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A Royal Summons to Ilfracombe Victorian Celebration

Dress up in your finest Victorian gear and join Queen Victoria herself in the Ilfracombe Victorian Celebration, an historic nine-day event.
Where could be more appropriate than to host a celebration of all things Victorian? Each year it celebrates its Victorian past with the Ilfracombe Victorian Celebration which takes place in the second week of June. This nine-day event starts and ends with a parade, and in between the calendar is packed with over 40 different things to see and do.

2014 is the 27th annual Victorian Week in Ilfracombe and one of the highlights is the arrival of Her Majesty Queen Victoria herself to oversee the events. Dressed in sombre mourning black, she certainly doesn’t put a damper on the fun.

Dress up and be part of the Ilfracombe Victorian Week Celebration

Most of the locals and business people dress up in Victorian clothes for the week and they love it if visitors join in. Dig out your old straw boater and blazer, or maybe play the part of a Victorian gentleman by sporting a top hat and tails. Ladies can trim up a hat with flowers and feathers (the height of Victorian fashion) and wear a long skirt and a shawl for the event. Think early Downton Abbey and you’ll get the idea. It makes it so much more fun to let your hair down and be part of the goings-on!

On the first Saturday, arrive early to secure your spot as crowds line the narrow High Street to watch the floats, marching bands, performers and vintage vehicles that make up the lively parade which starts at 1.45pm. Union jacks, parasols and even old perambulators are everywhere so you may feel underdressed in the more usual shorts and a t-shirt! The parade leads to the Vicarage on St Brannocks Road where the Trinity Fair takes place, followed by an evening of music at the Emmanuel Church.

Magic shows and entertainment for all ages

During the week there are magic shows outside the Landmark Theatre every day and Ilfracombe Museum on the seafront has plenty of special events throughout Victorian Week.

Sunday sees everyone out in their Sunday best, admiring the vintage vehicles in the seafront followed by a Blessing Ceremony and children’s games. You are welcome to join the well-heeled “Victorian” ladies sipping tea out of fine bone china, gossiping and listening to live music from the bandstand as part of the Victorian Tea Party. If you miss the first tea party, there is a second chance to do it all over again at the Mayor’s Tea Party on Wednesday afternoon.

Youngsters get their chance to join in as mini Victorians with a Teddy Bears’ Picnic on the Seafront on Monday. They will be entertained with a magic show by David Alexander as part of the event. Even if you’re too old to participate, it makes a cute spectacle to watch! Enjoy Parlour Games in the afternoon and a Pearlies sing-song in the evening.

On Tuesday, the brash “Wild West” cowboys invite everyone to their Western Encampment at nearby Killerton House. There’s a evening with games and prizes.

Best get an early night and catch up on your beauty sleep before the Bathing Belles and Beaus Competition on Wednesday, along with a Choir Concert and a Theatre show in the evening.

The Suffragettes Rally takes over the town on Thursday and there’s a Mock Court dealing out Victorian-style justice to miscreants in the dock which is always most entertaining.

Watch Out for the cowboys at the Ilfracombe Victorian Week Celebration!

Lock up your valuables on Fridays as the Cowboys raid the shops, but all in a good cause, of course. See who’s been locked in the stocks, go country dancing with the infant school then dash home to change for the Grand Ball and Buffet. You’ll be danced off your feet today!

Even if you’re not attending the ball, it’s worth hanging around to see some of the most elaborate Victorian costumes of the week being paraded, and not just by the ladies!

On Saturday morning there’s a Crazy Golf Competition and in the evening choose between a local talent show or a performance of The Ballad of Martia Brown at the .

The Ilfracombe Victorian Celebration ends with another Grand Parade to the Pier on Sunday at 3pm led by Queen Victoria and her entourage followed by a musical concert. Best book your holiday cottage in Ilfracombe now to be part of this fabulous week of entertainment!

Have you attended a Victorian celebration event? What did you wear? Do you think the Victorians had more fun than 21st century holidaymakers? We want to hear your opinions in our comments box below.

About Gillian Birch

Born in Cheshire, Gillian Birch moved to Cornwall at her earliest opportunity and never looked back. After 20 years, her ongoing discovery of popular attractions, quiet footpaths and local eateries has made her a fount of knowledge as she entertains readers with her informative articles on the hidden gems of Devon & Cornwall from a local point-of-view.

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