CHRISTMAS music from around the globe and through the centuries is a speciality of Maddy Prior and the Carnival Band.

What began as a one-off session in a village hall in Cumbria has endured for quarter of a century and their line-up of classical, Irish, traditional and folk rock musicians, fronted by the haunting vocals of Maddy, of Steeleye Span fame, arrive at Preston’s Guild Hall with their potpourri of Carols and Capers on Wednesday.

“I’m passionate about singing carols and seasonal songs,” said Prior, who was born in Blackpool.

“I always think of carols as being unpretentious tunes.

“They’re very straight and beautiful and lovely to sing.

“For some reason there is something about sacred material which moves our heads somewhere else, and that is what I enjoy from them.”

Festive favourites — Holly and the Ivy and I Saw Three Ships — beautifully complement assorted dance tunes like Old Joe Clark in a concert sure to get you in the Christmas spirit.

“When we go out on the road at Christmas, it’s all streamers, balloons and lunacy,” added Maddy.

“Most of all, though, singing these carols takes you out of other concerns and moves you into another place.

“The response from audiences still tells me that people love carols and all that they have stood for through the ages.”

The folk legend is celebrating 40 years on the circuit — and a remarkable career that saw her introduce folk rock to Top of the Pops with Steeleye Span’s catchy hit All Around My Hat and then set the charts aflame with the 1970s single Gaudete.

They were arguably the first group to drag folk music into the electronic age and Maddy, who occasionally performs with the band, added: “Steeleye Span is like a bus. It goes along, and people get on and get off it.

“Sometimes the bus goes along the route you want to go and sometimes it turns off, so you get off. We had a lot of fun over the years.”

A decade ago she was awarded the MBE for services to folk music, while the singer Rosie Kemp is her daughter.

“I love working with the chaps in the Carnival Band and coming from a folk background I can relate to a lot of their dances and early music, and this time of year is always special for all of us.”

  • Maddy Prior and the Carnival Band, Preston Guild Hall, Wednesday, December 12. Details from 0844 344 2012.