Northumberland Miners' Picnic to make a welcome return this summer

A popular event is returning following a two-year absence due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

By David Sedgwick
Thursday, 12th May 2022, 3:01 pm

Museums Northumberland’s much-loved Northumberland Miners’ Picnic makes a welcome return to Woodhorn Museum on Saturday, June 11.

The 158th edition of Northumberland Miners’ Picnic will see visitors return to Woodhorn Museum for a day of live music, performance, and family friendly activities celebrating the county’s proud mining heritage.

Rowan Brown, chief executive of Museums Northumberland, said: “The Northumberland Miners’ Picnic is one of oldest gatherings of its type in the UK.

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The Northumberland Miners' Picnic is returning for 2022.

“Originally held to celebrate the mining industry in the county, and give people who lived and worked in coalfield communities the chance to come together; today, the Northumberland Miners’ Picnic is a way for people to remember our mining history and revel in the sense of community spirit the event is famous for.

“This year’s picnic will be extra special as it will be the first time in two years we’ve been able to gather in person to enjoy our contemporary take on this historic mining tradition.”

First held at Blyth Links in 1864, the Northumberland Miners’ Picnic has taken place in the county every year since 1864, except during the first and second world wars, the general strikes of 1921, 1926 and 1984, the outbreak of foot and mouth disease in 2001, and during the pandemic in 2020 and 2021.

The 2022 Picnic will begin with the traditional miners’ memorial service and wreath laying, commemorating those who died in the coal mining industry.

There will be a host of activities and events taking place at this year's Northumberland Miners' Picnic.

Four local brass bands – Ashington Colliery Brass Band, Bedlington Brass Community Band, Ellington Colliery Band, Newbiggin Jayess Brass Band – will perform.

The music will continue on the main stage with local acts, including pit-pop, folk-rock brass band Dennis; afro-Latin percussion and brass duo, Ladies of Midnight Blue; and headline act The Baghdaddies.

Families can take part in a mini Pride event in Woodhorn’s pit yard with Curious Arts. As well as crafting and storytelling, there will be lots of activities.

Performers from Let’s Circus will be entertaining the crowds with its new pony-themed street theatre performance, On the hoof, and there will be pop-up artworks across the site.

In addition to the food and drink on offer at the Winding House Café, there will also be pop-up food and drink stalls.

The event will be compered by hugely entertaining Bread and Butter Theatre Company.

This year’s Northumberland Miners’ Picnic will be the first in-person gathering since 2019.

In 2021, musician Paul Smith – lead singer of Maxïmo Park – performed an online solo concert commemorating annual Northumberland Miners’ Picnic, and in 2020, the first digital-only Northumberland Miners’ Picnic took place.

Rowan added: “The miners’ picnic was such an important day for people living and working in coal mining communities because it was a day free from work and a chance to enjoy time with family and friends.

“This year’s free community event will be very much the same as we invite people back to Woodhorn to celebrate with us in person.”

The Northumberland Miners’ picnic takes place on Saturday, June 11, from 10am to 5pm.

The event is free to attend, but onsite car parking is £5 per vehicle. A free accessible shuttle bus will also be operating between Ashington and Woodhorn Museum.