Nothing says summer more than a village gala! It’s a tradition that spans generations. The world may change around it but the spirit of the festive gala remains. It has never lost its important place in village life and continues to bring together the whole community in a range of traditional family fun activities and entertainment.
Where else can you find teams of people racing the streets in wheelbarrows, and competitions showing strangely shaped vegetables? It’s the very highlight of summer when the children come home with painted faces and armfuls of homemade cakes and biscuits whilst you put away the paperweight you’ve just won in the raffle… to donate to next year’s gala!
The tradition of galas and festivals goes back thousands of years, with the word ‘festival’ first being used in the 14th century. Back then it was very much a religious feast that would bring the community together in a joint celebration to share traditions and stories. Today it is still very much a case of sharing traditions with the whole village by participating in parades, cake stalls, vegetable judging and even some unusual activities such as plastic duck racing!
The Peak District in particular has its own tradition of well dressing. The wells of Derbyshire were regularly used by the people as their only clean source of water and indeed some villages attributed their well water as the reason why they emerged unscathed from the Black Death in 1348. Today they make a point of dressing their wells -an activity in which the whole village participates and which possibly has its origins in ancient pagan rites - laboriously creating an intricate display and placing it next to the well.
No two galas are ever the same, and it is this that gives the village gala its charm and appeal. There is something to appeal to everyone, including lots of entertainment, refreshments, traditional village games and stalls selling local produce and crafts.
Whatever you do this summer, make sure you mark down the gala dates and support the village galas and their valuable work in keeping local traditions alive for the next generation.
PLEASE NOTE: While every effort is made to ensure accuracy, please check with event organisers to ensure there have been no changes.
As if this isn't enough, don't forget how much there is going on in the Hope Valley and wider Peak District!
Click on the pictures below to find out more