne Town Hall to see the finale.

In 1947, the festival was renamed the Luther Greenwood Memorial Festival in posthumous honor of longtime conductor of the Colne Orpheus Glee Union men’s choir, which had brought Colne fame.

The AGM, at the Peter Birtwistle Centre, Keighley Road, Colne, on Tuesday 3 May, is open to anyone interested.

For more information call 01282 867152.

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