Carnival atmosphere as community unites for spectacular Alban Weekend

Alban Street Festival

Alban Street Festival - Credit: Archant

Giants walked the Earth as St Albans united in celebration of both its namesake saint and community spirit last weekend.

The hugely popular Alban Weekend attracted thousands of visitors to the city for two days of entertainment and activities.

New Mayor Geoff Harrison joined 45 visitors from St Albans’ twin town of Worms to take part in the Alban Pilgrimage on the Saturday to commemorate the life of England’s first martyr with a parade of giant puppets, lions and Roman soldiers.

The Pilgrimage procession attracted approximately 3,000 people along its route from St Peter’s Church to the Cathedral.

The Revd Canon Dr Kevin Walton said: “The Alban Pilgrimage was a wonderful community occasion as we took the moving story of Alban as Britain’s first saint into the city centre, and it was great to see crowds sharing in the celebration. Our two internationally renowned preachers, Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori of the United States and John Bell of the Iona Community in Scotland also brought a special dimension, reminding us of the importance of Alban’s faith near and far.”

Elsewhere in the district, St Albans Folk Festival and the Sandridge 900 Midsummer Gala also proved hugely popular.

The following day 10,000 visitors descended on the city centre to enjoy street performers and live music as part of the Alban Street Festival in St Peter’s Street.

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Festival-goers also experienced family entertainment, arts and crafts activities, food stalls and helped create a Roman mosaic on the pavement in front of the Town Hall.

The festival also saw the lanuch of the community fundraising campaign for “renaissance: St Albans” museum and gallery project, which aims to transform the Town Hall into a new museum and gallery.

Community engagement portfolio holder Cllr Beric Read said afterwards: “It was great to see so many people flocking to St Albans to enjoy the Alban Pilgrimage and the Alban Street Festival on the following day. The Alban Street Festival forms part of the council’s wider strategy to attract visitors to the city, and thank you to everyone who helped to make it a great success. While here, people not only enjoy the entertainment on offer, but also visit the local restaurants and shops.”

The Alban Weekend was launched after councillors found residents were in favour of an annual street party following the success of the Diamond Jubilee event in 2012, but had no interest in a revived carnival procession, axed in 2005 due to a lack of support.