Prince William's birthday, International Yoga Day, Go Skateboarding Day (why not combine yoga and skateboarding and celebrate two days for the price of one?), the day before National Onion ring Day. Oh, and my birthday. And what better way to celebrate all of these than at the Chester Midsummer Watch Parade?
The parade started in 1498, but stopped in the 1670s. It was banned in 1599 by Henry Hardware, a Mayor of Chester who had all of the props broken up because the Midsummer Watch was an ungodly gathering that encouraged people to have a good time and behave badly. It returned the following year, due to popular demand and a new mayor. There's lots more history in the link above, including about the revival, which was started in 1989 by Dave Roberts.
To be honest, I think that Henry Hardware's views were pretty spot on, if the characters in the revived parade are anything to go by - it's a full on extravaganza for the senses, with angels, green men, drummers, pirates, crows, dragons, pike, devils, and the traditional giants, as well as a few of the city's great and good.
So, here are a few photos. If it reminds you a little of Summerisle, then that's no bad thing. Though we don't burn a virgin here.
The photos don't do the spectacle justice. Look through the photos whilst you listen to the drums on the video below.
The longest day is a signal of the move towards winter to many, myself included. So it's good to take some time to celebrate this day. If this whets your pagan appetite, welcome the changing of winter towards spring with the Winterwatch Parade in early December.