A summer festival fit for an Emperor! 4 Jun 2019
This June, everyone is invited to celebrate St Alban’s Day and the city’s Roman origins at the first St Albans Roman Festival. Packed with events for all ages, the festival will take place from 21-30 June and will bring together organisations from across the city.
As well as the packed activities programme, St Albans Cathedral will be unveiling its new Welcome Centre, exhibition and stunning audio visuals that will tell the story of Alban, pilgrimage and the history of this amazing building.
The launch weekend will kick off with two events on 22 June celebrating the story of the city’s namesake. The Alban Pilgrimage will see 12ft puppets take to the city’s streets to re-enact Alban’s journey from trial to execution, featuring all the characters from his dramatic story. Accompanying them will be a procession of Roman soldiers, lions, chariots and even stained glass windows – it will be a spectacular display. All are welcome to join the procession as it makes its way from St Peter’s Church at 11am, through the city centre to the Cathedral.
The celebrations will continue into the afternoon with the first Alban Fest. Taking place on the Abbey Orchard from 12pm-6pm, Roman military battles, medieval pilgrimage badge demonstrations, clay sculpting and music from the Maida Vales will be just some of the free exciting activities taking place. There will also be festival glitter and face painting and plenty of crafts, games, food and music to keep everyone entertained. Also, look out for 12ft Romans, lions, and even Alban himself wandering around for selfie opportunities.
Local businesses and venues are also getting involved in the Roman Festival, including, but not limited to Woodland Yoga with Toga Yoga, St Albans Film Festival, St Albans Museums, the Roman Amphitheatre, the Pudding Stop, the Odyssey Cinema and the Alban Street Festival on 23 June, which will see St Peter’s Street closed to traffic as the annual summer street party takes over the city centre.
There will be something for everyone throughout the 10 days. For instance, for film enthusiasts, St Albans Film Festival will be showing Gladiator as part of their programme of open-air films, the Odyssey Cinema will be screening Ben-Hur, and the Pudding Stop will be hosting a Roman film club accompanied with cocktails and puddings.
A sneak preview for food fanatics, Ye Olde Fighting Cocks will be hosting a range of themed events, including a Roman pub quiz and a specially brewed Bishop’s ale exclusively for the festival. The White Lion pub will be introducing a Roman ‘feastival’ fit for an emperor including menus of wild boar and suckling pig!
The Roman Festival is going to be a real community affair and it has been overwhelming to see so many businesses getting involved with celebrating our unique heritage going back to Alban himself.
Along with the Alban Pilgrimage and the opening of our new visitor centre and facilities, this a great opportunity for all our community to come together in this celebration. We hope you can join in the festival!
By Hayley Lewis, head of marketing, St Albans Cathedral
This article first appeared in the Herts Advertiser on behalf of the St Albans Visitor Partnership in June 2019.