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GET READY TO FOLLOW THE BEAR!

Get ready to follow the bear and enjoy a cracking atmosphere as Whittlesey comes alive for the annual Straw Bear Festival.

On what’s usually a chilly January weekend (yes, wrap up folks!) the crowds brave the cold for a fun and quirky day out that’s a really social affair.

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It’s become a huge winter party with the streets and pubs packed to bursting, Molly and Morris dancers springing up in beer gardens and music in the streets around the town.

It’s always busy at this annual event but this year there are more dance teams taking part and they’re expecting even more people to join in the fun.

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It all stems from an old custom linked to the harvest and was revived in 1980 by the Whittlesea Society and has since grown and grown in popularity.

This year’s festival is on January 13, 14 and 15 and kicks off with the Friday night concert at the Ivy Leaf Club (tickets £10) with the main parade on Saturday when the straw ‘bear’ tours the town centre accompanied by dancers and music.

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There’ll be music and poetry sessions in the Town Hall and story tellers in the Methodist church hall followed by a big barn dance at Sir Harry Smith Community College in the evening (tickets £12).

On the Sunday it’s the bear burning from 12 noon till 2.30pm at the College – don’t worry no bears or people are in danger at this one!

Some roads will be closed so hop on the park and ride.

To find out more visit www.strawbear.org.uk

Photos: Chris Brudenell

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