This weekend it’s the annual Sweeps festival, which brings the streets of Rochester alive for three rather diverse days! It is fantastic to see a montage of traditional British activities such as Morris dancing and those donning chimney sweep costumes paying homage to the days when this annual holiday allowed boys to leave the soot for a few days of celebration.
It was the perfect excuse to chill with friends and soak up the atmosphere, with live music, funfair rides, stalls and farmers markets there is plenty for all your senses to enjoy no matter your age. My favorite act were the “Fabulous Fezheads’, as I sat eating my lovely hog roast baguette I was thoroughly entertained by their great musical skills and witty remarks. There were lots of other acts that were good too as their music flooded the castle grounds through the day.
I enjoyed looking at the market stalls eyeing up the delicious variety of food from breads to sausages right through to donuts and tasty fudge. I couldn’t resist and had to buy some salted caramel fudge, it was gorgeous I really want to learn how to make my own. There were a lot of cider stalls we even found a Viking horn stall which was rather interesting. There were ones for arts and crafts too, which is always good to see.
Later, we decided to retire to a less packed part of Rochester – the Sweeps Festival attracts people from all over the world so as you can imagine the high street was heaving! My friends found a pub a few streets away from the main action called ‘The Good Intent’ and we started on the variety of cider that was on offer in the outside tent. I never knew there could be so many different flavours! There were some interesting acts performing including a bunch of people wearing feather hats playing kazoos as well as, some bagpipes and banjos which ignited my friend Shane’s burning desire to dance.
Unlike last year, the weather wasn’t fabulous, don’t get me wrong it could have been worse, but I am like a lizard and need those rays of sunshine to warm my cold blood. It was getting late and chilly so I persuaded my friend Joe to accompany me inside and we were astonished to find a whole room of people singing a cappella folk! It was a rather surreal moment but beautiful to see so many people coming together in the community sharing a mutual love of singing and music.
Overall, all I can say is Sweeps is a great festival for friends and families alike. Kudos to historian Gordon Newton who decided to revive the tradition back in the eighties it really is a lovely way to spend your day. I believe it’s the perfect way to mark the start of summer.