NHL - Festival

October 28-30, 2016, the Folk House, Bristol, UK.

Some photos from last year's Festival can be seen, right.


Stop Press!

Please note, that due to unavailability of the Folk House on Friday evening (only), all of Friday evening's activities, including (early) registration, the AGM, the blues jam and chromatic free play will be held near to the Folk House in the Hatchet Inn, 27 Frogmore St, Bristol BS1 5NA. To get there from the Folk House café just walk down the back stairs and then a short walk down the Culver Street hill and there it is on Frogmore Street. Alternatively, walk out of the Folk House front entrance, left down the Park Street hill and left down the steps, by the Banksy Naked Hanging Man, onto Frogmore street. Again, is a short walk from there. Please see the map to the right.

All events on Saturday and Sunday will be back at the Folk House as normal.

Don't forget that you can test your metal and improve your performance by taking part in one or more of the 4 solo classes of the NHL Player of the Year Contest. Check the details on the Contest here, choose a piece of music and get some practicing in before the festival. Let us know if you want to take part, but if necessary you can enter on the day if you register before 10am on Sat 29 Oct.

Festival Menu

Following, once again, the huge success of last year's festival, we have organised another event packed weekend for every type and style of harmonica player. Whether you are a beginner or an expert, H2016 will be another unmissable event in Bristol with Philip Achille, Brendan Power, the Giles Hedley band, Donald Black and Jang Ming with Guitarmoncello.

This, as always, will be a fantastic weekend with workshops, contests, shops, and an International Gala Concert. In addition to the artists headlining the concert there will be other well-known artists taking part in activities around the festival. Some of the artists who have have been recently are Adam Glasser; Gerry Ezard; Ben Hewlett; Lee Sankey; Phillip Henry; and others ...

This page shows the overall organisation of the festival with details of programme, artists, shops, location, accommodation and transport. Just click the link just above to go to the desired area of the page.

It is time to book up your tickets and accommodation before the best gets taken. Remember, that previously the concert was a sell-out and some people who did not book in advance did not get in.


Move cursor over image for details.

Philip Achille
Brendan Power
Giles Hedley

Donald Black
Cheng Jang Ming

Introductory Video

... from the H2013 Festival Concert

Back to the top

Pricing and Payment

  • If you want to pay by PayPal, go to the table just below and click appropriate 'Add to Cart' buttons as many times as are needed. Or you can pay by cheque by completing the application form and sending it with your cheque in £s, payable to the NHL, to David Hambley, address below. Alternatively, you can reserve your tickets by contacting David Hambley so you can pay for them when you get to Bristol.
  • Please note, the PayPal 'Add to Cart' button expresses the cost as GBP which are in £.
  • The Weekend Day ticket gives entry to the Folk House and access to all the daytime activities/workshops/shops/videos etc., including watching the contest which take place on Saturday, but not the Saturday evening concert - NHL members & non-members £ 25.00 and Under-Eighteen £12.00.
  • Saturday evening festival concert - NHL members and Under-Eighteens £15.00 (Non members: £17.00).
  • Family ticket for the Sunday: £5
  • The Contest entry fee is £10.00 for both NHL members and for non-members. Contestants must also purchase a Weekend Day ticket and please email David Hambley details of each contest class entered, Name of Piece; Composer; Arranger; and Accompaniment wanted. Contest rules and information are on the contest webpage
  • Click here to open a new page with the festival workshops, contest and concert booking information and forms.
Item NHL Member Non-Member Under-Eighteen PayPal Button
Contest £10.00 £10.00 £5.00
Contest Ticket
Weekend Day Ticket £25.00 £25.00 £12.00
Weekend Day Ticket
Saturday Evening Concert £15.00 £17.00 £15.00
Saturday Evening Concert Ticket
Combined Weekend/Concert £38.00 £40.00 £25.00
Combined Weekend/Concert Ticket
Sunday only - Family Ticket £5.00 £5.00 £5.00
Sunday only Ticket

Back to the top


The programme can be read or downloaded here.

Friday 28th October

all Friday evening events at the Hatchet Inn

  • Informal meet and greet night from about 7pm at the Hatchet Inn.
  • All help is greatly appreciated to ensure the festival runs as smoothly as possible so we hope as many members as possible will join us earlier to help set up the venue for the weekend activities, we will be there from early evening. Please contact David Hambley if you can help in anyway.
  • The Annual General Meeting will take place in the Hatchet Inn at 8pm. The move to a Registered Charity has increased the number of members required to be present to achieve a quorum to a greater number than we used to achieve. Any NHL member who cannot attend the AGM who would like to provide a proxy vote should contact the Secretary, David Hambley. We need your support. Dave will provide the background and answer any questions.
  • Following the AGM, at about 8:30pm, there will be jams in the Hatchet Inn - a blues jam with Phil Prowse and the Harpin' On Swing Blues Band and a free play session for chromatic players with backing tracks.
  • Come and enjoy the night, and meet the committee.

Saturday 29th October

all at the Folk House

  • Doors open at 9.15am.
  • The contest will take place in the main hall on the Saturday, starting at 9.30am. Contest forms can be found here.
  • There will be the usual wide range of workshops running through the day to provide invaluable information on all aspects of harmonica playing. Details can be found in the programme.
  • There will harmonica manufacturers with all the harmonica wares you need as well as the opportunity to pick up a bargain in the lunchtime auction.
  • The Saturday evening concert, which starts at 7:30pm and runs until 11pm, features NHL members and well-known artists Philip Achille, Brendan Power with Tim Edey, the Giles Hedley band, Jang Ming with Guitarmoncello and Donald Black.
  • Sunday 30th October

    all at the Folk House

    • Doors open for worshops commencing at 9:00am.
    • Workshops continue on Sunday morning as well as a contest in the Hall specifically for local Bristol and district children.
    • A Sunday afternoon concert follows where members, children and artists can all join in and perform.

    Back to the top


    We have three rooms dedicated to workshops on Saturday day and Sunday morning. The workshop topics will include the usual wide range wide of subjects to help and inspire you all! These will be for players of all ages and styles from beginner through to advanced; tuition covering all styles of playing; diatonic; tremolo; chromatic; classical; blues; melodic; jazz; and harmonica repair and maintenance. There will be a total of 31 workshops covering these topics.

    The workshop schedule is posted here to guide you, although there is still a possibility that it will be "tweaked". Details of the workshops will also be included in the October/November issue of Harmonica World, due for publication in the first week of October.

    Back to the top


    The NHL Player of the year contest in 4 solo classes (Chromatic, Jazz, Diatonic Melodic and Diatonic Blues & Rock) plus duo, trio, etc., classes takes place in the concert hall on Saturday 29th October, the Festival Application form, including contest details, and Festival Information leaflet, with more details of the contest classes, can be downloaded by clicking these links. The contest page gives more details, including rules and names of previous winners.

    Adjudicator - we are fortunate to have an experienced adjudicator - David Beer - from the Federation of Festivals to officiate at the contest. He has a lot of experience of youth music and has been involved in a wide range of music styles, West End Theatre and touring productions. David has produced a 'Tips' sheet to give guidance in what is expected of contestants in the various classes. This can be downloaded from here. More details can be obtained from David Hambley.

    Back to the top



    Steve Proctor of Sutherland (Hohner) and Howard Johnson from Suzuki should be showing their product range. All this is in the upstairs shopping rooms.

    Seydel will be present in force again and their room will have a full product display as well as their repair clinic, where you can check the state of your harmonica with Lars Seifert, Dr Bertram Becher and Jamie Dolan.

    Keith Parker will be again showing his amplifier range.


    Keith Parker will lead the very successful lunchtime auction on Saturday, so bring your cash or cheque books and pick up a bargain.

    If you have any CDs, music or equipment etc. which you would like to donate for the auction, you can always email Keith Parker in advance to let him know. We need your money to run events like this, so dig deep.

    Back to the top


    The two and a half day festival will mostly take place inside the Bristol Folk House, telephone 0117 926 2987, a popular Adult Education Centre in Bristol. It is a multi-level building at 40a Park Street, Bristol, BS1 5JG, a hundred yards north of the Cathedral, in the centre of Bristol. It has a concert room, a licensed café and half a dozen workshop rooms. Liz at the Folk House café is looking forward to seeing us again. She confirmed they will be serving food throughout the weekend, and that the bar will be well stocked as usual. The main entrance is through a short passage between two shops on Park Street, a lively shopping area. There is limited on-street parking, but cheap all day parking on Saturday and Sunday in the Trenchard Street and West End multi-storey car parks.

    The Friday night Blues jam will be held nearby in the Hatchet Inn, 27 Frogmore Street, Bristol BS1 5NA which is about 50 yards from the rear stairs of the Folk House click here to see it on a map.

    The one drawback of this otherwise excellent venue is its many levels and tight staircases which make it very difficult or impossible for anyone with physical disabilities.

    Bristol is a great location, as everyone found who attended last year's festival. It is easy to get to being adjacent the M4 and M5 motorways; it has a handy railway station on the main west coast line and has its own easily accessed airport, go to “Getting There” for more details. There are lots of things to enjoy - click here for information about Bristol for tourists. The old docks area has been refurbished and brought alive again. The new interactive "At Bristol" development complements the old streets, pubs, restaurants, churches, museums, and restored old sailing ships. There's a lot to do, even for non-harmonica players. Why not make a weekend of it?

    Back to the top

    Getting There

    Bristol has a compact city centre and is very easy to reach by motorway (it is close to both the M4 & motorways), coach, rail and air. If travelling by train the station is 'Bristol Temple Meads'. Or why not take advantage of the cheap flights into Bristol airport from both the UK and European airports?

    Coming by train? - The buses from the station to the city centre, whether the hotel or the Folk House, are mostly from across the street at the bottom of the road, running left to right. The numbers are X39, 379, (First Bus) 349 on (abus). The Numbers 8 and 9 run to and from the Station approach about every 10 minutes, depending on the time of day. The main stop to ask for is Baldwin Street, but some of the buses go on up to College Green, which is better for the Folk House.

    Back to the top


    Bristol has accommodation of all types to suit all budgets, but don't delay in booking as the best goes very quickly.

    For reasonably priced accommodation there is a YHA, telephone 0117 922 1659, and the Bristol Backpackers, telephone 0117 925 7900 in the city centre, both from £17 per night. The Bristol Tourist Information Centre, telephone 0906 711 2191, has details of B&Bs.

    There is a Travel Lodge, a Holiday Inn Express, and the Ibis Hotel, Harbourside in the town centre usually at £50 to £60 a night.

    Here is a great list of hotels for all budgets put together by the Folk House.

    These days you can check out the Air B&B discounted accommodation scheme, you do not have to spend a lot.

    If you want a Luxury Hotel, our suggestion is The Bristol Hotel, (was Jurys), Prince Street, Bristol BS1 4QF. They are holding some rooms for us at special prices - £ 100 B&B and a room for two adults at £ 110 B&B (twin bed or double room) - you must book by phone and quote National Harmonica League Visitor. It is about half a mile from the Folk House, telephone 0117 923 0333. This is the main festival hotel, where the artists, committee and most members meet up before and after the festival events at the Folk House.

    Another first class hotels with excellent facilities is the Mercure Holland House Hotel and Spa, telephone 0117 968 9900, located between Temple Meads Station and the City Centre close to the Folk House, prices from £79.

    We have also negotiated substantially discounted rates for 2016 with the Clifton Hotels. Simply quote 'NHLFEST' when booking online or over the phone at any of their 5 properties to access discounted rates. Properties in the group are: Berkeley Suites, which are a 7 min walk to The Folk House; the Berkeley Square Hotel, which is 7 min walk to The Folk House; the Clifton Hotel, which is 15 minutes walk to The Folk House; the Rodney Hotel, which is 25 minutes walk to The Folk House; and the Washington, which is 15 minutes walk to The Folk House.

    Parking is available at each of the hotels and is charged - £7.00 per night at the Berkeley Square and either £6.00 or £6.50 per night at the other three, non-reservable. As a direct booker you will receive free wifi and a discount in their restaurants.

    Remember hotel room rates can change according to demand, so you might be able to negotiate a better price.

    Back to the top