Chester’s Jubilee Gates are set to take a starring role in three Christmas events taking place in the city-centre this year.
Their first appearance will be at a brand new Christmas celebration on Thursday, November 24 that will see a Celtic warrior, a Roman Legionary, a Viking invader, and a Victorian entrepreneur try to enter Chester through temporary wooden gates at the Eastgate and explain how they used to brighten up the winter season with festivities we enjoy today.
The gates will be held in place by a host of Puritans from the English Civil War era who banned Christmas and will try to prevent a contemporary Christmas choir and the cavalcade of characters from times past from returning to celebrate the festive season in their own way.
The Town Crier will be on hand to let spectators know what is happening and the gates will be decorated with seasonal images reflecting how our ancestors contributed to the development of the festive celebrations we relish nowadays.
The special new event forms part of Chester’s Christmas Voices Music Festival organised by the CH1 Chester BID Company and will see the gates at the Eastgate open to welcome a choir into the city, who will wander through the centre and link up with children’s choirs at different locations.
The street theatre at the Eastgate will get underway at 6pm and the choral extravaganza will continue until 8pm.
The temporary wooden gates will also feature in the Lantern Parade on Thursday, December 1, when the giant Queen of Light will enter the city via the Eastgate at 6.45pm and join the popular procession.
The gates will be specially painted silver and white on this occasion and opened by a team of costumed personnel.
The final appearance of the gates will take place on Thursday, December 15 as part of the spectacular Festival of Saturnalia, when a procession of Roman Soldiers carrying flaming torches will enter Chester via the Eastgate, the site of the original entrance to the Fortress of Deva 2000 years ago.
The Roman Legionaries will pass under the Eastgate at 6.45pm through gates decorated with their imperial motifs and march via St Werburgh Street to the Town Hall, where they will join up with the Winter Watch Parade at 7pm for its noisy, anarchic and colourful procession along the main thoroughfares.
Chairman of the Chester Jubilee Gates Steering Group, Gordon Vickers, said: “We are delighted to be able to provide the temporary wooden gates to support the city’s Christmas events programme. They will add a bright, new dimension to Chester’s seasonal festivities and strengthen their appeal to spectators.”
He added: “Our long-term vision is to provide an ornate set of gates that will enhance the city’s current events programme and facilitate the creation of more opportunities for street theatre, which appears to be in line with the aspirations of the Council’s Chester Heritage and Arts Strategy.
“We are currently working on the designs for a permanent set of gates at the Eastgate to mark Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee under the famous clock that was created to celebrate Queen Victoria’s 60 year reign.”