We can’t get enough of Penrith’s Winter Droving festival, which raises a toast to the change in seasons and the town’s rural heritage. It’s a brilliant time of year to take an alternative Lake District trip for this completely out-of-the-ordinary total town takeover by the clever cultural captains at Eden Arts. The Winter Droving encourages visitors to dress up and ‘join the herd’, so put on a mask, dress up and enjoy the entertainment of the day… and night!
Each year, Penrith is transformed into a spectacular wonderland of outdoor arts, music, mayhem, fire and masquerade with an always-impressive line-up of performance on stages and streets across the town. Rocking musicians, fire breathing performance and larger-than-life illuminated lanterns, will once again brighten Penrith’s town centre, for the annual masquerade.
The festival, whose motto is “turn your clocks back 400 years”, is a staple of the autumnal calendar in the north of the North of England, and epitomises all things Cumbrian; animals, fire, good food and community spirit.
Visitors can expect spectacular music and street theatre performances from midday until dark, plus a medieval market with traditional mulled wine and hot chestnuts, alongside the finest local produce. This includes a wide range of world foods, vegan and vegetarian cuisine, giftware, local artists’ works, quirky clothing and charity stalls.
In past year’s a big draw has been the fire and light processions whereby masked torch bearers “drove” colossal animal lanterns through the streets at dusk and the bonkers Drovers Cup competition which included Pint Passing, Egg Throwing, Sausage Eating (Cumberland of course) and Hay Bale Racing. At this year’s festival, expect to see sights that will blow other outdoor arts experiences out of the water. Join in, dance and, above all, smile and laugh. A lot. Events are spread across the town so leave time for exploring.
We love that this weekend is steeped in tradition, timed near the centuries-old festival of Samhain, marking the end of the harvest season and the beginning of the “darker half” of the year.
The Winter Droving is hands down one of the area’s best events of the year.