The Leamington Peace Festival


Peace Festival 1

 

A sky full of rainbow colours, tee pees and peace signs, that’s what you saw when you walked down Leamington town centre last weekend. Thousands of people swarmed the 36th annual Leamington Peace Festival which took place at the Pump Room Gardens on Saturday 14 and Sunday 15 June.

The streets were packed with teenagers, babies and adults alike walking around with painted faces and food trays of leftover beans and chickpeas. As you walked onto the gardens you were bombarded with the scent of South African street food, crepes and fresh vegetables and fruit. There was music, dancing, workshops covering everything from t’ai chi to knitting, fun and games for youngsters, and reflecting the whole ethos of the event, which was first staged in 1978, a series of Peace Talks.

It was a great event, family-friendly and well organised. The festival is clearly popular and a date in lots of people’s diaries. Of course the glorious sunshine helped, people basked in the rays whilst sipping their brews which were all bought in with them as the festival doesn’t sell alcohol – probably a good thing. The mood was chilled as was the music, there were underlying serious themes and political points being made which you could soak up along with the sunshine.While live music continues to be a major part of the two-day festival, organisers wanted to highlight the ‘peace’ elements of the event and, in efforts to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, invited several groups – including No Glory In War and Peace News – to run talks and workshops looking at peace movements around that time.

Peace Festival 2
A fun filled family day

A particularly eye-catching peace group were Wool Against Weapons – a group of happy, smiling women gathered in a circle surrounded by balls of yarn. They were promoting their event on August 9 2014 which will be a day of creative and direct action with seven miles of knitted wool power – power to the yarn bomb revolution so to speak. Their mission between now and August is to create a 7 mile long knitted peace scarf to stretch between Atomic Weapons Establishment sites at Aldermaston and Burghfield, Berkshire where nuclear weapons are made. Get involved here: http://www.woolagainstweapons.co.uk/

It was great to walk around stalls packed with homemade crafts, jewellery and clothing. Ultimately this is just an event for like-minded people who care about stuff. Some of it may be a little preachy but worth listening to, if only to challenge your own opinions and craft your own ideology. I’ll definitely be returning next year.

By Sara Farmanfarmai

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