Chester’s Midsummer Watch Parade returns on Saturday 18 and Sunday 19 June. The famous medieval parade starts from Town Hall square at 2pm featuring the Chester family of giants.
The history of the Parade dates from 1498 making it one of the country’s oldest and most colourful street parades. The Summer Watch was originally staged by the City Guilds at Midsummer; it was disbanded in the 1670’s before being revived in 1989.
Schools across the borough will come together following a series of workshops run by Chester artist Russell Kirk to make new characters for the parades. Charles Darwin School will be Ravens, Dee Point Primary, Fish, and Cherry Grove Primary a flock of Geese. Newton Primary will be Pirates, joined by Boughton Heath Primary as Fiery monsters. Belgrave will be Angels and Hoole All Saints Primary schools will carry Suns.
Wrexham WI will take part in the parade for the first time as Birds and Minerva Arts will be Green Men. The Grosvenor Museum is holding a Dragon making workshop on 11 June giving more people a chance to perform in the parade.
Said Councillor Louise Gittins, Cabinet Member for Communities and Wellbeing: “Our parades are rooted in the history of Chester, we’re proud of the important role they play in the heritage of the city.
“Please join us as hundreds of school children and local performers re-enact this historic parade helping to bring the city centre alive with the unique cast of characters. The parade is based on records from the city archives that describe the characters and materials used to build them.”
The Midsummer Watch parade includes a cast of up to 500 with pride of place going to Chester’s unique ‘Family of Giants’ the father, mother and two daughters; towering 4 metre figures. The parade is led by the Summer Watch drummer and the City Guilds followed by a Pirate Ship, an Elephant and Castle, ridden by a cupid shooting arrows, Dragons, Angels, the Chester Ravens, Unicorn, Stag, Hobby Horses, St Werburgh, Green Men, Balaam’s Ass, Cernunnus the Celtic Lord of the Forest, Devil Band and dancers.
Added Russell: “This year St Werburgh, one of our oldest puppets, gets a makeover; face, body and a spanking new habit while, with pikes aloft, Chester’s Civil War Soldiers will join us for the first time.”
The parades will leave Chester Town Hall Square at 2pm on both days continuing to; St Werburgh Street, Eastgate St, Bridge Street, Pepper Street, St John’s Street, Eastgate Street; returning to the Town Hall for a finale via Northgate Street.
The Midsummer Watch website includes photographs and video from previous years plus a history of the parade