A Day at the Lake, preview: A family bank holiday festival

Suzy Prince

What better way to spend a bank holiday weekend than with tightrope walkers, performers, mermaids and more at this family festival.

It’s becoming increasingly difficult for festivals to stand out in an over-saturated market – and this is where A Day at the Lake organisers Wild Rumpus really excel. The enterprise, based in Cheshire, puts together festivals and large-scale family outdoor arts events in stunning landscapes. They’re establishing a great pedigree: just one jewel in the Wild Rumpus crown being the multi award winning Just So Festival. This latest extravaganza is possibly their most ambitious yet, and will see Staffordshire beauty spot Rudyard Lake returned to its late 1800s heyday as one of the earlier examples of mass tourism in the UK; the lake was formerly an excursion destination for thousands of daytrippers who headed to the lake to be entertained by spectacular feats and outdoor arts events.

A tightrope walk across a lake, dry land swimming routines, marching bands & more

For one long weekend only (30 April-2 May), up to 15,000 visitors will be treated to twice-daily recreations of Carlos Trower’s tightrope walk across the lake, 100 feet above the water, which happened in both 1864 and 1878. Trower shuffled off this mortal coil some time ago now, so this feat will be recreated by Chris Bull of the ‘Bullzini’ family. The lake will also play host to a floating stage, with performances from ‘the finest purveyors of Circus Swing’ Gabby Young & Other Animals, plus the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra Ensemble and glorious vintage dry land synchronised swimming routines from Yorkshire Life Aquatic.

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Back on shore, visitors will be treated to walkabout performances, storytelling and marching bands, as well as circus sideshows such as ‘the Victorian Bather’s Juggling Show’ and some ‘Mesmerising Mermaids’ who will emerge from the depths of the lake (possibly!) for this auspicious occasion. As if all of this wasn’t enough, in fine Victorian tradition there will be a helter skelter, swing boats, rowing boats, and donkey and steam train rides. Plus on all three days there will be stalls from Macclesfield’s Treacle Market, offering ‘A Taste of Treacle’ with crafts, vintage ephemera, ale and fine street food. This is a family event that’s not to be missed.

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