Wednesday 11 July 2012

Buxton Festival - postcard 2

Buxton Well Dressing
Buxton Well Dressing
This week is the 87th Buxton Well Dressing Festival. The festival was established in 1840 but the tradition of well dressing dates back at least to the medieval period. It is a curiously Derbyshire Peak District tradition, whereby wells are celebrated by having decorations made of flowers and other natural objects assembled like mosaics with striking pictures. The tradition may have pagan roots, but nowadays many of the pictures that are created, by pressing the flowers and suchlike into damp clay, are religious.

The dressing at St. Anns Well this year, which took three days to create, was inspired by the 200th anniversary of the founding of St. John's Church. The church was build in 1811 by the Duke of Devonshire to cope with the influx of visitors. During the festival it is the scene not only of sung choral services on Sunday mornings, but regular concerts as well.

Buxton has a particularly loyal group of followers who return year after year. This means that, as you wander round the town during the day, you find all sorts of people breaking into discussions about the operas, mulling over what they have already seen and speculating about what they are about to see. The fact that the productions themselves are sometimes a bit challenging doesn't seem to phase theem, it seems to be the adventure that counts and the ability to see so many operas and other musical and literary evens in such delightful surroundings. Besides the operas themselves, there is a regular daytime recital and a daytime literary event, plus the occasional late night concert scheduled to start after the opera has finished.

My favourite quote overheard so far, I can understand that they were angels, but why did they look like chimney sweeps and have condoms on their heads?

See our Festival pages:
Buxton Festival 2012
Opera Holland Park 2012
Grange Park Opera 2012
City of London Festival 2012

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