UK: Northumberland Miners' Picnic to Return to Woodhorn Museum After Two-Year Absence
May 13, 2022 - The Northumberland Miners' Picnic returns to the county on Saturday June 11 after a two-year absence.
The 158th edition of the Northumberland Miners' Picnic will take place at Woodhorn Museum for the first time since 2019, when the last traditional in-person gathering took place. Visitors returning to the museum near Ashington, which recently featured on Antiques Roadshow, can expect a day of live music, performance and family friendly activities to celebrate the county's proud mining heritage.
First held at Blyth Links in 1864, the picnic has taken place in the county every year since then, with exceptions in 1921, 1926 and 1984 due to the general strikes, 2001 due to the outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease, and most recently due to coronavirus in 2020 and 2021. This year's return will begin with the traditional miners' memorial service and wreath laying, commemorating those who died in the coal mining industry.
Four local brass bands - Ashington Colliery Brass Band, Bedlington Brass Community Band, Ellington Colliery Band, Newbiggin Jayess Brass Band - will perform together during the service, before taking to the stage to kick off the day's entertainment. Music will continue throughout the day with pit-pop, folk-rock brass band Dennis; afro-Latin percussion and brass duo Ladies of Midnight Blue; and headline act ska and brass influenced The Baghdaddies.
There'll also be circus performers to entertain the crowds, pop-up artworks across the site and an animated documentary featuring people from South East Northumberland, while pop-up stalls will serve food and drinks. Families are also invited to take part in a mini Pride event in Woodhorn's pit yard with Curious Arts with crafting and storytelling activities to celebrate everything that's quirky and unusual about families.
Though 2020 saw the first ever digital-only Northumberland Miners' picnic took place and last year Maximo Park lead singer Paul Smith gave an online solo concert to commemorate the picnic, organisers are pleased to be welcoming people back to Woodhorn in person.
Rowan Brown, chief executive of Museums Northumberland, said: “The Northumberland Miners’ Picnic is one of oldest gatherings of its type in the UK. Originally held to celebrate the mining industry in the county, and give people who lived and worked in coalfield communities the chance to come together; today, the Northumberland Miners’ Picnic is a way for people to remember our mining history and revel in the sense of community spirit the event is famous for.
"This year’s picnic will be extra special as it will be the first time in two years we’ve been able to gather in person to enjoy our contemporary take on this historic mining tradition. It was such an important day for people living and working in coal mining communities because it was a day free from work and a chance to enjoy time with family and friends.
"This year’s free community event will be very much the same as we invite people back to Woodhorn to celebrate with us in person."
The Northumberland Miners’ picnic takes place at Woodhorn Museum on Saturday June 11 from 10am to 5pm. The event is free to attend, but onsite car parking is £5 per vehicle. A free accessible shuttle bus will also be operating between Ashington and Woodhorn Museum.
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