Bakewell Funfair and Carnival

Bakewell funfair and carnival is held at the Bakewell Agricultural Centre and is reputed as the biggest and best carnival in Derbyshire – very fitting we feel, for the capital of the Peak District! A gigantic procession is usually held on the first Saturday in July, at the end of the busy carnival week when the whole town comes to a standstill. This allows for a couple of hours of colour and excitement to pass through the town until normal service is resumed once again.

The huge and colourful procession of decorated floats, bands and musicians, fancy dress characters and Carnival Queens who arrive from all over the North of England make their way through the ancient Bakewell Street to the very jolly sounds of singing and dance. With music provided from brass and steel bands, it’s an amazing spectacle which is enjoyed by the cheering crowds and thousands of onlookers who flock to Bakewell each year, to view the fun filled family friendly event.

Carnival week is a big event for Bakewell and highlights include the raft race on the Thursday evening, where locals compete against each other for the wildest and wackiest home-made rafts – some who sink and some who end up swimming, but all ending up at the pub afterwards to get warm and dry which is always a treat. With a practice night held on the Monday, it is a great way to test your waterproofing and only rafts which are entered by the closing time will be allowed take part in the actual race itself. The starting point it is Wynn Meadows and goes all the way to the Big Bend and there are prizes for the best decorated rafts, even if they don’t necessarily make it to the finish line!

There is also the duck race on the Wednesday on the River Wye, which starts at Bakewell Bridge and ends at Iron Bridge and with a first prize of £100, it is definitely worth entering your plastic friend. With all sorts of evening entertainment happening all around the town, Bakewell is always buzzing. The not to be missed dog race features Jack Russell’s -but the organisers themselves say if a dog is small enough to fit in the traps, they will call it a Jack Russell and be done with it! They rightly consider the more entries there are, then the more fun is to be had. At the same time there is a tug-of-war competition which causes friendly trouble and strife.

The fun runs and fell races suit athletes of all ages and abilities, with the infamous red course for the more serious runners. It is a delightfully hilly route through the wonderful woods and meadows bordering the town. At approximately 10 km, it is mainly a race that takes place off road, but if you are not up to that, then the blue course for children and fun runners is ideal for competing as a family group. It is 4km long and mainly flat and along the trail through the meadows which border the town. It’s a wonderful way to see parts of Bakewell you may have not seen before. There are souvenir Bakewell puddings for the first hundred finishers in each race, so good luck to all.

Pet shows will be judged by the vets from Bakewell Veterinary Clinic and with prizes donated from the pet shop, it is a great way for kiddies to enter their best dressed hamsters, guinea pigs, rabbits, cats and dogs but also fish and exotic birds are allowed .Treasure hunts make Carnival Week a highlight and is fun for all the family. It involves a walk around the town starting at the Queens Arms pub in the Market Square, and at only a £1 per adult, children under 16 are free of charge.

Although Bakewell doesn’t actually have any wells, the well dressings are superb and so carefully and lovingly put together. The Blessing of the Wells take place on the Sunday, starting at Bath Gardens and gives a real taste of Derbyshire history. Bakewell Carnival week also brings squeals, candy floss and excitement in the form of the travelling fairground, which arrives for a few days running from Thursday to Saturday.

The carnival is all based around dance, theatre, colour and vibrancy and families all join together to spectate or take part. There are children’s sports which are held on the recreation ground and wheelbarrow and welly races which start at Bakewell Bridge and call in at all the local pubs, finishing in a Technicolor wave of glory on the banks of the beautiful River Wye.

Carnival day itself is heralded by the visiting Queens and the judges for the Queens Trophy entries on the day. There is the Bakewell Classic Car show and then, of course, the infamous procession, which starts at Matlock Street pedestrian crossing. The procession is followed by the bands in the arena and the crowned Carnival Queen will visit the old folk’s home and the hospital. There will be miniature trains and face painting and the traditional Punch and Judy, sideshows and entertainment. Just to warn the visitor there will be traffic delays between 3 and 4.30pm as the main roads through the town close.