Those wanting a taste of the National Folk Festival before the event will have their chance in 2013. Aptly timed to take place on Canberra Day - March 11 - in the Centenary of Canberra year is ''Back to the Island - Exploring Our Folk Roots''.
Taking place on Aspen Island, it will present a potted history of folk music in Australia, from indigenous music to the music of Anglo-Irish arrivals through to a variety of ethnic influences and contemporary sounds. The National Carillon will chime in at intervals too.
The festival's managing director, Sebastian Flynn, said, ''We were invited by [Canberra 100 creative director] Robyn Archer to present something as part of the centenary celebration. She had it in mind to have a folk element.''
And he and artistic program manager Pam Merrigan and the board of the festival have come up with a program that will include English electric zither player Andrew Cronshaw collaborating with Canberra multi-wind player Ian Blake, indigenous dance, song and music from Wiradjuri Echoes, traditional Irish music from the Simpson Three and an Australian flavour from Battlers Ballad.
At the festival itself, Cronshaw and Blake will be joined by Armenian duduk player Tigran Aleksanyan and Finnish singer Sanna Kurki-Suonio, making up the group Sans. And all the other artists mentioned will also be at the festival, with many others.
Also performing at both events will be Canberra sculptor and folk musician Jacqueline Bradley.
Bradley, 26, said, ''I've been performing at the festival since I was five.''
At the Aspen Island event she will play the violin and sing, performing with Peter Woodley on flute and Mick Thompson on bodhran. They are three of the four members of the band Hoddle - Bradley's guitarist father Kevin is the fourth member, but he may be in Paris at the time. A great temptation, but not for the younger Bradley, apparently.
''It's the National, every time,'' she said.
Back to the Island - Exploring Our Folk Roots is on at Aspen Island on Monday, March 11, 2013 from 4 to 8pm. The National Folk Festival is on from March 28 to April 1, 2013. A limited number of discounted Early Bird 2 tickets are available until January 31. Visit folkfestival.org.au or call Venue Tix on 1300 235 849.