Tradition takes to the streets of Whittlesey with the Straw Bear Festival

12:54 31 December 2015

 Straw Bear festival, Whittlesey. 2015. Picture: Steve Williams.

Straw Bear festival, Whittlesey. 2015. Picture: Steve Williams.

Archant

Tradition takes to the streets at Whittlesey when people travel from across Europe for the Straw Bear festival.

 Straw Bear festival, Whittlesey. 2015. Picture: Steve Williams. Straw Bear festival, Whittlesey. 2015. Picture: Steve Williams.

The official day, which was revived in the 1980’s, is on Saturday 16 when the roads close from 9am onwards and a free park and ride service is set up from Sir Harry Smith Community College.

The parade of iconic bear accompanied by traditional dancers, starts from the Manor Leisure Centre in Station Road at 10-30am.

Between 30 and 40 dance teams will follow the bear to Market Street after which, the invited dance teams will perform a diverse variety of ritual British traditional dance forms at various sites around the town until about 3.30pm when the bear goes home for his tea.

There will be story telling in the Methodist United Reformed Church at 12-30, 1.30 and 2.30 with Jo Blake-Cave, acoustic music with Marina Florence and presentations by Poets United upstairs in the Town Hall, Market Street.

 Straw Bear festival, Whittlesey. 2015. Picture: Steve Williams. Straw Bear festival, Whittlesey. 2015. Picture: Steve Williams.

There are no charges for these presentations.

Straw Bear day concludes with a barn dance featuring the dynamic Peeping Tom who will folk rock the night away ably assisted by Phillip Bassindale in Sir Harry Smith Community College. Tickets £12.

If that is not enough you may return to Sir Harry Smith Community College on Sunday 17 at 12pm for two and a half hours of dance display and music, a prelude to the bear burning at 2.30pm.

Once again the Strawbearers are presenting traditional art forms in the five schools in town in the run up to the event which are not open to the public.

 Straw Bear festival, Whittlesey. 2015. Picture: Steve Williams. Straw Bear festival, Whittlesey. 2015. Picture: Steve Williams.

Story tellers Ursula Holden Gill (primary schools) and Jo Blake-Cave (Sir Harry Smith Community College) will entertain the students.

The public are invited to the Ivy Leaf Club on Friday 15 for music and song provided by Sunjay folk and blues, who were finalists in the BBC Young Folk Awards.

There will also be entertainment from Kara, a distinct blend of Russian and British songs and tunes and also Gilmore and Roberts, an eclectic mix of traditional and contemporary song.

The group supported Fairport Convention in 2011 and were nominated for BBC Radio 2 folk awards in 2013. Tickets £10.

Box Office 07857 357 970 General enquiries 01733 208245.

The festival not only provides a weekend of entertainment but also raises thousands of pounds for local charities.

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