Peterborough Heritage Festival returns
Saturday 17 - Sunday 18 June 2017

Peterborough Heritage Festival is the UK's largest multi-period city centre living history festival and this year celebrates the 375th anniversary of the start of the English Civil War.

This year, experience:

  • Over 300 re-enactors
  • Over 3,000 years of history
  • Over 37,000 people

All in one big weekend of fun - a FREE day out for all ages.

Take a look at last year's festival with our video opposite when the Vikings invaded Peterborough.

The Siege of Woodcroft Castle

The siege of Woodcroft Castle took place in 1648 and centred around the private residence of Charles I’s chief spymaster, Dr Michael Hudson, who had been attempting to liberate King Charles from imprisonment. The story of the battle itself is a grimly comedic tale. Having retreated to his castle and finding himself surrounded, Dr Hudson refused to surrender to the parliamentary forces. Instead, he opted to stand on the battlements shouting encouragement to his troops and profanities at the enemy in a scene that would not look out of place in Monty Python film. Eventually, the castle was breached and everyone inside slaughtered – save for Dr Michael Hudson who decided to try and hide by hanging from a gargoyle outside his window. Once discovered, he still refused to surrender, leaving the parliamentarians no choice but to cut off his hands and cause him to fall dramatically into the moat below. There, Dr Hudson somehow pluckily made his way to land before being stopped by parliamentary soldiers, ritualistically disembowelled and, perhaps most gruesomely of all, having his tongue wrenched from his still flapping, screaming mouth.

Dr Hudson’s tongue was then paraded around cities throughout the nation as a warning for royalists not to use their ‘wagging tongues’ against parliament.

This re-enactment will be staged by Colonel John Pickering’s Regiment of Foote – a local division of the Sealed Knot, Britain’s largest re-enactment community – with the City’s Guildhall taking the place of Woodcroft Castle. As for how Dr Michael’s dismemberment and subsequent descent into the moat below is to be recreated? You’ll have to come and see for yourself.

Performances are at 3pm each day - plus see the soldiers warm up for battle each day with a drill display at 12pm also.

Keynote Lecture: Dr Kate Williams

Queen Victoria: The First Royal Rebel and her Struggle for the Throne

In this beautifully illustrated talk, Dr Williams uncovers the truth about Queen Victoria, showing how she was a wild, vibrant girl, with passions that often got her into trouble. Her mother, the Duchess of Kent was determined on power and she would do anything to achieve it. The two struggled for the throne – in what became the biggest mother-daughter battle in history. As she shows, Victoria’s childhood was unhappy, but it formed her as a great Queen. She grew up determined, able to hide her feelings, and with a penchant for hard work.

The country was feeling beleaguered after George III and his reactionary, playboy sons. When Victoria ascended the throne at just eighteen, her sense of duy and most of all her awareness of the importance of image made her the first modern Queen and, in a very real sense, the saviour of the monarchy.

This talk takes place in Peterborough Cathedral on Saturday 17 June at 7pm.

Book online now by clicking here or call the Key Theatre Box Office on 01733 207239

Horace the Pliosaur

Peterborough has a rich paleontological history with fossils of countless marine reptiles having been unearthed in the soils around the city – marine reptiles such as Horace.

Horace the Pliosaur is a giant, 35 foot-long sea lizard. Fresh out of the Jurassic ocean, Horace is 165 million years old. That’s even older than your Grandad.

Brought to you by performing professors and dotty groom Joe, audiences are invited to explore Horace and help prepare him for the day, brushing his teeth and massaging his paddles, before venturing inside his belly on a cinematic journey full of slimy surprises!

Here exists the eccentric world of Professor Humphrieson, Plesiosaurs and Ichthyosaurs. Horace is a unique blend of engineering, film and live performance with fact-filled, fun, family entertainment. A great opportunity for families to discover Jurassic history in an interactive way.

Children’s Area

Peterborough Heritage Festival is a free day out for all ages – and that includes the young ones. While the main arena displays take place with historical entertainment for all, the little ones can enjoy some traditional entertainment designed exclusively for them with Fiery Jack, our court jester, in the Cathedral grounds.

There are also plenty of fun things to do throughout the day, including family trails, scavenger hunts and even a drawing competition with a wide range of prizes to be won. This could be anything from a free ticket on one of our popular family holiday events to a family ticket to the Key Theatre Pantomime in December, valued at over £60. There are also competitions tailored to adults with prizes including free tickets to our Ghost Walks & Candlelit Tours to free admission to our popular Heritage Workshops which teach traditional crafts all the way from Medieval Calligraphy to Bronze Age Sword Making.

For more information, call Peterborough Museum on 01733 864663 or find the Vivacity Information Tent on the day.

The Main Arena

As always, the real action takes place in our main arena on Cathedral Square. From falconry to battle re-enactments, from dancing to drill displays, our main arena schedule is filled with entertainment for all ages. Take a look at the full schedule below and at the other tabs on this page to make sure you can plan your day to its fullest potential.

Saturday 17 June

10am

Civil War music by the arena

10.30am

Falconry display

11am

Official opening  including grand parade

11.30am

Roman drill display

12 noon

Civil War drill display

12.30pm

Wars of the Roses

1pm

Vikings

1.30pm

World War 1 display

2pm

Falconry display

2.30pm

Normans - The Battle of Lincoln, 1217

3pm

Civil War – The Siege of Woodcroft Castle

3.30pm

Wars of the Roses

4pm

Vikings

4.30pm

Grand Parade of all performers

 

Sunday 18 June

11am

Civil war music by the arena

11.30am

Falconry display

12 noon

Civil War drill display

12.30pm

Wars of the Roses

1pm

Roman drill display

1.30pm

World War 1 display

2pm

Normans - The Battle of Lincoln, 1217

2.30pm

Vikings

3pm

Civil War – The Siege of Woodcroft Castle

3.30pm

Falconry display

4pm

Wars of the Roses

4.30pm

Grand Parade of all performers

 

Plan Your Day

Take a look at our map and main arena schedule below, plus our tips for how to get the best out of your day.

Heritage Festival Map 2017

Saturday 17 June

10am

Civil War music by the arena

10.30am

Falconry display

11am

Official opening  including grand parade

11.30am

Roman drill display

12 noon

Civil War drill display

12.30pm

Wars of the Roses

1pm

Vikings

1.30pm

World War 1 display

2pm

Falconry display

2.30pm

Normans - The Battle of Lincoln, 1217

3pm

Civil War – The Siege of Woodcroft Castle

3.30pm

Wars of the Roses

4pm

Vikings

4.30pm

Grand Parade of all performers

 

Sunday 18 June

11am

Civil war music by the arena

11.30am

Falconry display

12 noon

Civil War drill display

12.30pm

Wars of the Roses

1pm

Roman drill display

1.30pm

World War 1 display

2pm

Normans - The Battle of Lincoln, 1217

2.30pm

Vikings

3pm

Civil War – The Siege of Woodcroft Castle

3.30pm

Falconry display

4pm

Wars of the Roses

4.30pm

Grand Parade of all performers

 

Heritage Festival Top Tips

What to bring with you

Suncream

Peterborough Heritage Festival takes place in the middle of summer in the wide open spaces of Peterborough City Centre so it’s important to keep yourself protected from the inevitable UV rays, especially if you’ve got kids with you.

The NHS website recommends a UVB sun protection factor of 15 or above and a UVA protection rating of 4 stars or above

A waterproof

As mentioned above, the festival takes place in summer. However, being a British summer, the actual weather on the day can sometimes be anyone's guess. All events will be going ahead whatever the weather and, as such, it’s best to be prepared for all eventualities.

A mac-in-a-sac or roll up poncho is a useful thing to keep on hand as they can fit into bags quite easily (unlike an umbrella, is unlikely to poke someone in the eye)

Bottled water

A day in the sun can be particularly dehydrating, but even if the weather is not as clement, it’s good to drink plenty as you’ll likely be active for most of the day.

The NHS Eatwell guide recommends 6-8 glasses a day so it’s wise to bring a litre or so to keep you topped up during the day.

Snacks

Food is available from a number of concession stands throughout the festival, as well as some traditional comestibles to take home from our historic trade fayre. It’s always a good idea to keep something on hand however, just in case you feel those hunger pangs kicking in during an arena display you don’t want to miss. A banana or a small packet of nuts are a couple of good options to give you an energy boost when you find yourself flagging.

Your Smartphone

Our official photographer will be onsite capturing all the best angles of the events of the day - these are available to pre-order in advance in order to save you the hassle of trying to capture our main arena displays on your phone and missing out on the live experience.

However there will be lots of opportunities throughout the day to join in with social media competitions and chances to get photos with characters from history. You can also keep in the loop with up the minute updates from the Vivacity_Museum twitter account. Having your smartphone on you will help you be the first to know what's going on and when.

Making sure the people you've come with have your number will also help you avoid getting separated and keep you safe.

Stay safe

With approximately 40,000 people expected to attend the Heritage Festival this year, it’s a good idea to have a plan in case you and your group become separated.

Here are a few tips:

  1. Make sure you have the mobile phone number of anyone you're attending the festival with.
  2. On arrival, agree an easily identifiable area to return to if you get lost (The Vivacity Information Tent is in a good central location)
  3. Make sure you have any medication or mobility equipment you may need (medical services on site?)
  4.  Make sure any children know not to go off with strangers.
  5.  Protect your peace of mind by signing up for one of our child safety wristbands

What's a child safety wristband?

This year at Peterborough Heritage Festival we are making an extra effort to provide peace of mind to parents, particularly those with small children. 

  1. Sign up with your contact telephone number and e-mail address and child's name
  2. Receive a wristband, with a code that is linked directly to the above details on our securely held list. Make a note of this code.
  3. If you become separated from your child, our team will then discreetly search for your child based on a description and the above code
  4. If your child is found without a parent/guardian, we will use the code on their wristband to find your phone number and contact you directly. 

 Wristbands are available on the day from our Vivacity Information Tent for a minimum donation of £2.50 each (why donations?) or you can sign up in advance to collect your wristband on the day for just £2.

Have fun!

Peterborough Heritage Festival is a FREE day of fun for all ages. There will be plenty to see and do for absolutely no extra cost throughout the day. You can see the full schedule at the top of this page. In addition to this, there are some extra opportunities to get more out of your day which are available for a small donation to Vivacity in order to keep the main attractions of the Festival free for all ages in years to come.

On top of all the great free fun, you can also enjoy:

  • Kids activities & extra magic shows.
  • Pre-bookable workshops:
    • Learn how to make a saxon ring
    • Learn how to make medieval chainmail
  • Competitions
  • Drawing competition for children
    • Entry min £1 donation per child
    • Prize: Family ticket to panto (valued at over £50)
  • Social Scavenger Hunt for Adults
    • Prize: 6 free tickets on your choice of:
      • City Centre Ghost Walks
      • Candlelit Tour
      • Priestgate Vaults
    • Entry min £1 donation
  • Family Trail
    • Activity Pack to keep kids entertained and explore some parts of Peterborough’s Heritage you may not have encountered before.
    • Min donation 50p per trail sheet.
  • Souvenir Photos
    • Our on site photographer will be taking pictures throughout the day.
    • Save yourself the hassle of trying to get all the best bits of the arena on film and instead relax and enjoy the day, knowing that someone’s getting all the best angles on your behalf.
    • You can sign up to order photos from our Vivacity Information Tent on the Day for a min donation of just £7. Or you can save yourself that effort as well by preording online using the form below.
    • What you’ll be sent:
      • A dropbox link containing all the photos that our official onsite photographer has taken on the day.

Any Questions? Let us know

You can use the details below to contact our Heritage Team directly about any queries or you may have before the day.

Simply e-mail museum@vivacity-peterborough.com or call 01733 864663.

Please be aware that responses to emails may take up to five working days.

City Centre car park map

Cathedral Square sits at the centre of the city. There are a number of car parks around Peterborough as well as regular bus and train links.

For full details on all car parks, visit the council car park locations website - this includes all disabled access

From the bus station or train station, the Cathedral is signposted and is less than 10 minutes walk

 

Food, Drink and Historic Craft

There are plenty of places to grab a bite to eat during the Festival. These range from more modern fare to traditional and historically themed food and drink stalls to give you a taste of history to enjoy on the day or later at home.

The main food outlets will be available within Peterborough Cathedral Precincts

Food providers for 2017

In Peterborough Cathedral Precincts

Sundays Hog Roast  Locally sourced pork, served with sauce and stuffing
Mario's Ice Cream  Traditional Italian ice cream
Deeping Fudge  Handmade Fudge from Market Deeping
Watergull Orchards  Apple juice, pear juice and cider
All Sorts of Liquorice  Liquorice and other confectionery 
Natures Harvest   Handmade fudge, confectionery, chutneys and jams
English Spirit Distillery  Gin, Vodka, Whiskey and other spirits from an independent distillery in Great Yeldham
Lymn Bank Farm Cheese Company  Peterborian Cheese - smoked, flavoured and handcrafted.
Daniella's Cakes and Bakes  A wide range of homemade tasty treats

Historic Trade Fayre Stalls

In Peterborough Cathedral Precincts

Name of Trader Produce
The Merchant Venturers Helmets, Glassware, Living History Equipment Bags, Pouches and Belts, Candles, Clay Pipes, Horn & Bone Products.
Bounty of Midgard/Mr Fossil Rocks, minerals, fossils, crystals, dinosaurs, household items made of rock.
Alex Greenland Basket ware, wooden products, olive wood products, gemstones, minerals, fossils.
Arts and Beauty Ltd trading as Bohemia Beauty Replica of historical glass, medieval ceramic, jewellery, medieval wooden boxes and gifts, sheepskins.
The Green Man Green Man plaques, Green Man soaps, crafts, garlands.
Noctule Historical clothing, hats & domestic items, wooden boxes & chests, wooden swords, shields, Venetian masks, pewter jewellery and badges.
Candles for All Ages Candles and accessories, incense and accessories, historical style goblets and tankards, soaps, cross stitch items.
Pilgrims Pottery Pottery, jewellery, pewter and wooden wares.
Herbal Haven Culinary, medicinal and aromatic herbs growing in pots.
Forgotten Fare Historic foods, medieval spice mixes, candy, breads and buscuits, Tudor Seville orange preserves, pickles, Victorian and vintage cakes and biscuits.
Leatherpear Leather goods, crossbows, medieval replica daggers, bottles, gloves, strings.
Roo the Leathercarver hand carved and made leather goods - belts, bags, pouches.
Steel Maiden Metal vessels and jewellery.  Chainmail workshops.

Getting around

As the festival takes place in Cathedral Square and around the Cathedral, most of the terrain is smooth and fully accessible. Into the gardens around the Cathedral, the ground is flat but onto grass. Adverse weather may affect the firmness of the ground in the gardens but won't affect the hard-standings or paths around the gardens.

Performances and reenactments will take place in the main arena on Cathedral Square in front of the Guildhall. There are also performances on the far side of St John's Church and into the Cathedral Precincts. Pathways reach across the whole of the city centre making access throughout the day easier.

The city centre is a 10 minute walk (800m) from Peterborough train station or 7 minute walk (650m) from Queensgate bus station. It is well signposted from both stations.

The longest distance throughout the day is 480m - from Peterborough Museum to the back of the Cathedral. The centre is just 300m from end to end.

We have placed seating areas half way around the graveyard, in the Deanery Gardens and in the Bishops Palace gardens should you need to take a rest.

Getting the best view

There will be a designated viewing area next to the main arena for any visitors with mobility/accessibility requirements.  This includes a hearing loop and the 3pm Civil War performance will be BSL interpreted. To access this area, please contact any member of festival staff on the day. They will be recognised by purple Vivacity t-shirts.  

Unfortunately the cinema inside Horace the Pliosaur is not wheelchair accessible, but you will still be able to enjoy most of the performance.

Getting to the Festival

The closest accessible parking spaces to the Festival is the Car Haven on Bishops Road

The Festival information point is located on Cathedral Square.  

We do not have baggage drop off facilities.

 

Travel

Parking: There are many public car parks throughout the city centre.  For those who require blue badge spaces, we recommend the Car Haven Car Park is 6 minutes walk (480m)

Public transport: The city centre is a 10 minute walk (800m) from Peterborough train station or 7 minute walk (650m) from Queensgate bus station

What to do on arrival

Peterborough Heritage Festival is a free, open festival for all ages. There is no need to register or check in with anyone, just head to Cathedral Square and enjoy yourself.

Events run during the main festival weekend from 10am - 5pm on Saturday and 11am - 5pm on Sunday.

Some tips on getting the most out of your day:

  1. On arrival, head to the Vivacity Information Tent and pick up a Heritage Festival schedule
    1. Let the information tent staff know if you have any concerns about accessibility during the day and if you sensitivity to anything (such as loud bangs or tight spaces). They will be able to advise of which events throughout the day will best suit you and how best to enjoy them (you can also ask them about our competitions on the day).
  2. Make sure to book for any workshops, or Horace the Pliosaur
    1. Let the staff at each sideshow know when booking if you have any additional accessibility requirements. They will be able to advise you as to what provisions they can make for you.
  3. Explore
    1. Inside the Heritage Festival schedule is a map – take some time to plan your route around the site using information on this page as well as by asking advice from staff and volunteers on the shortest routes between activities. You will be able to recognise staff and volunteers by their purple t-shirts.

Where are the toilets?

Toilets are located at the Wheelyard entrance to the Cathedral Precincts, on the way to the Cloisters and half way up the Cathedral graveyard.  At all three points there are accessible toilets.  If you require better facilities than portable toilets, the Cathedral Visitors Centre has an accessible toilet too.

There are no toilet facilities (other than inside the local restaurants) at the viewing area.  Performances do not last any longer than 25 minutes.

Medical services 

There will be a fully equipped ambulance and first aiders based in the Cathedral precincts next to the Wheelyard entrance.

Accessing Performances

Horace the Pliosuar (St Johns Square) will be BSL interpreted/signed at 12:30 on both Saturday and Sunday

The Civil War: Seige of Woodcroft Castle (Main arena) will be BSL interpreted/signed at 3pm on both Saturday and Sunday.

At other times, our interpreter will be on hand to provide assistance should you require it.  Please go to the Vivacity Information Point for this service.

Can I bring an assistance dog?

 

Of course you can!  Please be aware that certain areas can get quite busy, but if you need any assistance throughout the day, just make yourself known to someone in a Festival t-shirt or go to the Information Point in Cathedral Square.

Is there strobe lighting?

 One of the biggest attractions at Peterborough Heritage Festival is our programme of battle re-enactment displays in the main arena throughout the weekend (not to mention falconry and forties dancing). These are performed in broad daylight and with as much historical attention to detail as possible. As such there is no theatrical lighting employed during any of these performances. However, there may be some loud bangs - if you are concerned at any point as to when these may occur, please visit the Vivacity Information Tent by the main arena on Cathedral Square on the day or call Peterborough Museum before the day on 01733 864663.

Occasionally, some sideshows (such as Horace the Pliosaur) may include audiovisual elements such as video screenings. If you would like to know more about the content of these sideshows please ask the individual attendant when booking.

Other accessibility info:

Anything not covered here? Let us know?

Call Peterborough Museum on 01733 864663 if you have any further questions about accessibility issues or ask at the Vivacity Information Tent on the day.

Click on the image to read through our Heritage Festival brochure