Bigger, longer and greener: Winter Droving countdown under way

Date: Thursday 4th October 2018

WITH just three weeks to go, the news from Winter Droving 2018 is that it is bigger, longer, and greener — featuring two days, one at Ullswater before the main event in Penrith on Saturday, 27th October, which will feature Cumbria’s biggest market, band stages, street performers and headline acts Mr Wilson’s Second Liners and Electric Swing Circus.

The droving is set to take place on the weekend nearest the old festival of Samhain — marking the end of the harvest season and the beginning of the "darker half" of the year — and masked musicians, street performers, giant animal lanterns and locals dressed in elaborate costumes will be joining the crowds for a unique Hallowe'en celebration steeped in tradition.

In order to meet demand, a special Friday event at Pooley Bridge has been added the bill with the return of the Ullswater Droving, bringing even more to half-term in Eden.

Kevin Beaty, leader of Eden District Council, said: "It's great to see more activity and engagement happening through the district around the Winter Droving. The expansion of the event to Pooley Bridge will be a real boost before the closure of the temporary bridge and has been well supported by the businesses in the area.

"The Winter Droving is a fantastic and unique event which we hope to see continue to grow in the future."

This year's Winter Droving promises to be the biggest on record. For 2018, Eden Arts, the team behind the extravaganza, has expanded the usual activity in Penrith throughout the town, introducing a new stage and market area in Middlegate.

This year headline act Electric Swing Circus will take to the stage in Great Dockray for the town centre finale after the procession.

The streets will be taken over by traders selling their wares from mulled wine to the finest artisan produce. Crafty Vintage will bring its signature vintage festival vibe with a mixture of classic vintage, collectables, retro wares, fine foods and delectable cuisine.

At the end of Middlegate there will be a new "stage", the Lloyd Ltd DISCOTRACTOR, featuring live DJ sets from Kingtinny among others.

The full line-up of bands and acts includes Ponyland, Deatbeats, Logan and Manley, Bad Transmission, Supa and Da Kyrptonites, Rimski’s Piano and Handkerchief, Ask my Bull, Blast Furness, Hadrian’s Union, Wearequazars, BAAB, The Windy Bottom Boys, Gaita Band, Blue Jam, Nula Hula, Poiromaniac, Baybeat, The Flying Colours, and Pete Moser’s One Man Band. There are new spectacles like Peddlars Pack, plus regular and favourites such as Mary the Faerie and Dick Danger. A special mention should be made of Penrith’s own Eliza Gutteridge, who reached the knock-out stage in ITV’s The Voice.

The highlight of the event is a fire and light lantern procession, where masked drovers carry fire torches and lead the parade through the town accompanied by giant animal lanterns and the beat of drumming and marching bands.

London-based reggae band Soothsayers will be taking the event into the evening alongside local DJs for The Winter Droving After Party, presented at The Warehouse by North Fire Promotions.

There are plenty of opportunities for people to get involved, including carrying a fire torch or lantern in the procession.

Teams can enter the Angel Lane Chippie’s Drover's Cup and compete for the title across five events such as hay bale racing, tug-o-war and sausage eating, or you can enter your beloved pooch into a fancy dress for dogs competition sponsored by Vets 4 Pets.

Myriad Studio will be running a series of workshops in the run-up to the event from outfit making to mask making. More information on how to get involved can be found on the Winter Droving website.

The Ullswater Droving will take place on Friday, 26th October, with a special torchlight procession through Pooley Bridge. Mr Wilson’s Second Liners have been itching to play at the Winter Droving for years, and are extremely excited to be part of this special event for the village.

The group will be arriving via Ullswater steamer to Pooley Bridge where an awaiting torchlight welcoming party will greet them.

Mr Wilson’s Second Liners will lead the torchlight procession through Pooley Bridge to the field behind the Sun Inn, for a final performance on stage. This year the band will be accompanied by The Wolf animal lantern which was sponsored by Ullswater Steamers in 2017.

Winter Droving director Adrian Lochhead, of Eden Arts, said: "We are really looking forward to this year. We are going to be busy. We’ve got a fantastic line-up over the two days and we are pleased to announce that all traders will be adhering to our new environmental policy designed to cut down on waste. We know that this is something that concerns many people — 20,000 people can make quite a mess.

"Don’t forget you can get a wristband that gives you 10 per cent off everything on the day, and my advice is to get there to both days early especially if you are coming from out of town.”

The Ullswater Droving and the Winter Droving rely on core funding from Arts Council England, Eden District Council, Penrith BID, Penrith Town Council, and Pride in Penrith Lottery.

This year the event is supported by title sponsor CompareCover, a Penrith-based life, pet and travel insurance comparison company, with Ast Signs as main sponsor.

Other parts of the event are sponsored by 1863 Bistro, Angel Lane Chippie, Another Place, Burnetts, Chestnut House, Cranstons, Cumberland & Westmorland Herald, Dodd & Co, Foundry 34, Granny Dowbekins,Hillcroft Park, Lloyd Ltd, The Crown, The Sun Inn, Thermafleece, Townhall Treasures, North Lakes Hotel, Ullswater Steamers, Waterside House Campsite and Vets 4 Pets.

More information can be found at