SWANAGE was rocking at the weekend as the 20th Swanage Blues and Roots Festival played out to thousands of music fans.

The three day party ranged from open mic sessions to buskers at Swanage Railway Station, and festival favourites such as Back Porch and Blue Touch.

Every March and October music lovers throng to the seaside town where more than 100 musicians perform at 60 events in 15 indoor venues from Friday lunchtime until Sunday evening.

Regular fans say they love the friendly atmosphere and the wide range of electric and acoustic music available in the pubs, restaurants and hotel bars across the town.

Aspiring performers can take part in the electric jam sessions with international star Robin Bibi and his band, the open mic sessions with Johnny Sharp and Martin Froud and Stan’s Blue Jamboree. The first Swanage Blues Festival was held in March 2001 and started off as a birthday party for local blues fan George Crane in a nightclub, rapidly expanding into a town-wide event with pubs and restaurants joining in.

Organiser Steve Darrington used to be a touring musician until he had to stop due to ill health and the festivals are funded by enthusiastic fans buying £10 weekend wristbands.

He said: “It was an absolutely fantastic weekend.”

He added: “Despite the roadworks, which affected how easily people got to Swanage, I would say that it was the best Swanage Blues Festival ever.

“Swanage was bursting full of people and the highlights were that it meant lots of friendships were renewed, numerous musicians came together, and it was wonderful seeing people of all ages in a wonderful, friendly atmosphere.

“The whole town could be seen dancing in the street.”