Saddleworth brass band contest: Thousand of music fans watch Whit Friday Parade in Oldham and Tameside villages
Latest News | May 31, 2015
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Huge crowds braved grey skies under umbrellas to take in the sounds of the ever-popular concerts
Thousands of music lovers tooks to the streets of Saddleworth and Tameside for the annual Whit Friday brass band contests.
Mixed weather failed to dampen spirits in villages across Saddleworth and Tameside as dozens of bands hit all the right notes at a series of open-air marches and performances.
Known in Saddleworth and its surrounding villages as ‘The Greatest Show on Earth’, the traditional event dates back to an early brass contest in Uppermill in 1884.
Local residents and businesses are said to have staked small prize money for the band that performed the finest march.
The contests have grown in popularity and this year’s Saddleworth shows saw around 100 top bands from all over the UK and Europe competing in the picturesque moorland villages. Bands started marching at around 10am and made their way up to the Swan Inn in Dobcross.
Huge crowds were pictured enjoying the music whilst sheltering from the rain under umbrellas. But as usual, hundreds of locals and music fans from further afield flocked to watch.
Pictures: The Whit Friday band contest
Upcoming Music Festivals
Michael Powis, landlord of the Swan Inn in Dobcross, said: “This was our busiest day of the year. In Saddleworth, it’s bigger than Christmas.”
Each band played two pieces, one on the march and then a rehearsed show-piece performance on a rostrum. Performances were scored ‘blind’ by a hidden adjudicator with prizes offered for the best band, best youth band and best soloists. More than 50 bands were heard at the busier venues.
The contests, which were held in around 11 villages this year in Saddleworth, followed the traditional Whit Friday walks.
The earliest recorded Whit Friday brass band concert in Tameside dates further back than Saddleworth’s - it’s understood to have taken place in Stalybridge in 1870.
The Way We Were: Take a Whit Walk down memory lane
Huge crowds once again greeted musicians and marchers in Tameside, with performances held in Audenshaw, Broadoak, Carrbrook in Stalybridge, Denton, Droylsden and Dukinfield.
Manchester’s Whit Walks, a traditional ceremony of marching and music, took place earlier this week, with churches from around Manchester and Salford taking in cheers and applause from crowds as the annual procession snaked its way along Deansgate and John Dalton Street to Manchester Town Hall.