The Ullswater Droving returns to Welcome the Wolf starting the Droving Festivities

It’s that time of year again when the residents and visitors of Penrith set their clocks back four centuries, wear a mask and join the Drovers in welcoming in the coming Winter. An extraordinary addition this year sees the dramatic return of the Ullswater Droving, as festivities for the Droving season commence on Saturday 21st October by ‘Welcoming of the Wolf’ in Glenridding and Pooley Bridge.

Eden Arts will be working with colleagues at the internationally renowned outdoor arts organisation Walk the Plank with a unique opportunity to participate in creating a magical artwork in Pooley Bridge using Geolights as featured on BBC Countryfile. The unique technology of the Geolights was developed and used last year for the Green Space Dark Skies project with thousands of people across the UK creating magical light patterns in rural locations captured on film.

John Wassell, Co-founder and Creative Producer, Walk the Plank said, ‘it’s great to be partnering with Eden Arts to produce a special Ullswater Droving event celebrating the countryside using our award-winning Geolights – participatory event technology. The landscape around Ullswater is the perfect setting for this next development of the technology. We look forward to meeting and working with the participants on this unique light-based artwork”.’

Adrian Lochhead, director of Eden Arts added, ‘this partnership with Walk The Plank is a fantastic opportunity for people to participate in something very special. It’s a real coup to bring this evolution of Green Space Dark Skies to Ullswater and to create this unique event which will mark the opening of the Droving festivities. We have been following the development of this project and it feels like the perfect fit for the Winter Droving – light, magic and mystery paired with cutting edge technology. And to top it all off Spark! will be returning!’

Lumenators, the name given to the people carrying the magical Geolights, are urged to apply to be part of this event by Wednesday 11th October. Individuals, groups and families with older children can participate in this unique event where they will be directed by Walk the Plank to create a large outdoor artwork to Welcome the Wolf. The name Ullswater comes from the old norse word ‘Ulfr’ meaning ‘wolf’, so the location of Glenridding and Pooley Bridge offer the perfect location to welcome this revered beast.

For those that join us at the event the inimitable Spark! drummers will grace the shores of Ullswater kicking off the event with light, sound and mystique when they process through the streets of Glenridding, sail onto the water with Ullswater Steamers and up the lake where they will disembark at Pooley Bridge Pier. From here visitors will be able to watch the spectacle of the drummers lead a procession from the lakeside and up through the village of Pooley Bridge followed by the hoards of Lumenators who will depart for their Geolight performance. The Geolight performance is not a spectator event, it is a participatory experience so signing up to join in is essential.

This will be the fourth year the Ullswater Droving has taken place, with its first incarnation in 2016 offering a ray of hope after the floods of Storm Desmond washed away the bridge in Pooley Bridge with two more Droving events taking place in 2018 and 2019.

After the Welcoming of the Wolf at the Ullswater Droving event the Winter Droving will return to the streets of Penrith, Cumbria on Saturday 28th October in a celebration of light, fire and rural life. The festival, whose motto is “turn your clocks back 400 years”, is a staple of the autumnal calendar in the north of the north of England, with its tones of Samhain, its fire and animal effigies and masks.

The Winter Droving offers up an array of masked musicians, street performers, giant animal lanterns and locals dressed in elaborate costumes in a unique celebration steeped in tradition. The day begins at 12.00 pm with a fancy dress competition for dogs, while the rest of the town blossoms, showcasing live musicians, street performances, drumming bands and carnival street shows before the eagerly awaited parade. All of this and a diverse range of market stalls offering food, gifts, mulled wine and charity stalls with traditional village fare games.

Want to become a Lumenator at the Ullswater Droving? Deadline for applying is Wednesday 11th October. Apply here: https://www.edenarts.co.uk/projects/ullswater-droving-2023

Participation is free. The event is on Saturday 21 October with rehearsals from 14.30. You will be completely finished by 19.15. Those that can’t make it for 14.30 can still take part with arrival at 16.30 but may have a smaller ‘role’.

There are opportunities for a lucky number of people to carry a torch in the procession which can be found at https://www.edenarts.co.uk/projects/winter-droving.

Participants will not need any previous experience to take part in the Ullswater Droving event – just enthusiasm and time. Eden Arts and Walk the Plank are seeking 500 people to participate. Adults can apply for children under 16yrs but must be advised the Geolights are 1.5kg and anyone participating will need to hold them to take part in the event. If participants have any access needs they are advised to contact Eden Arts.