Medieval spectacular at Peterborough’s Heritage Festival

Peterborough Heritage Festival takes place later this month

Peterborough Heritage Festival takes place later this month

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Step back in time and experience 3,500 years of medieval history in the UK’s only city centre multi-period living history festival, held in the heart of Peterborough city centre across the weekend of June 20 and 21.

The annual medieval event which last year attracted over 30,000 people to the city, will this year feature an exiting centrepiece of a full blown medieval joust held twice daily on the Cathedral Green, the first time that such an event has been staged in the middle of a town centre in England since 1467.

Visitors will be able to see plate-armoured knights tilt at each other in a specially constructed arena, experiencing all the excitement of a medieval tournament. The knights taking part in the joust will come from across Europe, and will be some of the best in the world. Two of the knights were seen recently escorting the coffin of Richard III through the streets of Leicester as part of the funeral commemorations.

The Heritage Festival organised by Vivacity in association with Peterborough Cathedral and supported by Perkins Engines Company Limited, will also feature a large programme of fringe events running from June 12 to June 28.

Each year a guest lecture is held inside Peterborough Cathedral, with a high profile figure talking about a historical topic. This year will see the return of historian and broadcaster Dr David Starkey, who will be talking about the Magna Carta and its relevance 800 years on.

The festival is also expanding this year to include a special schools day, providing an opportunity for local children to come and meet characters from different periods of Peterborough’s history, bringing the story of their city to life.

School parties will spend a day ‘time travelling’ between different living history encampments, being able to experience the sights, sounds and smells of the past.

As part of the main weekend the Heritage Festival will feature over 300 costumed re-enactors from some of the country’s top living history groups, giving visitors the chance to meet colourful costumed characters from the past, from Bronze Age warriors to World War Two airmen. Costumed characters including King John and Edith Cavell will be mingling with the crowds and holding audience sessions.

Also on show will be over 30 local history societies, community groups and historic attractions, who will be putting on displays to show off the best of Peterborough’s local heritage. The Children’s Zone will provide an activity area for the kids with jesters, storytellers, games and activities on St John’s Square.

There will be fun family activities too in the hands-on science marquee on Cathedral Square, as well as the chance to find out the story of local company Perkins Engines and the opportunity to share memories of it being in the city.

There’s also a chance to do some speciality shopping at the festival.

The period market will be held in the Cathedral Precincts, including displays of historic crafts and trades, alongside a chance to buy a historically themed gift.

The craft fair on Cathedral Square will also provide shopping opportunities, alongside the Food Fayre where visitors can discover an exciting taste of unusual produce, food and drinks to sample and buy.

Vivacity has been fortunate to secure support from Perkins Engines Company Limited as part of a three-year partnership. Adrian Talbot, marketing centre of excellence manager at Perkins said: “The Heritage Festival plays an important role in the city’s cultural calendar and the addition of the medieval joust to their year’s programme will ensure it’s the best yet.

“Perkins is very proud to be associated with the Heritage Festival which has something to offer to local residents and those who have travelled from further afield.”

Stuart Orme, lead officer for Vivacity on the Heritage Festival adds: “We’re delighted to be able to offer such a spectacle as part of this year’s festival, and we’re indebted to Perkins for their support in enabling it to not only continue, but grow.

“Being able to offer such an exciting centrepiece as this medieval joust will help the festival attract visitors not just from Peterborough, but from across the country, putting the city on the map.”

The Heritage Festival provides a boost for Peterborough, our businesses and our community, bringing over £300,000 into the local economy.

The event costs £70,000 each year and this sum is met by generous support from local businesses such as Perkins and individual donations.

Stuart Orme added: “We’d love all those people who come and enjoy the festival to join in and help us to secure its future as well as having a great time,as a key supporter of the event which brings so much to the city.

“Every pound helps, and this year we have a range of unique festival rewards and experiences on offer for different levels of donations - please visit www.justgiving.com/heritage-appeals/ to find out more.”

The main weekend for this year’s Heritage Festival looks like it will be an unmissable date in everyone’s diaries, and there will be more than ever to appeal to all the family in the exciting programme.

For more details and announcements, make sure you visit the Vivacity website

The Heritage Festival is also looking for volunteers who are interested in helping out with the biggest event in the city, either to gain some experience in the heritage sector and events, or simply to meet people and have fun.

To become a part of the team of volunteers at Vivacity who give up their time and skills to help achieve Vivacity’s goals, contact the volunteer team on 01733 864775 or e-mail volunteering@vivacity-peterborough.com