- Gloucester Day Celebrations – parades and the traditional mock mayor of Barton Parade
- Family and other events at key sites throughout the City
- Period Music performances
- Blackfriars Talks
The celebrations commence on Saturday 5th September, an important day in the history of Gloucester, because in1643 the City had been under siege by Royalist forces since 10th August. The parliamentarians had held out valiantly against the Royalist forces but City residents were overjoyed to see forces led by the Earl of Essex coming to their rescue. The Royalists took to the hills and on 5th September, Gloucester was freed.
Gloucester Day as it has become known is celebrated annually with colourful parades throughout the streets – everybody joins in. Alongside this day of celebration, is a week-long programme of family and other events organised around the City. Venues hosting events include The Soldiers of Gloucester Museum. The Folk Museum, the Waterways Museum as well as the City Museum.
This year, Sebastian Field, Gloucester’s Mayor who also sings in the Cathedral Choir is adding richness to the programme of activities with a series of period musical performances. For early music lovers this will include a concert of lute songs compiled by Robert Dowland who was John Dowland’s son. In fact, he succeeded his father as Royal lutenist.
Heritage Open Days
The City is also proud to take part in the national Heritage Open Days’ Scheme and last year ranked in the top three most popular destinations. The Open Days encourage people to discover the wonderful diversity of our local heritage and in Gloucester members of the public have the opportunity to go behind doors and gates that are normally closed to the public. The 1960s building regime was not kind to Gloucester and some of the City’s real gems are hidden from the first-time visitor. The Open Days give people an opportunity to discover and explore the wonders of the City. Many volunteers lead guided tours of the City and buildings, often in traditional costume and make history come alive.
The Blackfriars Talks are the final part of the celebration. Held in the stunning surroundings of Blackfriars Priory, a 13th Century Dominican Priory, we offer a series of talks on local, national and international history. The talks are a chance to debate the interpretation of past events and reflect on the personalities of those who made the decisions that have created the world we live in today. This year we will be considering Winston Churchill’s premiership. Regarded by many as an amazing leader, we explore his contribution to victory in WWII. But he was also a controversial figure and we will ask what people would have made of some of his views had he been campaigning in this latest election. At one time, Gloucester boasted four Priories and an Abbey so it is absolutely fitting that the City should welcome to the Festival, Janina Ramirez, BBC presenter and author of Saints and Sinners. Given Gloucester’s history, no festival would be complete without an event on the Romans and we are exploring options. We will find out more about and consider the battles of Waterloo and Agincourt as well as discussing the history of Christians in the Middle East, a topic that has been much in our thoughts recently. Closer to home we plan to look at the history of immigration in Gloucester. Gloucester’s very own historian Phil Moss will be revealing new information about the Hannoverians in Gloucester and we will be inviting a speaker to talk on the history of the prison. This is just a taste of what will be on offer.
The full programme will be available on-line in early July and tickets will be available then from the Tourist Information Office.