Whittlesey’s Straw Bear festival has been cancelled

The Whittlesea Straw Bear festival was due to take place next weekend but has been cancelled.

By Rosie Boon
Tuesday, 4th January 2022, 3:28 pm
Straw Bear Festival 2020 at Whittlesey. EMN-200118-154335009
Straw Bear Festival 2020 at Whittlesey. EMN-200118-154335009

The popular Straw Bear festival was planned for next weekend (January 14-16) but had been cancelled due to Coronavirus rates.
The Whittlesey Straw Bear festival issued a cancellation notice which said: “We are very sorry to announce that the Straw Bear Festival 2022 has been cancelled.

“The committee do not feel that it would be responsible to run an event, in the light of the infection rate rise, that would potentially spread the virus even more and put the town of Whittlesey at further risk.

“Thank you for your continued support.”

The festival took place virtually last year and took place in full back in 2020.

The festival stems from the custom on the Tuesday following Plough Monday, the first Monday after Twelfth Night, to dress one of the confraternity of the plough in straw and call him a ‘Straw Bear’. The bear was made to dance in front of houses and gifts of money or of beer and food for later consumption.

The custom was revived in 1980 by the Whittlesea Society, and for the first time in seventy years a ‘Straw Bear’ was seen on the streets. The traditional festival is a hit with locals and tourists who visit the town to see the procession of dancers, musicians and performers.

The next festival is planned for 2023, January 13-15.