Chester's Midsummer Watch Parade returns on Saturday 22 and Sunday 23 June starting from Town Hall square at 2pm. The medieval parade is the country's oldest and most colourful street parade dating from 1498.
Schools and youth groups across the borough have been creating new characters for the parade in workshops run by Chester artist Russell Kirk. Boughton Heath primary and Overleigh St Mary's will be Green Men, Belgrave Primary will carry Suns. Cherry Grove has been creating Fish to carry and Newton Primary will join St Werburgh as Geese. The parade will include Italian Language students as Ravens, West Cheshire College as a Raven band and Minerva Arts will be Devils.
The Summer Watch was originally performed by the City Guilds at Midsummer. It was disbanded in the 1670's before being revived in 1989, featuring the Chester family of giants. The Midsummer Watch 'Family of Giants' the father, mother and two daughters are towering four metre figures.
The parade is led by the Summer Watch drummer and the City Guilds with a Pirate Ship, Dragons, Angels, the Chester Ravens, Unicorn, Stag, Hobby Horses, St Werburgh, Green Men, Balaam's Ass, Cernunnus the Celtic Lord of the Forest, Raven Band and Devil Band. An antelope returned to the parade last year, it was recorded in the archives from 1660 as being part of the parade. The Hippogriff from Greek Mythology also returns to the mythical beasts section.
A royal visit has been hinted at this year with an appearance by Charles II on Saturday. Also joining the parade for the first time are the unknown Vikings.
The Minstrels Court takes place at St John's Church on 22 June and will be joining the parade.
The parade route changes this year to include more of the city centre, it will leave Chester Town Hall Square at 2pm on both days taking in; The Cross, Watergate Street, Bridge Street, Eastgate Street, St Werburgh Street, returning to the Town Hall square for a finale.
CLICK HERE for the Midsummer Watch website which includes photographs and video from previous years plus a history of the parade.