Winter Droving – Celebration of Fire, Music and Mayhem
It’s hard to believe that the Winter Droving is only back for its 8th year because the event feels like it’s deeply rooted in some ancient tradition that stretches across generations.
The magical day of rural celebration returns to Penrith on Oct 26th but the two-day festival begins the night before in Pooley Bridge when the last Ullswater Steamer of the day docks at 6 pm.
Folk group, The Baghdaddies, will disembark and a torchlight welcome party will greet them. The festival will ignite as the raucous band lead a magical procession through Pooley Bridge while the giant Wolf lantern follows them to the field behind the Sun Inn.
The following day Penrith transforms as it hosts the busiest market of the year with over 100 stalls. Wander through the bustling streets and you’ll find spectacular street performances around every corner. The town will also host local, regional and national musical acts across 5 stages.
The two-day festival encourages visitors to dress up, ‘join the herd’ and don a mask which will add anonymity on a dark autumnal night.
“There’s plenty to get involved in during the day,” explained Project Manager, Bryoney Fawn. “We have the Drovers Cup which is an ‘It’s a Knock-Out’ style event with different games like hay-bale racing, tug of war, sausage eating, egg throwing competition and a pint pass.
The idea behind the Winter Droving is based on celebrating the last market of the year before everything shuts down. The farmers would come to town with their wares and that would draw out the more unusual characters, hawkers and traders who are trying to get a little bit of extra money to support themselves through the winter. And we know that when people come together for the final time, things get a bit wild and it always leads to a party.”
The Winter Droving builds to the spectacular procession in the evening and people can sign up to carry a fire torch and take part.
Thousands line the streets to watch the magical fire procession that features musicians and giant animal lanterns which will culminate with a headline act on the main stage.
Now established as a key event in the Cumbrian calendar, it was set up by Eden Arts in 2011, with the backing of Eden District Council. Over 20,000 people descend on the day of the droving, with many travelling from across the UK. In recent years the Winter Droving has welcomed national press coverage from the likes of The Guardian and The Sunday Times.
There is no doubt the Winter Droving has become one of Cumbria’s iconic cultural events but when the procession has passed and the last musician has left the stage at 8:30, the farmers and townsfolk alike can head for the inns and pubs and continue the party.
Join the herd for the spectacular celebration of fire, music, mayhem and celebrate our agricultural past.
But don’t forget your mask.