It’s time to follow the bear as annual festival takes over Whittlesey

Straw Bear Festival 2018 at Whittlesey.  Straw Bear leads the parade EMN-180113-180304009
Straw Bear Festival 2018 at Whittlesey. Straw Bear leads the parade EMN-180113-180304009

The noisy, colourful and ultimately entertaining Whittlesea Straw Bear Festival returns this weekend.

And there is special reason to celebrate as it is the 40th since the age-old event was revived in 1980.

Straw Bear Festival 2018 at Whittlesey. EMN-180113-175934009

Straw Bear Festival 2018 at Whittlesey. EMN-180113-175934009

The party atmosphere gets under way on Friday at the Ivy Leaf Club in Whittlesey with the annual curtain-raising concert.

This year there is music from Jack Rutter, Ursula Holden Gill and Keith Donnelly.

The fun really begins on the Saturday morning with the procession through Whittlesey - when the Straw Bear makes a first appearance.

It will get under way from the Manor Leisure Centre at 10.30am, making its way to the library via the Market Place.

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

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

From 10.45am to 12pm it will amble around Market Street, Market Place and Station Road before setting off to the Ivy Leaf Club via High Causeway.

The processions will leave there at 1.30pm, passing through High Causeway, Market Place, St Mary’s Street, London Street, Parkinson’s Lane, Woolpack Lane and Market Place before the finale at 3.30pm when it moves on to Manor Leisure Centre.

There are dance sessions planned throughout the day at various locations in the town, finishing with a finale at 3.30pm in the Market Place, Station Road and the War Memorial. Taking part will be Customs and Exiles, Danegeld, Bourne Borderers,Pecsaetan Morris, Hemlock Morris, Gog Magog Molly, Pig Dyke Morris, Ouse Washes, Mortimers Morris,Red Leicester, Southport Sword, Sussex Junction, White Rose Witchmen and Wakefield Morris.

Whittlesey Methodist/ United Reformed Church, in Queen Street will host storytelling sessions at 12.30pm, 1.30pm and 2.30pm featuring Carl Merry.

Straw Bear Festival 2018 at Whittlesey. EMN-180113-175923009

Straw Bear Festival 2018 at Whittlesey. EMN-180113-175923009

Accoustic sessions will take place at the Town Hall, in Market Street, with Poets United performing from 12.30pm to 1.30pm and 3.30pm to 4.30pm. Sandwiched in between (2pm to 3pm) is Greg Russell.

Saturday’s festivities come to a close with the Saturday Night Barn Dance at Sir Harry Smith Community College, in Eastrea Road, featuring music from ceilidh band Banter.

The school also hosts the “Bear Burning” on Sunday from 12pm to 2.30pm, which will involve more music and dance displays, and wrapping up the festival is the Sunday Plough Service at St Mary’s Church at 4pm.

For more on the festival go online to www.strawbear.org.uk

Straw Bear Festival 2018 at Whittlesey. EMN-180113-180528009

Straw Bear Festival 2018 at Whittlesey. EMN-180113-180528009