A TRADITIONAL festival with origins in the medieval returned ‘live’ over the weekend after going online only due to Covid restrictions in 2020.

The annual Houghton Feast returned with a special opening ceremony featuring music, dance, pipes and pageantry in The Broadway, Houghton-le-Spring.

Performances by Houghton Pipe Band, Zazz dancers, the area youth brass band and Houghton Feast Children’s Choir culminated with a minute’s applause for the NHS, followed by the switch on of new illuminations by Sunderland’s Mayor, councillor Harry Trueman.

He earlier opened the Houghton Feast Fun Fair on the Rectory Park fairground, with a special free ride session for children and carers from local special educational needs and disability schools.

They enjoyed supervised rides, courtesy of Murphy’s Fun Fairs and Houghton Heritage Society, before the opening for the general public.

Day two saw the return of the carnival parade featuring more pipes and drums, classic cars, marching bands, clowns, Zazz dancers and vintage steam vehicles, followed by a classic car show, in the grounds of Kepier Academy, in Dairy Lane.

There was also a primary schools’ ‘dash’ road race along Newbottle Street, with the ancient tradition of serving roasted ox sandwiches revived at the Old Rectory, with proceeds from the sale going towards funds for next year’s festival.

Houghton’s ‘Wild Boars’ rugby side staged a special match against Newton Aycliffe, at the Dairy Lane ground, for the coveted Houghton Feast Trophy.

Monday evening sees the return of the Houghton Feast Fireworks Spectacular, on the Durham Road playing fields, at 7.30pm.

The ten-day festival, dating back to the 12th Century, when it originated as a Michaelmas celebration, also features church events, exhibitions of banners and memorabilia reflecting the town’s mining heritage, Houghtonians Around the World, and other displays, talks, tours, a laser show and a heritage walk, on Saturday October 16, starting at 11am from the town centre.

Further details of all events can be found on www.houghtonlespring.org.uk, by email to info@houghtonlespring.org.uk, or via /houghton.heritage, on Facebook.

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