The Greatest Free Show On Earth

This Friday, 25th May, Putney & Wimbledon Brass Band is very excited to be heading to Saddleworth for its debut outing at Whit Friday. But what exactly is Whit Friday? Read on to find out…

Every year – in a tradition that dates back over the past hundred – brass bands from around the country (and beyond!) gather on the first Friday after the Whitsun to entertain the crowds in the villages of the Saddleworth district, just outside Oldham.

Often referred to as “The Greatest Free Show On Earth,” the bands make a whistle-stop tour around the twelve participating villages in the area. At each stop, they play “on the march” through the crowd-lined streets of the village, before performing a traditional march (this time, standing still!) to be assessed by a ‘blind’ judge hidden in a caravan or similar.

Brass bands of all standards take part and – with prizes on offer for the best performances – each band attempts to visit as many of the villages as possible. Eight is a challenging target, but – with the distraction of beer tents, local food stalls, and the chance to see some of the nation’s most famous brass bands perform for free – most will be happy to make it round the requisite six.

In an area famous for its brass banding heritage, the day brings quite the audience and atmosphere, with the real fun coming from innovative brass arrangements of well known tunes, inventive costumes, and the general chaos of getting 50+ bands through a village in the space of a just few hours.

With fairy-lights – hung from the trees on the village greens – providing the illumination as the sun sets, it’s the perfect setting to meet and mingle with the members of other bands, whilst bonding with those of your own.

Putney & Wimbledon Brass Band has been hard at work, preparing its performance piece, as well as something less traditional to raise some smiles as we march. But what will it be? Follow us throughout the day on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to find out…