‘BLOKEFEST’ is making its debut up North.

Now in its eighth year, the major singing festival for men, renamed ‘BlokeFest Up North’ for its venture to Ilkley in June - involves more than 100 men singing together.

BlokeFest Founder, Chris Samuel, a member of the all male singing group, The Magnificent AK47 based in Ashton Keynes, Wiltshire, and a professional singer and choir leader with ‘Spooky Men’s Chorale’ when they’re in Europe who also performs with the UK Spooks, A Fistful of Spookies, explains it was while touring with the ‘Spooky Men’s Chorale’ that he was inspired to set up an event for men to get together and sing.

“It was just transformational, fantastic, and the great time blokes could have just by singing together is extraordinary,” says Chris, who has been teaching harmony singing workshops since 2003 and runs four choirs in Wiltshire.

Chris, a Trustee on the board of the nationally recognised ‘Voices Now’ which is dedicated to giving more people access to singing and a member of the Natural Voice Practitioners’ Network, recalls meeting a few people during the tour which led him to being involved in Sing like a Bloke workshops and, subsequently, spawned the idea for BlokeFest.

“We started the group and decided to get other blokes singing as well which has just grown and grown,” says Chris.

And they sing about some interesting stuff too.... “We sing about work and the sea and beer and tools and beards and dying and occasionally about love.

“Sometimes we sing in Welsh, or Georgian or French but mostly in English. All styles of music from blues to musicals and of course, from the great Male voice choir tradition.”

Blokefest will be heading to Ilkley Rugby Club from June 21 to 23 where Ilkley’s all men’s singing group ‘Sing Your Rocks Off’ will host the event in a circus big top in the rugby club grounds in Denton Road,

Ged Faricy, of ‘Sing Your Rocks off,’ explains the idea for the event to be held up North was instigated three years ago.

“I go to Bloke Fest and they said they were thinking about moving it around the country. I said we would do it.”

Ged said they were delighted to learn they would be hosting the event this year. “We are very honoured and we are excited,” he says.

“Hosting this fabulous event in Ilkley is an honour and a privilege and the hard work we are putting in to make this the best ever BlokeFest is worth it.”

Ged anticipates the event will attract local singers as well as singers from all over the country.

“It is an opportunity for all men in the area to experience something very special.”

During the weekend there will be singing workshops along with ‘cybersinging’ sessions ‘where blokes who have learned pieces via the internet meet in person to consolidate the songs in person.’

And blokes who are contemplating coming along to the event don’t need any vocal experience either - anyone can come along and be part of this brotherhood of singers.

“No experience of singing is required and you do not need to be associated to any choral group,” adds Ged.

Some members are retired, others have taken up singing after becoming too old to participate in sports and others just want to be part of something special.

“I love singing but the thing I really love is the camaraderie,” says Chris.

“To get 150 blokes in a field having a good time, it’s men hanging out together doing something which isn’t competitive.

“They are collaborating together and proud of that feeling,” says Chris.

Adding: “We are all about the brotherhood of singing.”

If you fancy getting involved or want more information about ‘BlokeFest Up North’ visit blokefest.net or call 07833 937254.