The Winter Droving is BACK!

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The Winter Droving is BACK for 2021 – Dazzling but different (due to you know what)...and you need a wristband!

For the first time in The Winter Droving’s 10-year history the event will be held over 3 days, celebrating music, art, culture and light. Rocking musicians, fire breathing performance and larger-than-life illuminated lanterns, will once again brighten Penrith’s town centre, for the annual masquerade.

This year’s Winter Droving will be different because it has to be. With the potential problem of returning COVID restrictions remaining a real possibility, Eden Arts have curated a festival that will abide by social distancing rules.

Eden Arts Director, Adrian Lochhead commented that, “This has been a tough year to put the Droving together, a year of uncertainty as to what we could do as creating a safe event is our top priority. We have designed the festival in such a way that it will still go ahead even if social distancing measures are reintroduced. We knew that if we didn't do that and just went down the usual route the whole thing could have been cancelled at the last minute wasting our time and the funder’s money.”

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If COVID restrictions are reintroduced, the volume of the crowd may create problems that could see the event being called off, so, by holding the festival over a 3-day period, visitor numbers in Penrith will be more evenly spread. Eden Arts encourage people to come along on Thursday 28th and Friday 29th October, instead of just focussing on the usual Saturday. The fun-filled line-up will remain the same over the 3 days so there is no need to come on the Saturday in the expectation that it will be the highlight, each day will largely be the same.

Visitors can still expect spectacular music and street theatre performances, but in a more relaxed, cosmopolitan, piazza-style setting. As with previous years, the town centre will host a food and craft market showcasing works from local artists, producers and an abundance of entertainment from midday until dark. Repeat visitors will notice that the layout has changed to allow for greater social distancing eg tables and chairs in the central area to encourage separation between groups enjoying the food and the entertainment (and taking a rest!).

“Things may look a little different this year”, explains Adrian, “due to discussions with the event Safety Advisory Group, we have made the decision not to go ahead with the parade. However, we plan to showcase the stunning lanterns in an alternative way in St Andrew’s churchyard along with more fire and light.”

Wolf lantern

To help monitor the ‘droves’ of people flocking to the town centre each day, organisers have implemented a new registration system. Visitors are asked to register online, with the date they will be attending, in order to get a wristband. Visitors are then asked to wear their wristband as they enter the site. Organisers have said that this new system may be the only way that the festival can go ahead.

Event Manager, Nikki Dawson said, “It has been challenging to ensure this fun, family festival can go ahead in a manner that is safe and responsible. The wristband system is essential to help us manage attendee numbers and achieve a safe and well-organised event. We really don't want to see it cancelled due to numbers being unknown.”

You can get your Winter Droving Wristbands by CLICKING HERE

The wristband scheme will also help raise contributions towards a charitable carbon offsetting fund for the festival. The Winter Droving is gathering data on the carbon impact of the event and how best to reduce and offset carbon, in line with the Government’s net-zero target.

In addition to the local funding support from Eden District Council, Penrith BID, Penrith Lottery and the Arts Council England, this year's event has been made possible due to additional funding gained via the Government's Culture Recovery Fund. Business sponsors will be announced shortly.

Eden Arts - the organisers of The Winter Droving - are passionate about supporting the arts community through the pandemic and hope to gain more sponsorship to make sure the festival is part of Penrith’s future.

This year’s Winter Droving will be held on Thursday 28th October, Friday 29th October and Saturday 30th October.

Markets will be open from 11 am and festivities will continue into the evening.

WEAR A MASK!!! a fun mask!!!




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  • Supported using public funding by Arts Council England