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Chester Winter Watch Parade 2022

An extravagant Christmas tradition stemming from the Middle Ages

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A flamboyant carnival procession named Chester Winter Watch Parade occurs annually in Chester, Cheshire, northwest England. For two Thursdays in early December, quirky characters occupy the downtown—Karamba Samba, The Lord of Misrule, angels, devils, dragons, giant skeletons, and ice queens. The street extravaganza embraces dancing, fighting on the swords, and a fantastic fire-breathing finale. The action starts at 7 pm at the Forum Shopping Centre (next to Chester Town Hall), the parade makes a circle around the city and finishes at the Town Hall Square.

The whole thing is a modern recreation of the medieval tradition of "Setting the Watch," dating back to the 1400s. The City Guild would give the city keys to the City Watch, and the procession would walk around Chester to ensure the neighborhood was safe. Banquet and festivities followed afterward. Medieval Chester held the ceremony twice a year—at mid-summer and winter, marking the turn of the seasons. The city revived both celebrations in the 1990s. However, Summer Watch Parade turned out to be more conservative, while the winter parade has transformed into a fun and exuberant celebration.

Chester Winter Watch Parade happens in the period leading up to Christmas, which means the holiday season is in full swing. That's the time to admire twinkling lights all over the streets, visit Chester Christmas market, and check out Christmas Tree festival in the Cathedral.

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Last updated: by Olha Savych