Tuesday, 22 August 2017

A Day Out At The Gala

Hi lovelies! If you follow me over on Instagram, you may know that on Saturday, I went to a gala. Every year, my hometown hosts one of these traditional British events, so since I hadn't attended for years and years I thought I'd go check it out. I hope you enjoy reading about my day! This post is going to include A LOT of photos!

A Day At Darwen Gala

Just in case you've never heard of a gala before, I'll start off by explaining a little about them. 'Gala' is an old name that used to be given to public celebrations and festivals. They were originally big parties to mark the end of seasons or specieal events in the calendar. They were held to raise money for local causes, for charities or to fund something that would benefit the townsfolk. This year marked the 52nd year of the Darwen Gala! 

It's a shame that I can't find much history about the Gala or why it was originally set up! However, I'll just tell you my memories of the Darwen Gala from back when I was a kid. I remember going to the event every year when  I was little with my Dad and my younger sister. Gala day always begins with a parade. It was so brilliant back then, nothing compared to how bad it's been for the last couple of years. Even though I haven't attended the gala itself for ages, I've been watching the parade again since I came back home from university in Nottingham. I usually just walk to the end of my street, watch it and go back home again. 

The parade was very much the highlight of the day for me when I was little; it was so cheerful and loud and exciting! There were so many floats decorated according to the theme of the year, and you could really see how much effort everyone put in. There were loads of troups of dancers, groups of all ages, from morris dancers to majorettes to theatre clubs! Whenever I think of the gala, I immediately hear the nostaglic jingle of all the morris dancer medals that covered the front of the dancer's outfits! There was a marching band that could literally be heard all across the town as soon as they started playing.

I was actually on a float myself one year when I was around 8 years old, and the theme was 'Under The Sea'! It was an awesome experience! I was pretty nervous that I was going to fall off the truck everytime we went over a bump in the road though. It was wonderful waving to all of the cheering crowd too! I had a lot of fun putting together all of our costumes and decorations for the float, which I did with a summer youth club that I went to that year with my brother and sister :)

This year, I wasn't very enthusiastic about the parade to be honest, but I went along because my niece's cheerleading club were on it! That's about the only thing that was on it! There were cars filled with various people and I didn't have a clue who most of them were. The mayor of the town was there, so it's always cool to see the big gold chain that they wear. There was also someone dressed up in a cartoon version of our town's landmark, Darwen Tower. Finally, the parade was lead by a marching band from Accrington. I was lovely to see my niece performing, it made me feel super proud :) But the parade itself was so disappointing. it's just not the same as it once was!

A Day At Darwen Gala

Here's a photo of the float for the cheerleading group that my niece is part of. She isn't on the float as it was reserved for the younger children. She had to walk in front with the older kids up to the site where the main event is held. They also did a performance at the Gala itself and she did fantastic! 
The Gala takes place on some fields across from Bold Venture park, which I blogged about last Wednesday when I went geocaching there! The lower field is filled with rides and those traditional fairground games like Hook-A-Duck. You can find an array of tents and gazebos in the upper field, sheltering various stalls for charities and local businesses. There's always lots of tombola's dotted about the site, where you can win prices that people have donated to help raise money. I always play because it's fun, but I barely ever win *cry cry*. My sister and her girlfriend won some prizes though! This year there were stalls for sweet shops, for local clubs & groups, for a cat rescue and rehoming charity that runs in my hometown and more! 

There were two bigger tents too, one was filled with mostly local business stalls. I regret not buying a cupcake from a bakery stand! This year my town organised a local 'Great British Bake Off' challenge with different categories and prizes, but I avoided going into the other tent because it was pretty crowded! A stage was set up towards the front of the field, along with a pop-up show ring where acts took place throughout the day. My mom was excited to watch a show with miniature ponies so that's where we headed first. The show was performed by four beautiful ponies from Leopold's Equestrian Productions. The ponies in the show were named Obe, Popcorn, Patches and Oli. Patches was definitely my favourite because he was a falabella cross and I absolutely love these horses! You can find out more about the ponies here. They put on a lovely show, even though one of the ponies was being super cheeky and distracting the others from their routine. It just made the show even more entertaining to watch! 

So, finally, here are some photos I took around the Gala show grounds :) 

Horror Ghost Train Ride

Horror Freddy Ghost Train Ride

A Day At Darwen Gala

A Day At Darwen Gala

A Day At Darwen Gala, Tombola,

A Day At Darwen Gala

A Day At Darwen Gala

Leopold Equestrian Productions

A Day At Darwen Gala, I'd rather be with my cat,

A Day At Darwen Gala

Hook A Duck Fairground

A Day At Darwen Gala

Mint Knickerbocker Glory

How awesome is the horror themed artwork on the ghost train!? As a big horror fan, I love it, especially Freddy Krueger! We browsed around the stalls, and I bought myself a couple of things but not much since I'd only brought a tenner with me! I got myself a burger from the food van for my lunch and it was actually really yummy. I also tried my first ever mint Knickerbocker Glory at the end of the day before we headed home. I'd never seen this flavour available before, and I love mint ice-cream! It was very nice but also super sweet so some people might not agree. My mom & I decided to have a go at a tombola game. We couldn't say no when it was only 8 tickets for £1 and money was donated to charity. You had to get tickets ending in a '0' or a '5' to win and neither of us did, nevermind! I've included a picture of the huge Tigger plushie that my sister's girlfriend won :) 

Another activity that the gala offered this year was trips up onto the moors overlooking our town, which is technically in a valley, to explore Darwen Tower. I've mentioned the tower before on my blog but for those of you that didn't see the post, the tower is an historical landmark that was built in 1898 to celebrate Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee. It's a stunning piece of history and architecture, although it has been refurnished over the years. The view from the top of the tower is beautiful and on a clear day, you are supposed to be able to see all the way to the coast at Blackpool and also to the Yorkshire Pennines. 

I haven't been up to the tower since I was in high school, when me and a friend walked up there to draw pictures of the tower for our art class. That was over 10 years ago and since my late teens, I started to develop symptoms of fibromyalia. Of course, I didn't know what it was back then but my knees and ankles couldn't handle the trek up the moors. The gala had organised for Land Rover rides up to the tower with the Red Rose Land Rover Club. It was only £2 for your ride up and back down again, and all of the proceeds went to charity. I thought it would be an amazing experience and I was not disappointed! I loved the ride up the hillside, although it was not easy on my back and felt something like I imagine riding a mechanical bull is like! There was a handle on the dashboard of the Land Rover and I held onto it so tight! It definitely felt as though the vehicle was going to topple over and go rolling down the moors, but with these awesome cars being built for cross-country driving, it made it to the tower and back in one piece!

A Day At Darwen Gala

Darwen Tower

Darwen Moors

Darween Moors

It wasn't a very clear day; in fact it had been raining on and off all afternoon so my photographs don't do the view justice at all! It was breathtaking up there. I felt like the queen of my very own castle! I could see all across my hometown, as well as fields and farmland as far as the eye can see! I saw carpets of purple heather stretching for what seem like miles. It was so so windy up at the top of the tower! It felt like my camera was gonna get swept right out of my hand! I've never clutched it so close to my chest before! It was quite an adrenaline rush to be up at the top, even though I was really struggling to breathe with such strong wind blowing in my face! The tower is 85 ft high! It really is such a gorgeous building and it's definitely worth a visit if you enjoy treks up big hills! 

You've almost reached the end of my post; I hope I haven't bored you with all of this writing! Before I finish, I wanted to show you all the few things that I brought home from the gala :) 

A Day At Darwen Gala

I couldn't resist buying one of the lovely cat-themed products from the Moggies stall, the cat rescue and rehoming charity run from my hometown. They always have cats and kittens looking for new homes so if you're in the Lancashire area and are looking for a new furry addition to your family, please give Moggies a google search. I popped a £1 into the donation bucket and purchased this pretty little ring trinket holder. It's such a nice blue shade and was only £2! The Red Rose Land Rover Club stall was selling a selection of cards, so my mom let me choose one, and since we were going to the tower, I picked this one :) When we first got to the Darwen Gala, I visited the sweet stall and thought it was £2 each for a bag, which I was happy to pay just to support local small businesses. The owner gave me a nice surprise when she told me it was actually 3 bags for £2!! I would have included them all in this photograph if I hadn't have already devoured two, oops.

I had a wonderful day out with my mom and even though the parade was pretty crap, the gala itself was fun and I enjoyed doing something in my hometown. It wasn't as crowded as I thought it would be, but that might have been because of the rain throughout the day. I came home with very muddy boots and leggings that's for sure! 

Thankyou for reading!

 Does your town have any traditional annual events?
Have you ever been to a gala?

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1 comment

  1. I've never been to a Gala before it sounds like a lot of fun! The horror movie artwork is amazing, and the cat trinket holder is super cute. Nice photos!


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