Performers are tuning up ahead of this year’s spectacular Houghton Feast celebrations.
What began as a two day festival in the 12th Century was revived by the local community in 1967 and has become an increasingly popular annual event now stretching over 10 days.
Celebrating its 50th anniversary, this year’s community celebrations have a time travelling theme reflecting the area’s cultural heritage including one of its most historically significant residents - Bernard Gilpin.
The Rector of Houghton 1557 to 1583, Gilpin is thought to have helped launched the Houghton Feast.
Either as an extension of the annual Michaelmass services at the Parish Church of St Michael & All Angels, or as a celebration of his safe return to Houghton after his arrest for heresy when the country was under the rule of Mary I.
Whatever the historic fact, it is well know that he would welcome and feed his parishioners and their families each Sunday from Michaelmas to Easter.
He would regularly give a bullock or hog for roasting to feed the Parish’s poor, which is the origins of the annual Roasting of the Ox for which the Houghton Feast has become famous.
This opening ceremony ‘Houghton Feast 50 : Journey through time laser show’ on Friday, 0ctober 6, will see the Mayor of Sunderland Coun Doris MacKnight switch on the Feast lights display at 7pm.
It will be followed by a parade led by Houghton Area Youth Brass Band with schools carrying Doctor Who-themed lanterns behind large dancing puppets of characters from the world famous television programme.
Also featured will be music from Hetton Lyons School Choir and young Wearside musician Tom Mouse-Smith, 13, a pupil at Houghton’s Kepier Academy, who has performed with stars such as James Bay, Shed Seven and Catfish and the Bottlemen and appeared at music festivals such as Glastonbury and T in the Park.
Chairman of the Coalfield Area Committee Coun Anne Lawson said: “We are proud to support the Houghton Feast, this fantastic annual event helps us celebrate all that is good about our community.
“From our rich cultural heritage and Bernard Gilpin beginning the tradition of ‘roasting the ox’ to the musical, creative and sporting talents of today’s generation.
“Who better to demonstrate this than Tom Mouse-Smith, who has played alongside some of British music’s biggest stars at such a young age and will perform at the opening ceremony to entertain us all.”
The year’s Houghton Feast programme of music, arts, sports, entertainment and community events/activities includes:
- Houghton Feast Community Parade from 2pm on Saturday, October 7
- Traditional Ox Roast from 4pm on Monday, October 9
- Firework display on St Michael’s RC Primary School playing field, off Durham Road, at 7.30pm also on Monday, October 9