Patron saint will come walking in as Ripon remembers Wilfrid
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Jul 29, 2021
Photo of St Wilfrid's procession
Flashback to a previous St Wilfrid's Day celebration. Picture: St Wilfrid's Procession Committe

The covid pandemic has put paid to official celebrations in honour of Ripon’s patron saint, but St Wilfrid will still be represented on the city’s streets on Saturday.

The tradition, which goes back decades, is being kept alive in the hope that things will be back to normal next year.

Sue Simms, secretary of the St Wilfrid’s procession committee, said:

“Our unofficial St Wilfrid walk is going ahead.”

Actors playing the parts of the patron saint, his monks and followers, will leave from the Spa Gardens gates at 2pm.

The walkers will head for Market Place, North Road, Princess Road, Allhallowgate, Kirkgate, Bondgate, Harrogate Road and finish back at Market Place.

Photo of the Gates at Spa Gardens

The gate at Spa Gardens, where St Wilfrid walkers will gather at 2pm on Saturday before their tour of the city.

Until 2019, St Wilfrid’s Day was one of the city’s biggest occasions of the year, marked by events and a large procession.

Thousands of people would, pre-pandemic, line the city streets and congregate on Market Square.

In addition to causing the cancellation of the 2020 event, the covid lockdowns also affected this year’s activities.

Organisers are looking to use Saturday’s walk as a platform to promote festivities for next year and beyond and will be handing out leaflets along the route.

As well as being the 1,350th anniversary of St Wilfrid founding a church on the site of Ripon Cathedral, 2022 marks the Queen’s platinum jubilee.

In May, Ms Simms told the Stray Ferret:

“We did not feel running a large-scale procession this year would be a responsible choice.

“The situation was complicated by the fact that we would have needed to start applying for road closures back in October.

“Because of the coronavirus crisis, we couldn’t plan ahead with any degree of confidence at that time.”

While there is no St Wilfrid’s Day procession dominating Ripon city centre this year, Market Square will be a hive of activity on both Saturday and Sunday.

Ripon City Council is staging Yorkshire Day Weekend activities on Market Square.


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These will include free children’s fairground rides, musical entertainment from 5.45pm on Saturday and a fireworks display.

On Sunday, there will also be an artisan Market starting at 10am on the square.

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