Sowerby Bridge Rushbearing Festival

This is the ceremonial procession of the annual Sowerby Bridge Rushbearing Festival, which I shot earlier today. The day was blessed by largely good weather, and the dancers, musicians, mummers and other handsomely-attired people made for an extraordinary spectacle.

“Rushbearing dates back several centuries to the time when rushes provided floor covering in the churches. Each year, the old, rotten rushes were thrown out and new ones were taken to the churches in carts. This gradually turned into a celebration and holiday involving revelry, music and morris dancing.

The modern Festival is the only one of its kind in Yorkshire. The focal point of the event is the sixteen feet high, two-wheeled, handsomely decorated and thatched Rushcart, which is pulled by sixty local men dressed in Panama hats, white shirts, black trousers and clogs. They are accompanied by music and five or six teams of morris dancers.

A team of young ladies take turns to ride on top of the cart. A very precarious position indeed. The colourful procession is an unforgettable spectacle as it winds its way through local villages over the course of the weekend.” (excerpts from

Click below for a fullscreen 360° view of the scene in Flash or QuickTime format, or locate the scene in Google Earth.

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