Dates: 23rd – 24th June
Chester’s Midsummer Watch Parades return on Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24th June, starting from Town Hall Square at 2pm each day.
The medieval spectacle dates back to 1498 which makes them the country’s oldest, and most colourful, street parades.
The Summer Watch was originally performed by the City Guilds in Chester at midsummer. It was disbanded in the 1670s before being revived in 1989, featuring the Chester family of giants.
Schools across the borough have been creating new characters for this year’s parade in workshops led by Chester artist Russell Kirk.
Newton Primary School will be suns, while 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 Primary School as geese.
Boughton Heath Primary will be ravens and Hoole CE Primary will be dragons.
Cllr Louise Gittins, CWAC cabinet member for communities and wellbeing said: “The Midsummer Watch Parade is one of the summer highlights with up to 500 local people celebrating Chester’s unique history.
“There will be an international feel this year as we welcome Italian and German students to the parade.
“The main Midsummer Watch characters are based on descriptions from the city archives including our famous family of giants.”
Russell Kirk commented: “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 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, a unicorn, a stag, hobby horses, St Werburgh, Green Men, Balaam’s ass, Cernunnus – the Celtic lord of the forest, the Raven Band and the Devil Band.
Also featuring are The Midsummer Watch ‘Family of Giants’ – father, mother and two daughters – towering four metre tall figures.
The parades will leave Chester Town Hall Square at 2pm on both days, continuing to: St Werburgh Street, Eastgate Street, Bridge Street, Pepper Street, St John’s Street and then Eastgate Street again before returning to the Town Hall for a finale via Northgate Street.
The Midsummer Watch website includes photographs and videos from previous years plus a history of the parade.