Thousands enjoy sights and sounds of Whittlesea Straw Bear

Straw Bear Festival 2018 at Whittlesey.  Straw Bear leads the parade EMN-180113-180253009
Straw Bear Festival 2018 at Whittlesey. Straw Bear leads the parade EMN-180113-180253009

A unique tradition was brought to life in Whittlesey as thousands of people gathered for the annual Straw Bear Festival.

The festival sees dozens of molly and morris dancing groups performing across the town, while crowds gather to watch a colourful parade through the centre of Whittlesey.

Straw Bear Festival 2018 at Whittlesey.  Red Leicester Morris EMN-180113-175956009

Straw Bear Festival 2018 at Whittlesey. Red Leicester Morris EMN-180113-175956009

This year was the 39th Whittlesea Straw Bear Festival, and saw visitors from across the country - and some from further afield - arrive in the fens to take part and watch the traditional event.

The focal point of the parade is the Straw Bear itself - and this year there were three bears marching and dancing through the town.

Alongside the country dancing and the parade, there were also other performing acts, including poetry, acoustic music and story-telling sessions.

Musical acts included BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards nominee Luke Jackson, Vicki Swann and Jonny Dyer.

Straw Bear Festival 2018 at Whittlesey.  Pig Dyke Molly EMN-180113-180029009

Straw Bear Festival 2018 at Whittlesey. Pig Dyke Molly EMN-180113-180029009

Saturday finished with the traditional barn dance at Sir Harry Smith Community College, before the burning of the bear on Sunday, nd the Plough Service at St Mary’s Church.

Straw Bear Festival 2018 at Whittlesey.  Straw Bear leading the parade from Manor Leisure Centre to the Town Centre. EMN-180113-180040009

Straw Bear Festival 2018 at Whittlesey. Straw Bear leading the parade from Manor Leisure Centre to the Town Centre. EMN-180113-180040009

Straw Bear Festival 2018 at Whittlesey. EMN-180113-175911009

Straw Bear Festival 2018 at Whittlesey. EMN-180113-175911009

Straw Bear Festival 2018 at Whittlesey. EMN-180113-180051009

Straw Bear Festival 2018 at Whittlesey. EMN-180113-180051009

Straw Bear Festival 2018 at Whittlesey. EMN-180113-180102009

Straw Bear Festival 2018 at Whittlesey. EMN-180113-180102009

Straw Bear Festival 2018 at Whittlesey. EMN-180113-180157009

Straw Bear Festival 2018 at Whittlesey. EMN-180113-180157009

Straw Bear Festival 2018 at Whittlesey. EMN-180113-180208009

Straw Bear Festival 2018 at Whittlesey. EMN-180113-180208009

Straw Bear Festival 2018 at Whittlesey.  Straw Bear leads the parade EMN-180113-180242009

Straw Bear Festival 2018 at Whittlesey. Straw Bear leads the parade EMN-180113-180242009

Straw Bear Festival 2018 at Whittlesey. EMN-180113-180315009

Straw Bear Festival 2018 at Whittlesey. EMN-180113-180315009