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Peculiar traditions…. Turn Your Clocks Back Four Centuries at The Winter Droving, Penrith

Locals dress up in elaborate costumes at The Winter Droving, Penrith. Photo credit Graham Wynne

Each year Penrith in Cumbria is confirmed as what many suspect it to be – a town lost in time (something between the Wicker Man and Hot Fuzz).

Masked musicians, street performers, giant animal lanterns and locals dressed in their traditional finery join the crowds at The Winter Droving for a unique halloween celebration steeped in tradition.

The Winter Droving is set to take place on the weekend nearest to the old festival of Samhain on Friday 26th and Saturday 27th October, marking the end of the harvest season and the beginning of the “darker half” of the year. To mark the old tradition of the clocks going back and farmers droving their animals to town for the final market f the year masked revellers dress up in their finest, featuring everything from tweed caps and victoriana to garb seemingly left behind when the Vikings left town. That the main day begins with a fancy dress competition, for dogs, should give you a clue to the sort of people we are dealing with here.

Five stages across the town showcase live musicians, street performances, marching bands and carnival street shows before this year the headline act Electric Swing Circus take to the stage for the town centre finale.

Penrith’s streets become something like a medieval market with traditional mulled wine and hot chestnuts alongside the finest local produce (Cumberland sausage and local beers).

Throughout the day the crowds build to the highlight; a fire and light lantern procession, where over 200 masked Drovers carry fire torches and lead the parade through the town accompanied by giant animal lanterns and marching bands. When they reach the site of the old market in Great Dockray, Electric Swing Circus will take to the stage with their 6-piece fusion of 20’s swing and stomping electro beats.

To meet the demand, this year the event takes place over two days, with a special evening preamble around the beautiful Ullswater lake and Pooley Bridge on Friday 26th October. Arriving by lakes steamer, Mr Wilsons Second Liners will lead a torchlight procession through Pooley Bridge to a big bonfire.Arriving early on both days is advised. More information can be found at www.winterdroving.uk

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