Four of Britain’s top authors whose works are inspired by the Roman Empire will be visiting Chester on Thursday, December 17 to take part in the annual Festival of Saturnalia.
Ben Kane, Ruth Downie, Anthony Riches and Simon Turney will participate in the popular Roman Tours Ltd event by by accompanying 20 soldiers in full battledress lthrough the city streets.
They will help to recreate a real-life celebration in honour of Saturn that would have taken place throughout the Roman Empire at this time of year.
Also taking part in the event are the Ya Raq traditional Arabic Dance Troupe, performing Egyptian and North African dance; and a local druid.
This year, the spectacular Roman ceremony will be followed immediately by the Winter Watch parade featuring a cavalcade of characters that also revives an important tradition from Chester’s past.
Managing director of Roman Tours Paul Harston said: “We always love marching through the centre of Chester and performing the Feast of Saturnalia in the heart of what was 2000 years ago the formidable Fortress of Deva.
“It’s a thrilling event for us to present the event to the many spectators who turn up to enjoy the spectacle and we’re delighted to be working with the Winter Watch organisers this year to create a must-see extravaganza.
“The Feast of Saturnalia was an event celebrated throughout the Roman world that turned everything upside down with masters and servants swapping roles and enjoying a host of chaotic revels very similar to those created by the Winter Watch celebrations.
“It was a festival of light based on the belief that the God Saturn was being released from his bonds so that a period of chaos and merriment could begin.”
The Feast of Saturnalia parade starts from the Grosvenor Museum on Thursday, December 17 2015 at 6.15pm and proceeds via the Roman Amphitheatre along St John Street to the Eastgate, originally the main entrance to the Roman Fortress.
The gates at the Eastgate will opened and torches will be lit by the Roman legionaries before they proceed along Eastgate Street to Northgate Street, where they will meet up with the Winter Watch parade.
The Roman legionaries will lead the Winter Watch at 7pm via St Werburgh Street and Eastgate Street to The Cross where they will send the procession on its way along Bridge Street and Northgate Street to the Town Hall.
There’s also a free lantern-making workshop for children from 5.45 until 6.15pm at the Grosvenor Museum on December 17 so that they can make their own lantern and join in the Saturnalia parade.