Dai’s reportage: Christmas in Chester (2)

Watch Parade - 12 - Skeleton fire dancers

The Winter Watch Parade…..

This, which twice at Christmas winds its way through the streets of Chester, is a spectacle of costumes and strange creatures from Wise Men to Ice Queens.  These drawings are essentially ‘behind the scenes’ sketches thanks to Russell Kirk, the Director, inviting me one year to draw the actors preparing themselves and gathering for the show to begin.

Chester Winter Watch Parade - 1                            Making up…..

In a large empty room above the Market Hall the Paraders gathered to dress and apply their make-up; the wall was covered in temporary mirrors stuck up there with tape.

watch parade - making up

It was ideal ground for trying to capture the intensity and care that each actor took to prepare for the public outside.

Watch Parade - 7 Cook
















A fine column of Christmas cooks……Watch Parade - 6 - Cook test









ready to start their Christmas task….



The Karamba Samba, Band of the undead drummers, casting evil eyes at a devil before leading the wild Parade…..

karamba samba band of the dead


…while an older Devil watches,  already dressed and taking a rest….

Chester Winter Watch Parade - 11

There were other drummers too with their bodrums …. the Corn Men, echoes of a distant past and the traditions of the land…..

corn men

…The Wise Men (puppets) carried on their camel  trestle, borne into the Parade by a man at each corner….

Watch Parade - 19 - carrying the 3 wise men


….A group of quite young Romans in their distinctive armour, representing the original foundation of Chester as a Legionary Fortress commanding the North-East corner of Wales…..

Watch Parade - 11 - Young Romans


… The Ice Queens, with long icicle fingers bringing a shiver to the Mid-Winter Festival, the time of lights in the darkest season…


Watch Parade - 20 - the Ice Queens



……and a band of finely uniformed musicians to lend rhythm to the Paraders on their way….


Winter Watch Parade - 15 Band


Finally the Knights, who will act out their annual combat on the Eastgate Street, watched by the crowds on the Rows…


Winter Watch Parade - 17 - Knights


There are many more, but the parade must start – so the skeleton fire dancers raise their burning torches on the dark street…… and the Winter Watch Parade slowly begins to move……


Watch Parade - 13 - Skeleton fire dancers


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