Midsummer Festival

Castle Bytham Annual Midsummer Festival is the largest single event held in the village during the weekend closest to Midsummer's Day. Held over the Saturday and Sunday, it attracts many thousands of visitors each year.

Castle Bytham Midsummer Festival

Castle Bytham Midsummer Festival logo

THE HISTORY OF CASTLE BYTHAM FAIR

Medieval Fairs, traditionally held in the months of May, June and July, and granted by Royal Charter, were sustained by hosts of visiting buyers and sellers of a wide variety of wares, mainly from other regions of England.  Most Fairs were promoted by eminent local families or religious houses. 

In Castle Bytham, one of the earliest Charters was granted to Robert de Colvile by Henry III in 1247 for an eight-day annual fair and weekly market. The Fair had also celebrated the feast day of the patron saint of Castle Bytham’s church, St James', which can trace its origins back to 1190.  

The Fair was held around the Market Cross which, until its removal in 1830, was located in St Martins.  Later the Fair was confirmed by successive Charters granted by Edward I (in 1281), Edward II (in 1315) and Edward III (in 1347).  However, climactic and social changes that marked the end of this period brought famine, floods and plague which much reduced the wealth of most of the population. Travel was restricted to such an extent that the Fair could no longer be sustained.

Another contributory factor to the demise of the Medieval Fair was the death of the last of the de Colvile family in 1369.  The new local Lord of the Manor, Ralph Basset did not encourage its continuation.

THE BIRTH OF THE MODERN FESTIVAL

In 1993, a committee formed to resurrect the Fair as a means of raising funds for St James' church and the village hall.  In its modern form, the Fair was a mix of street market, entertainment from historical re-enactment groups, Morris dancers, dog show, fair ground and numerous displays, and it proved popular with villagers and visitors alike. 

Over the years the event has grown into a two-day weekend Festival, with live music on the Saturday and Street Market and children's entertainment the focus on the Sunday.  

From a few hundred visitors in the early days it now attracts thousands, many travelling long distances to enjoy what is probably one of the best rural events in the UK to be put on by such a small village.  

The profits from the Festival are still donated to St James' and the village hall, as well as a number of other local good causes.  In the region of 250 volunteers work before, after and over the weekend to make the event a success.