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The Tolpuddle Martyrs’ Festival is gearing up to return with a dynamic new-look in July after being cancelled last year because of extreme weather.

Organisers TUC South West have radically overhauled the music programme, introduced a new solidarity tent and, for the first time, are planning to install a video link to allow international guest speakers to address the audience.

The family-friendly event between July 19 and 21 commemorates six Dorset farmworkers transported to Australia after joining a union in 1834.

TUC Regional Secretary Ines Lage said: “We are grateful for the support and solidarity shown to our festival over the past year, building on a proud tradition and legacy. It is exciting to be able to share that despite the challenges thrown at us, your support has made it possible for us to bring back our beloved festival in 2024.

“The cost-of-living crisis continues to devastate working people and their families, and in that context our unions are holding the lines fighting for fairer and better terms and treatment.

“Hundreds of thousands of workers have been driven to taking industrial action in the past few years – many for the first time ever.

“The Tolpuddle Martyrs’ Festival is a place for working people to share their stories, build strength and solidarity, whilst relaxing and letting off some steam with their friends and families.

“Every year people tell us Tolpuddle recharges their batteries and gives hope through struggle. This year will continue to build on that proud tradition and shows our movement moving from strength to strength even in hardship.

“Trade unions are ultimately networks of support and solidarity. The Tolpuddle Martyrs’ Festival celebrates what our movement has accomplished so far, and recharges and invigorates us for the year to come.”

The music programme this year Includes performances by Zimbabwe streetbeat band Gonora Sounds, Wirral punk-pop She Drew The Gun, nu-metal ravers No Good Boyo, genre-bending Alt Bik Era and Welsh-Nigerian R&B artist Kima Otung.

The political side of the event – speakers include union general secretaries and striking workers – has also been updated, with the introduction of the Solidarity Tent, a more relaxed space for networking, collaboration, and promoting synergy.

It will sit alongside the thriving International Tent showcasing important campaigns and struggles from around the world, and the Organise Tent, where festival goers can participate in hands-on workshops and training.

Other entertainment over the weekend includes DJ sessions, the popular comedy show, open mic sessions, and the ever-fantastic Kids’ Area, with face-painting, pizza making and more to keep the kids (and the big kids) happy. 

To book entry and camping tickets, and for more information about the Festival, visit:       

Editors note

Notes to editors:  

  • About the Tolpuddle Martyrs: The Martyrs were six agricultural workers who in 1834 agreed not to accept wages below a certain amount. They were arrested, charged with swearing a secret oath, and sentenced to seven years’ transportation to Australia. A grassroots campaign successfully overturned the sentences and they were brought back home. 
  • About the Festival: The Tolpuddle Martyrs’ Festival 2024 runs from Friday 19th July until Sunday 21st July. Music and entertainment alongside topical debates are spread across the three days, culminating in a celebratory procession of trade unions, banners and thousands of supporters commemorating the legacy of the Tolpuddle Martyrs of Dorset. Speeches and music will follow. To book entry and camping tickets and for more information about the Festival, visit:
  • For media: For passes, entry to the Festival and interview requests, please contact the TUC South West.
  • The Trades Union Congress (TUC) exists to make the working world a better place for everyone. We bring together more than 5.5 million working people who make up our 48 member unions. We support unions to grow and thrive, and we stand up for everyone who works for a living.  
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