Saturday 14th November, saw over 15,000 people brave the elements for Penrith’s annual Winter Droving Festival.
The event, which contributes hundreds of thousands of pounds to the local visitor economy, draws on the rich history of Penrith and features fire, masks and a variety of strange games, with the aim of celebrating rich agricultural tradition and the significance of the place at the heart of the ancient cattle droving routes which criss-cross the county.
The Festival now in its fourth year continues to go from strength to strength, this year saw the doubling of performance spaces from three to six, including even more of the town in the day’s frivolities. Top acts, including carnival street band BLAST Furness, Room Full of Mirrors, Bare Bones Experience and Miss Mary The Faerie did their thing, while street performers such as Paka Johnson’s Amazing Fire Breathing Horse, and PanGottic’s Thingamabob… roamed the streets keeping the crowds entertained.
[procession-timelapse] During the day four teams also competed against each other through Penrith town centre in a bid to win the coveted ‘Kyloe’s Drovers Cup’. The ‘Cup’ is sees teams get to grips with four very special disciplines; Pint Carrying, Sausage Eating, Hay Bale Racing and culminates in a good old fashioned Tug-o-War! This year’s top spot was ably won by a team from AST Signs, Penrith, who snaffled the trophy from under the noses of last year’s plucky winners, Penrith Fire & Rescue Service.
Festival goers were also tempted by the sights and smells of Penrith’s largest yearly market, where over 60 stalls showcased some top Cumbrian ‘scran’ and a wealth of arts and crafts gifts.
Kids weren’t left out either with a fantastically fab fun fair with its Helter Skelter, Little Big Wheel and stalls with top traditional games like ‘Bash a Rat’ and ‘Hook a Duck’.
The real fun got underway as night fell… as hundreds of artists, performers and musician’s processed through the streets accompanied by flame, music and fantastical lanterns in animal form to celebrate Winter Droving.
Later in the evening as the ‘Drove’ procession quietened, the mayhem continued with the Festival’s all new ‘Masqued Mash Up After Party’, over 650 revellers packed into Penrith Leisure Centre to continue the revelry and dance the night away to tunes provided by stellar line-up The Baghdaddies, The Electric Swing Circus and Holy Moly and the Crackers.
Adrian Lochhead, director of Eden Arts, the organisation behind Winter Droving, said: “Year on year we have seen the number of people attend the Festival grow, both in terms of the people visiting the town for the event and the number of performers, bands and retailers wanting to be part of fun.
“There is undoubtedly a feel good factor with the event with many or our local retailers, hoteliers and cafes benefitting from the additional footfall.
“The Festival itself is a celebration of Penrith’s rich traditions and as well as encapsulating the area’s long and proud associations with the land, an association that can clearly be evidence at sites such as Mayburgh Henge and Long Meg.
“We look forward to working with the local community and a range of artists and performers to mark Winter Droving’s 5th anniversary as Cumbria’s must visit Autumn event and long may this continue.”
Plans are already underway for the 5th Winter Droving Festival, which promises to be even bigger and better still – To help us grow the Festival please give us your feedback, head to http://www.winterdroving.uk/ and click TAKE THE AUDIENCE SURVEY button on the home page and if you fancy getting involved next year register your interest.