This event has often been described as 'The Greatest Free Show on Earth'!! Well that might be stretching things a bit far, but then again I haven't visited this event, YET!!
Whit Friday afternoon and evening, 20th May 2005 was the most recent chance to witness over 100 brass bands, playing at about 20 open air venues around Saddleworth.
This event has grown in size and popularity, since its first recorded happening in 1884! Each band is competing for the prestige (and prize money, with a forcasted fund of £26,820!!)
The event is open to all, from small local youth bands, to the established, well known names from the UK and abroad.
Each band plays 2 pieces, which are judged 'blind' with the adjudicators listening in a nearby darkened room or caravan.
Besides the chance to enjoy listening to Brass Band music, part of the fun is in watching the various bands scrambling to reach their next venue, as the contest is run over many venues between 16.30 and 22.30, or into the early hours.
On the morning of Whit Fri, The traditional walk takes place as it has for many centuries, accompanied by various brass bands (See my Whit Walk local custom tip)The day after, is the Beer Walk..(See loc. custom tip)
Whitsuntide, was considered to be an important time in the Christian calender, especially in the North of England. Traditionally new clothes were bought or made for the celebration.
Whit Walks (or Procession of witness) traditionally took part, especially in the NW of England on the Friday. A procession would leave each church, headed by the local brass band, leading the church banner, followed by the clergy, dignitaries, choir, Scouts and Guides, then the congregation, of families dressed in their new clothes. A service would be held outdoors, followed by a further procession around the parish. The afternoon was then a time of relaxing and socialising, with concerts, cricket and childrens games, communal teas, and generally meeting up with friends and family.
Saddleworth is one of the few areas to uphold the Friday Walk, Most Whit Walks occur on the Sunday nowadays
The villages of Saddleworth hold many festivals each year.
One that caught my eye is the annual Beer Walk!
21st May 2005 is the 32nd Saddleworth Roundtable Beer Walk.
Upto 1,400 walkers have been known to set off, many wearing fancy costume, with the aim of completing the course that passes through the villages and countryside around the area.Including some steep hills!
As it's the Beer Walk, there are nearly a dozen Beer Stations along the way, for liquid refreshment. ;-)
The walk starts at 2pm, and for those who finish before 8pm, there is a special commemorative tankard and a free can of beer.
Walkers can register as part of a team, or solo. The booking fee goes towards staging the event, and to the Rotary clubs charity. Walkers collect money for their own charities, either by sponsors or street collection. It has been estimated that about £50,000 is collected this way.
Visit the Beerwalk website for more details, and photo gallery of previous walkers.
It looks a great day out for both the walkers, and the 1,000 + spectators that turn up to enjoy the festivities, no doubt aided by a pint or 2!
The 8th Annual Saddleworth Folk Festival is next held on 15-17th July 2005 at Uppermill, which is near Oldham.
Folk musicians, some well known, some not so have played here. Eric Bogle, Stanley Accrington, Old Rope String Band are some of the previous artistes.
Ceilidhs, Workshops, Singarounds, craft fair etc.
Camping £3 pp pn for weekend ticket.
Ticket prices/artistes still to be announced.
I'll keep an eye out for updates.
Although I've not been to this festival, I have seen the afore mentioned acts, and my brother (Who's a Folkie! recommends this festival)