ONE of Chester’s most visually exciting festivals, the Midsummer Watch Parade, will be arriving in the city on June 19 and 20, leading the BiG Giant Parade through the streets in front of a crowd of thousands.
Nestled away in the Forum Theatre, artistic director Russell Kirk has been busy over the last few months creating a colourful menagerie of giant ravens, fish (including a huge pike), suns, moons, camels and St Werburgh herself.
Together, they will form the magical characters of the Midsummer Watch Parade, one of the highlights of Chestival, sponsored by Bank of America.
All the puppets and street sculptures are currently hanging up within the theatre, waiting for the moment when they will be brought to life on the streets of Chester.
Once they leave the theatre the whole community is involved in the parade and pupils from 10 local primary and secondary schools work the puppets as the procession winds its way around the streets of Chester.
Russell has always had an interest in street theatre and completed his degree in art and music.
He went on to learn the art of making puppets and street sculptures, which ultimately led him to become the face behind Chester’s street festivals.
As well as the Midsummer Watch Parade, Russell also organises the Lantern Festivals as well as the Winter Watch Parade. He also looks after the Tree Festival and works with schools to plant trees and dress trees in celebration of these living sculptures.
Russell said: “I have been involved with a number of festivals in Chester for quite some time now and I firmly believe that it is a brilliant way to unite our community.
“I do a lot of work with local schools to get the children involved with the projects so that they too can become passionate about art and Chester’s culture and heritage.”
Russell has been busy running workshops in schools over the last two weeks and has been talking to Chester school children about the Midsummer Watch Parade, as well as showing them how to make masks and hats so that they can join in.
Each year Russell aims to make the Midsummer Watch even better than previous events and always includes something new and exciting for the crowds to see.
This year, with the help of young people from Pine Lodge, he has created the Lord Mayor’s Mount, a lion faced chariot sponsored by Chester Lions Club.
The Midsummer Watch Parade is a magical and mystical festival that sees the streets come alive with ancient characters.
The first Midsummer Watch Parade took place 500 years ago.
The Midsummer Watch Parade travels from the cathedral, down Watergate Street, along the ring road, and then up Whitefriars to Bridge Street, and on to the Town Hall, where the parade ends with juggling, fire breathing and dancing.
The event is free and suitable for all the family. Further information can be found at www.chestival2010.co.uk and www.midsummerwatch.co.uk.
Further information about Russell can be found at www.russellkirk.co.uk.