Tamworth’s Castle Grounds were packed with people on Saturday, April 21, for another fantastic St George’s Day extravaganza.
The sun shone for most of the day as estimated crowds of around 11,000 people enjoyed the medieval-themed fun and festivities on offer and not even the rain shower in the afternoon stopped the crowds cheering on St George and his knights.
Families enjoyed free festival highlights at the extravaganza which included all the festival favourites such as jousting, archery, a living history camp, stalls, fairground rides and children’s activities, Beowulf – A Storytelling of Puppets and the return of Epico the last living dragon. This year’s festival also included the new addition of The Tamworth Emerge Festival with a mix of dance, drama and music performances all inspired by Shakespeare.
The popular Grand Medieval Joust remains a firm favourite as thousands of people gathered around the lower lawn to watch the action unfold as knights on horseback, including the legendary St George, came to do battle in the main arena. Crowds waved the flag of St George and cheered and booed along with the Knights of Middle England performers.
This year was made extra special with the launch of a brand new campaign to celebrate the life of Tamworth’s Anglo-Saxon warrior queen and Lady of the Mercians, Aethelflaed, who died in the town 1100 years ago this June.
A large statue of Aethelflaed will be erected near Tamworth Railway Station in the coming months and to celebrate, the St George’s Day crowds joined together on the upper and lower lawn of the Castle Grounds to replicate the statue’s pose and #DotheAethel.
This was kicked off with our very own Aethelflaed leading a mass #DotheAethel just before the main joust at 12pm. For more information on how to get involved, visit www.aethelflaed.co.uk.
Other entertainment on offer included bungee trampolines, zorbing, fairground rides, food and drink, themed activities in Tamworth Castle and the dedicated Children’s Zone, which was enjoyed by hundreds of children throughout the day.
There was also a St George’s Day parade of more than 100 Tamworth scouts who marched through the town centre before renewing their promise in the Castle Grounds.
This year the event was sponsored for the first time by Mercedes-Benz of Tamworth, which was celebrating St George with a Facebook competition to drive a beautiful C Class AMG Line Cabriolet for one weekend. The winner has since been revealed as Lynsey Allen.
Craig Gibson, General Manager of Mercedes-Benz of Tamworth said: “From everyone here at LSH Auto and Mercedes-Benz of Tamworth, we would like to thank Tamworth Arts and Events for giving us a great opportunity in sponsoring the St George’s Day event last weekend. We are already looking forward to attending more future events and offering the whole of Tamworth even more fantastic prizes.”
Visitors took to social media throughout the day and afterwards to share their pictures and praise for the event.
Heather Jacob said: “Great day. Credit to Tamworth.” Carol Tunstall said: “Fantastic day well organised as usual, lovely taking part with the celebrations.” Louise Geary added: “Brilliant day and extremely entertaining performances all round, amazing! Joanne Hobson Spruce commented: “Brilliant we all loved the St George’s day celebrations this morning especially my son.”
Shirley Jenkins added a 5* review on social media: “Great atmosphere, everyone joining in the jousting was fab.”
The free annual St George’s Day festival is one of the highlights of Tamworth’s impressive calendar of outdoor events organised by Tamworth Borough Council’s Arts & Events team in partnership with Ankerside Shopping Centre.
Jeff Wigley, Manager at Ankerside Shopping Centre, said: “It was great to be able to show our support for Tamworth Borough Council and its St George’s Day extravaganza.
“There was a great buzz here at Ankerside on Saturday and the weather was definitely appreciated for all the themed outdoor activities. We hope everyone had a brilliant time and we look forward to see it return in 2019.”
Andrew Barratt, Tamworth Borough Council’s Corporate Director for Growth, Assets & Environment, said: “The St George’s Day festival continues to be one of our most popular events and the Arts & Events team work hard to ensure it continues to live up to and even exceed expectations each year.
“It was great to see so many people enjoying the activities and entertainment on offer. It was also amazing to see the crowds joining in with the launch of the #DoTheAethel. The large attendance figure is great news and will hopefully help to draw more visitors to Tamworth town centre in the future.”