Canterbury Bid

The Canterbury Medieval Pageant and Family Trail welcomes Henry II and Queen Eleanor back to the city

The 850th anniversary of one of the most important events in Canterbury’s history will be the focus of this year’s Medieval Pageant and fun-packed Family Trail later this summer.

For the first time the Medieval Pageant, which commemorates King Henry II’s famous visit to Canterbury in 1174 to give penance for his role in the murder of St Thomas Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury, will finish in the Cathedral’s Precincts. As part of the pageant, the king will make his official apology.

The event on Saturday 6 July, will see giant models of the King and his wife Queen Eleanor and Saint Thomas Becket parade through the streets of Canterbury, from Westgate Tower to the Buttermarket and then into the Cathedral grounds. The procession will include knights on horseback, re-enactment groups, historical characters, medieval animals, dancers and musicians.

Canterbury Cathedral will be keeping its grounds open as part of the celebrations, with free entry to the Precinct from 9am-9pm, and lots of free activities to enjoy. These include crown and mitre making, the chance to carve and keep your own mason mark, and the first ever ‘carve-off’ between two of the Cathedral’s stonemasons.

The event is organised by Canterbury Business Improvement District (Canterbury BID) as part of its ongoing efforts to boost the local economy and support businesses. The event is sponsored by Canterbury Christ Church University and supported by the UK Government’s UK Shared Prosperity Fund, Canterbury City Council and Canterbury Cathedral.

Lisa Carlson, CEO of Canterbury BID, says: “We are delighted to celebrate this landmark anniversary in Canterbury’s proud history. The parade, now its ninth year, always has such a fun atmosphere, attracting thousands of visitors and inspiring them to stay for the day and explore all the city has to offer.

“The Medieval Pageant is an integral part of our work to support the businesses in the city centre, ensure it remains a vibrant place to visit and strengthen the local economy.”  

The Cathedral’s Head of Visitor Experience, Gina Grubb, added: “We’re really excited to join in this year’s fun. The incredible history of Canterbury and its cathedral are inextricably linked, so it makes sense for us to be involved with the pageant – especially as this year we mark the anniversary of Henry II’s barefoot pilgrimage through the city to the cathedral tomb of St Thomas Becket.”

This year’s theme is Crown and Coronation, so local schools will be creating their own royal crowns and bishop’s mitres to wear in the parade.

Throughout the afternoon the Family Trail will provide an easy-to-follow route around Canterbury city centre with more than 20 participating venues. Pick up a trail leaflet – available across the city – and set off on a journey of discovery. Learn surprising facts about the city, meet medieval combat experts, bakers, weaver, masons, silversmiths and more. The public who visit at least five locations can claim a giant chocolate coin.

The trail is for people of all ages and is a great way to take in all that the city is offering as part of the day, and enjoy Canterbury’s varied shops, cafes, bars and restaurants. This year’s Canterbury Medieval Pageant and Family Trail is expected to be bigger and better than ever before.

For more details of the event and the route it takes through the city centre visit:

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