Chester’s Midsummer Watch Parade is back on Saturday 18 and Sunday 19 June starting from Chester Town Hall square at 2pm on both days. The medieval parade is one of the country’s oldest and most colourful street parades dating from 1498.
The Summer Watch was originally performed by the City Guilds at Midsummer. It was disbanded in the 1670’s before being revived in1989, featuring the Chester family of giants. The Midsummer Watch ‘Family of Giants’ the father, mother and two daughters are towering four metre figures.
Councillor Louise Gittins, Leader of Cheshire West and Chester Council said: “The last time the Midsummer Watch Parade was halted it took 300 years to come back, the pandemic has stopped the parade for two years this time and I’m sure it will receive a warm welcome back. I’d like to send a special thanks to all the local people participating and celebrating Chester’s unique history.
“The Midsummer Watch characters are based on descriptions from the city archives including our famous family of giants.”
The parade is led by the Summer Watch drummer, the City Guilds and Chester’s Karamba Samba Band, with dragons, angels, pirates, the Chester ravens (Minerva Arts), unicorn, stag, hobby horses, St Werburgh, green men, Balaam’s Ass, Cernunnus the Celtic lord of the forest, and a devil band.
An antelope character returned to the parade in 2019, it was recorded in the archives from 1660 as being part of the parade joining The Hippogriff from Greek Mythology added to the mythical beast’s section.
Chester’s Sheriff, Councillor Bob Rudd will be joining the parade on Saturday and the Lord Mayor of Chester, Councillor John Leather is taking part on Sunday.
Schools and groups across the borough have been creating characters for the parade in workshops run by artist Russell Kirk. Hoole Primary Schools will be dragons, Dee Point join the parade as fiery monsters and Belgrave will be carrying suns.
The parade will leave Chester Town Hall Square at 2pm on both days taking in; St Werburgh Street, Eastgate Street, The Cross, Bridge Street, Northgate Street, returning to the Town Hall square for a finale.
The Midsummer Watch website midsummerwatch.co.uk includes photographs and video from previous years plus a history of the parade.