The Whit Friday Band Contest.
In the Pennine hills where the old counties of Yorkshire, Lancashire, & Cheshire met,
each village and school has its brass band.
On Whit Friday every village worthy of the name organises a band competition.
Bands go from village to village to see who can win, or just play in, the most contests.
Queues of bands build up at popular contests, always close to a pub.
Bands plot routes to visit the most contests, get there first, outwit rivals.
Competition starts in mid afternoon and goes on into a floodlit night.
It was once just a local event, but now bands come from across the country, some from abroad.
There is no advanced registration. At each village it is "first come, first blow".
A band will check in with the local organiser,
march down the village street,
play a test piece where adjudicators can hear but not see them,
climb into a coach, and off to the next village.
Some Whit Friday, two coaches will meet head-on in one of the narrow winding roads, with unfortunate consequences.
Until recently the village bobby would keep an eye on the event, aided by refreshment stationed on a nearby window-sill.
Now the not-so-local police use it as an opportunity to familiarise police horses with crowds and noise.
Listen to the bands as they come past, or just enjoy the friendly atmosphere.
When the weather is good it can make a pleasant day out, but be sure to come on the correct date.
It varies from year to year.
Church festivals are not always shown on modern calendars.
Don't make the same mistake as the band I spotted one Friday, gloomily drinking lunch at The Old Origial, Scouthead.
They had travelled all the way from Norway, two weeks late.
Whit Friday is eight weeks after Good Friday. The next two are: 17th June 2011, & 1st June 2012.
A couple of related web sites, for the competitions in
The above photos were taken at Delph in 2004.