A MAJOR regional event dating back to the 15th century is set to attract thousands of spectators this weekend.

The medieval Midsummer Watch Parade, featuring a family of giants, will take centre stage in Chester on Saturday and Sunday.

Dating from 1498, the parade is one of Britain’s oldest and most colourful street parades.

Leaving Abbey Gateway at 2pm, the parade is led by the Summer Watch drummer and the City Guilds.

The Sheriff of Chester, Cllr Reggie Jones, will join the parade on Saturday on board ‘The Lord Mayor’s Mount’ and the Lord Mayor of Chester, Cllr Eleanor Johnson, will join the parade on Sunday.

‘The Lord Mayor’s Mount’, a lion-faced chariot, will be pulled by Roman soldiers
from Chester’s Roman Tours.

Cllr Johnson said: “I will be travelling in the chariot which was one of the structures in the original 15th century parade and was re-introduced last year.

“There is so much happening in Chester this month with huge events every week.

“Chester is alive with colour this summer with events taking place including Chestival, The Midsummer Watch Parade, Vaudeville performances and Mini Mystery Plays.”

Artist Russell Kirk has been working with schools across the region creating characters for the parade and has built a new structure this year called ‘Envy, Plenty, Fame and Mercury’.

David Roberts, one of the founders of the revived parade, said: “By 1608 the parade had new figures on horseback, St George in full armour with squires and drummers. ‘Envy’ with snakes in her hair and one in her hand, ‘Plenty’, garlanded with wheat Ears around her body. ‘Fame’ with a trumpet, followed by ‘Peace’, ‘Joy’ and ‘Rumour’. Finally ‘Mercury’ appears winged on a cloud with fire and fireworks.”

The Midsummer Watch Parade was originally staged by the City Guilds at Midsummer. It was disbanded in the 1670s until its revival in1989 and has been maintained by the council and the Friends of Chester Watch.

Pride of place in the Parade goes to Chester’s unique ‘Family of Giants’. The father, mother and two daughters all stand four metres high. The giants will be joined by a pirate ship, a huge elephant and castle ridden by a cupid shooting arrows, dragons, angels, the Chester ravens, unicorn, stag, hobby horses, and green men.

There is a new parade route this year embarking from Abbey Gateway at 2pm on both days and passing the Town Hall, St Werburgh Street, Eastgate Street, Bridge Street, Pepper Street, St John Street, parading under the Eastgate Clock for the first time before returning to the Town Hall for a finale via Northgate Street.