Vintage year for Cromer’s sun-soaked Folk on the Pier festival

Good music, real ale and warm sunshine lent a rosy glow to the weekend's Folk on the Pier festival at Cromer, sending thousands of fans home with mellow smiles on their faces.

Music-lovers flocked from all over the east, and even further afield, to enjoy a three-day theatre programme of performances by singer-songwriters and bands, with a wide selection of fringe music, dance and workshop events at pubs and other venues around the town.

The town's Pier Pavilion Theatre was sold out for the three evening concerts by long-established blues and rock band Nine Below Zero, singer-songwriters Chris While and Julie Matthews, and guitar maestro Martin Simpson, who closed the festival last night with his band.

New acts this year included Loose Screw, the band of actress Denise Black, who played the role of hairdresser Denise Osbourne in Coronation Street.

Festival director Scott Butler said it had been 'enormous fun' and a vintage year for the festival which has been running since 1999.

'The weather has been fantastic which immediately kicks the festival in at a higher level,' he said. 'Some of the up-and-coming younger artists have blown the older audience away with their talent and we have also brought back a lot of popular people who have played here over the years.'

The event, falling between Easter and the summer season, brought a welcome buzz and extra money to the town but Mr Butler said he was astonished that Cromer's restaurateurs did not make more of the opportunity.

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'I can't believe that after 13 years there is nowhere, absolutely nowhere, to eat after the evening show in Cromer - except for Chinese, Indian or a kebab,' he said.

'Nobody seems to have sussed out yet that there are 500 people pouring out of the theatre at 11pm and a lot of them are looking for somewhere to eat.'

But he was full of praise for the pier theatre which, with its comfortable seats and 'perfect' acoustic, gave folk audiences a five-star experience, compared to some of the 'windy, noisy marquees' used as concert venues by other festivals.

Mr Butler said festival-goers had praised the emphasis on singer-songwriters this year and he planned to stick to a similar formula in 2012. He is also hoping to develop the dance side of the festival and is keen to hear from someone prepared to organise events.

One band already booked for next year is the recently-reformed Home Service, which includes the multi-talented John Tams, best known as rifleman Daniel Hagman in the TV series Sharpe, and for his work at the National Theatre, in productions such as Lark Rise to Candleford, and the current hit, War Horse.