Anniversaries in spotlight at the 47th Gathering festival

Ray Alexander as Town Hall architect Sir John Vanbrugh
Ray Alexander as Town Hall architect Sir John Vanbrugh

More than 60 events and 100 competitions will celebrate North East traditions in the 47th Morpeth Northumbrian Gathering.

The three-day festival takes place later this month – and this year there is even more cause for commemoration, with several major anniversaries taking place.

The Gathering will mark 30 years since the Miners’ Strike, the 150th anniversary of Northumberland’s Miners’ Picnic, 300 years since Sir John Vanbrugh designed Morpeth Town Hall and the 1644 Siege of Morpeth Castle in the English Civil War.

The annual festival aims to showcase Northumberland’s traditional music, dance, craft and dialect, with numerous events and activities on offer across the town, and many of them free.

There will be the ever-popular Saturday morning pageant and Storyteller’s Garden, as well as a battle re-enactment by the massed soldiers of the Sealed Knot on the green in front of the castle gatehouse.

A series of concerts will take place, headlined by folk superstars Jez Lowe and Alistair Anderson, and there will be a rare outing for Vanbrugh’s play The Provok’d Wife, as well as Ray Alexander’s one-man show of Sir John’s life.

The Chantry Bagpipe Museum will include a tribute to Northumbrian piping dynasty the Cloughs, with Chris Ormston, while Morpeth Methodist Church will host a Bonny Pit Laddie concert with Johnny Handle and leading choirs performing mining songs, plus young brass band musicians.

There will also be a Georgian music concert and Professor Paul Younger will present a multi-media history of North East mining.

A craft exhibition, bell-ringing, stalls, puppets and orienteering can also be found.

The Gathering competitions include various categories for arts and crafts, singing, reciting, clog dancing, instruments, dialect and writing, and there will also be awards presented for best costumes and window displays.

The festival takes place from Friday, April 25, to Sunday, April 27.

Vintage Leyland Tiger buses will operate on the Saturday, from 10am to 4pm, to provide a park and ride facility from County Hall.

The Morpeth Northumbrian Gathering programme is available from libraries, tourist information centres and online at

Tickets for the concerts and plays are available from the Chantry Tourist Information Centre on 01670 623455.

For competition enquiries, contact Kim Bibby-Wilson on 01670 513308.