Chester’s Midsummer Watch Parade returns on Saturday 23 and Sunday 24 June starting from Town Hall square at 2pm.
The medieval parade dates from 1498 making it the country’s oldest and most colourful street parade.
The Summer Watch was originally performed by the City Guilds at Midsummer.
It was disbanded in the 1670’s before being revived in 1989, featuring the Chester family of giants.
Schools across the borough have been creating new characters for the parade in workshops run by Chester artist Russell Kirk. Newton Primary School will be Suns, Dee Point Primary School join the parade as a shoal of fish.
Sir John Talbot School will set sail as the Royal Navy fleet, Belgrave Primary will be Angels and Cherry Grove Primary will join St Werburgh as Geese. Boughton Heath Primary will be Ravens and Hoole CE Primary will be Dragons.
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, Raven Band and Devil Band. The Midsummer Watch ‘Family of Giants’ the father, mother and two daughters are towering four-metre figures.
New characters this year are an Antelope and Hippogriff. The antelope was recorded in the archives from 1660 as being part of the parade. The Hippogriff comes from Greek Mythology as part of our mythical beasts section
The Minstrels Court takes place at St John’s Church on 23 June and will be reinstating the historical link between it and the Watch when they join the parade as it passes the church.
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 www.midsummerwatch.co.uk includes photographs and video from previous years plus a history of the parade.