FESTIVAL PREVIEW/MBNA Chestival
The 2011 MBNA Chestival has arrived at last and the opening weekend will see the city step back in time as the Romans once again invade Chester.
Giants, open-air cinema, Mystery Plays, Midsummer Watch, Vaudeville, star speakers and the Chester Summer Music Festival all lie ahead during the next six weeks.
But on Saturday and Sunday, June 4 and 5, This Is Deva takes over the city, especially Chester’s world-famous amphitheatre.
After the success of 2010’s Roman weekend this event is returning but has tripled in size and it’s all free.
Hundreds of Romans from across Europe will be descending on Chester for a full weekend of activity, including gladiatorial Roman games, a working Roman village, Roman children’s army, military displays and the Roman march through the city centre.
Chester will be taken back more than 19 centuries to AD110 and the height of the Roman age, to give visitors and residents the chance to see, hear and feel the excitement and anticipation of how Chester was in Roman times.
There will be gladiator fights within the hub of MBNA Chestival – the amphitheatre.
The city will be alive with music and dance as performers take over the city, dancing and playing instruments that have been influenced by cultures throughout the Roman Empire.
There will be a large-scale military march on both Saturday and Sunday during which hundreds of legionaries from all over Europe will be marching up Eastgate Street and through the streets of the city.
There will also be a large-scale constructed village with tents and prefabricated buildings, and the gates and walls will once again be guarded and patrolled as they were 1,900 years ago.
Chester’s This is Deva Roman weekend is a unique event for adults and children alike, capitalising on Chester’s Roman history.
Its aim is to make the overall presentation hugely exciting, memorable, relevant, interactive, educational and, most importantly, fun for all the family.
Paul Harston of Roman Tours UK said: “We are hugely excited and proud to be part of MBNA Chestival.
“Last year we saw crowds of more than 8,000 over the weekend and we aim to create the same feeling again this year.
“Chester is well known for its Roman history and visitors the world over are attracted to our museums and historical sites.
“By bringing the Roman age alive once again within the city, we aim to bring visitors back to Chester to experience a historical re-enactment that will keep people talking about it for weeks to come.”
This is Deva is the opening weekend of MBNA Chestival, the summer events programme that celebrates Chester’s best festivals and events – it’s a vibrant festival to kick-start the summer, bringing the streets, buildings and parks of Chester alive for 44 days and nights.
Tracy Lynn, Chester Festivals director, added: “The aim of the Roman weekend is to create something that will wow visitors and attract families to spend the day within the city.
“By capitalising on the heritage of Chester, the event is able to demonstrate the cultural importance of the city and teach residents and visitors the history of how Chester has evolved. It’s hugely important that our history is kept alive and the story of Chester is remembered for many centuries to come.”
The whole weekend of activities is free and further information can be found at www.chesterfestivals.co.uk.