Tim Heath previews the major festivals, re-enactments and fairs coming your way this year (or not).
This article that appeared in this month’s issue of The Armourer was written before the country went into lockdown. It contained dates from the start of May but we decided to only include ones from late June. This is the original article, but you should bear in mind that nothing will take place before June at the earliest, and more likely August, if then. If interested in attending an event, please use the contact details to confirm whether it is proceeding, nearer the time itself. If nothing else, you can use this as a reminder for planning out events that are worth attending for next year.
Thorne 1940s Weekend, South Yorkshire DN8 5BE.
Run by a local independent group of enthusiasts this show includes vintage vehicles, stalls, re-enactment providing live displays and a variety of vintage musical entertainment.
Contact: 07368 493036
Sandwich Salutes the Forties and Celebrates the Fifties. Sandwich, Kent, CT13
This annual event is set in the quintessential English town of Sandwich in Kent.
It is a celebration of both the 1940s and 1950s and encompasses period dress, re-enactment, military vehicles, stalls and music and dancing. During the evening the rock n roll sounds of the 1950s come to life making this event one of a kind and not to be missed.
The Vintage Weekend at The Swan, Lavenham, Suffolk, CO10 9QA.
Friday 8 May marks the 75th Anniversary of VE Day. The show will be celebrating all things related to the 1940s. There will be vintage vehicle displays, music and dance, history talks, vintage stalls and a visit to Lavenham Airfield where it is advised to bring a picnic!
Middy in the War Years. Brockford Station, Wetheringsett, Stowmarket, Suffolk, IP14 5PW.
An event encompassing life in the 1940s, steam trains, military vehicles, displays, re-enactment incorporating soldiers, sailors and airmen. On the Sunday 10 there will also be two sets performed by the ever-popular singer Lisa Day who will be singing vintage numbers from the big band swing era. Weather permitting there will be a flypast from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.
Tilford a Village at War, Reeds Road, Tilford, Farnham, Surrey, GU10 2DL
For a truly atmospheric experience of a wartime English village as D-Day approaches, Tilford a Village at War provides just that. The re-enactors provide the sights, sounds and smells and the day is complimented by the museum there.
Contact: 01252 795571
Temple at War Military and Vintage Show, Cressing Temple Barns, Braintree, Essex CM77 8PD.
This show celebrates its sixth year in 2020 and is held in the fantastic setting of Cressing Temple Barns, Essex. The show has gained a reputation for the scale and quality of its displays and re-enactment and is now known throughout Europe as one of the best military shows of its kind.
Contact: 07907 594307
Blyth Battery Goes to War, Blyth Beach, Blyth, Northumberland NE24 3PQ.
This is a weekend event which takes place around the WWI and WWII Coastal defence museum on Blyth Beach. There will be re-enactors, living history displays, live entertainment with all rooms open on the site.
Haworth 1940s Weekend. Haworth BD22 8DF.
A nostalgic two-day event encompassing vintage vehicle displays, an evacuee’s event, re-enactments, speeches from Mr Churchill, jive dancing, singing and old-time bands.
The Village Church Farm 1940s Weekend, Skegness, Lincolnshire, PE25 2HF.
Some of the finest living history groups in the UK will be in attendance. There is emphasis not only on creating the atmosphere of the 1940s but also the lives of British and Commonwealth soldiers in Europe, North Africa and Burma. You can also get to grips with the German Army, see their equipment from the deserts of North Africa through to the fall of Berlin. There will also be weapons demonstrations and many trade stalls selling vintage and military ephemera.
The Ironbridge Gorge WWII Weekend, Dale End Park, Ironbridge, Telford, Shropshire, TF8 7DW.
This has been a rapidly growing and very popular event that began from humble beginnings in a local pub to an event which attracted 14,000 visitors in 2019.
There will be a wealth of re-enactment from some of the UK’s premier re-enactment groups, stalls, vehicles and live music all to the beautiful backdrop of the stunning Ironbridge Gorge.
Great Central Railway 1940s Weekend, Loughborough, Leicestershire, LE12 8AG.
An evocative commemoration of wartime life featuring aerial displays (Sunday only), mock battles, live music and theatre, vehicles and displays and visiting dignitaries. More details on this year’s event are yet to be finalised.
Contact: 01509 632323
Newport Pagnall Vintage Wartime Event, Milton Keynes, K16 8AQ.
This particular event, taking place on the Saturday 6 June, will be focusing on VE Day themed celebrations. The event includes vintage stalls, indoor displays, living history museum, vintage fashion show, Mr and Mrs Churchill, re-enactments, song and dance 1940s style, military vehicle show and a static Spitfire display.
Southwick D-Day Revival, Hampshire, PO17 6EA.
From current information it would appear that this year will be something of a gap year for this show which has increased in popularity yet relies entirely on charity donations for its running. The organisers felt that Southwick should celebrate 6 June in some context and have come up with the D-Day Evening Event and details are still being finalised at the time of writing.
Homefront Weekend at Michelham Priory, Sussex, BN27 3QS.
An event which celebrates the 1940s in the form of artefacts, food, vehicles, dancing, re-enactment and live music all to the backdrop of the beautifully historic Michelham Priory.
Contact: 01323 844224
1940s Weekend Buckinghamshire Railway, Buckinghamshire Railway Centre, Station Road, Quainton, Aylesbury, Bucks HP22 4BY.
Turn back the clock to the 1940s in the charming setting of Buckinghamshire Railway Centre for Home Guard re-enactments, vintage vehicles, 1940s live music and entertainment, and period dress is encouraged. There are also steam train rides, miniature railways and the Railway Museum.
Contact: 01296 655720
Brighouse 1940s Weekend, Brighouse, West Yorkshire, HD6.
For two days the town centre and shops are transformed back in time to the 1940s for an experience of life in a significant time in our country’s history. There are a number of attractions including a Messerschmitt which you can sit in, 1940s music and dance, vintage vehicles, stalls and something for everyone.
Note: SS uniforms and insignia are not permitted at this event.
Retrofestival, Newark Showground, Lincoln Rd, Coddington, Newark, Nottingham, NG24 2NY.
This is certainly a show not to be missed that includes everything from a Spitfire pavilion, re-enactment, military and vintage vehicles, stalls, air displays, live music and dance and a funfair. A family orientated event that is proving ever popular.
Wartime Bridgend, Carnegie House, Bridgend, Wales, CF31 1EF.
Bridgend town centre will be transformed as vintage vehicles, 1940s re-enactors and army personnel fill the streets for this free historical event. There will be exhibits, music, free vintage makeovers, art and craft workshops, stalls and street performers.
Contact: 01656 815757
War on the Line Mid Hants Railway. The Railway Station, Alresford, Hampshire, SO24 9JG.
Transport yourself back to a 1940s railway against the backdrop of the Blitz to experience the Blitz Spirit at its best. War on the Line 2020 will feature civilian and military re-enactors, vintage vehicles, live music and dance, and stalls selling retro wares. Each station will present a different wartime experience making this superb event one not to be missed.
Contact: 01962 733810
The Dig for Victory Show, Ashton Court Estate, Bristol, BS41 9JN.
The Dig for Victory show brings alive the British wartime Home Front and features 200 military vehicles, classic and vintage cars, re-enactors, history talks, vintage stalls, demonstrations, arena events and live music. There is also a 1940s farm and beautiful camp site.
Bridlington 1940s Festival, Bridlington, Yorkshire, YO16 4PN.
The town of Bridlington celebrates its annual 1940s-themed festival which includes stalls, military exhibitors, 1940s music, swing, dance bands and military vehicle displays and a host of other events throughout the day.
Barnard Castle 1940s Weekend, County Durham, DL128AA.
A weekend of living history celebrating the camaraderie, costume, vehicles and music of wartime Britain. There will also be wartime re-enactment, 1940s entertainments and historical displays all within the idyllic setting of Barnard Castle.
Contact: 03000 262626
Keith & Dufftown Railway 1940s Weekend, Banffshire, AB55 4BA.
A popular weekend event where the railways station takes on its unique wartime look. There will be many exhibits including shops with wartime memorabilia and live demonstrations of old farming machinery. Land girls, Lumber Jacks, and Jack and Jills will all be present to show you how we fought the war on the British Home Front. The Desert Rats will also be in attendance to demonstrate the harsh conditions troops encountered in the desert war.
Contact: 01340 821181
Wartime in the Vale, Ashdown WWII Camp, Badsey, Nr Evesham, Worcestershire WR11 7EN.
Easily one of the largest gatherings of military vehicles in the UK military show calendar. This show combines the unique atmosphere of the authentic WWII camp with its wealth of displays, re-enactment, militaria and vintage stalls and live period music. There are arena displays throughout both days of the show which is complimented further by a flypast from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (weather permitting).
Bressingham 1940s Day. Bressingham Steam and Gardens, Low Road, Bressingham.
A classic 1940s day which normally occurs in May but has been moved to June at the request of the Dads Army Appreciation Society. A few famous faces will be present at this event along with live music, re-enactment, military vehicles, stalls and of course steam trains.
Contact: 01379 686900
1940s Steam Weekend, Epping Ongar Railway, Essex, CM5 9BN.
Situated around the railway this event brings re-enactors, vehicles, and live 1940s entertainment across the weekend with vintage steam engines to give a true feeling of those now bygone days when Britain was at war with Germany.
Contact: 01277 365200
Hever Castle Home Front Weekend, Hever Castle, Kent TN8 7NG.
Combine the Kent countryside at its best and the fairy-tale setting of Hever Castle, and you have the fabulous Hever Castle Home Front Weekend experience. This really is one you should not miss and an event that encapsulates everything about the 1940s from live music and dance, re-enactment, life size model Supermarine Spitfire, best dressed vintage apparel competitions, vintage stall and perhaps most interestingly you can come and meet veterans from WWII and listen to them recount their battlefield stories. This will be on the Saturday only and is supported by the Taxi Charity for Military Veterans.
Springwell Village 1940s Weekend, Gateshead NE9 7RP.
An event which celebrates the history of World War II and the heritage of the village of Springwell where everyone gets involved to give visitors a memorable experience of the 1940s era. The events activities include re-enactment, living history, music and dance along with many other family orientated activities.
Step Back to the 1940s. Severn Valley Railway, Kidderminster, DY10 1QR.
This event sends you on an evocative journey down memory lane back to the 1940s with a light-hearted trip back to wartime Britain. There will be a range of daytime attractions up and down the line and all are encouraged to dress up and join in with the re-enactors on the stations and in the trains. Other attractions include musical entertainment, living history displays and the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight will be putting in an appearance weather permitting.
Meltham Memories, West Yorkshire, HD9 4AG.
This year’s event will focus primarily on the 1950s and 1960s, a decision made by the organisers in an attempt to reach out to a new generation of visitors. Though not leaving the 1940s entirely it was felt this year’s event needed to be freshened up. The event this year will consist of a parade of 50s and 60s vehicles, period dress, stalls, live music and a flypast.
Contact: 01484 521760
The Yorkshire Wartime Experience, Hunsworth nr Bradford, BD4 6RN.
The north of England’s largest military show boasting some 500 military vehicles, combined with re-enactment, militaria stalls, and living history displays this one makes for an action packed and fun family day out.
Contact: 07794 405671
Ingleton 1940s Weekend, Lancashire, LA6 3HF.
Step back in time to the 1940s for a weekend of nostalgic entertainment while learning the history of World War II. There will be music, fashion and an act of remembrance for all those who made the ultimate sacrifice in WWII.
Contact: 01524 241683
Thorpe Camp 1940s Weekend, Thorpe Camp Visitor Centre, Tattershall, Thorpe, LN4 4PL Lincolnshire.
The show brings together re-enactors from all over the country for this annual event together with vintage, military and civilian vehicles. There will be trade stalls, displays and exhibits and a range of other entertainment and what has a reputation for being one of the great shows in the calendar.
Contact: 01526 342249
South Devon 1940s Festival, Buckfastleigh, TQ11 0DZ.
A festival which takes place in the delightful setting of Buckfastleigh, South Devon. There will be displays, vehicles, trade stands and entertainment all epitomising the atmosphere of the 1940s.
Battles for Victory, Birchington on Sea, Kent, CT7 OHR.
This year’s show commemorates 75 years since the D-Day landings in Normandy on 6 June 1944. A fantastic array of military and vintage vehicles have been assembled with re-enactors and their authentic campsites, uniforms, weapons and equipment. There will also be a large variety of vintage stalls to satisfy the collector in what is regarded as an excellent show in every respect.
Contact: 01843 583783
Vintage for Victory, Whitchurch, Cardiff, CF14 7XA.
A three-day event which is inspired by the romance and glamour of vintage fashion and nostalgia. There will be live music and your chosen era of dress is encouraged. The vintage emporium provides a selection of retailers and there will be a full-sized replica of a Spitfire and Hurricane on site with re-enactment crews to tell you all about the aircraft and the battles they fought in during WWII. The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight is scheduled to make an appearance weather permitting.
Contact: 02920 312611
Black Country Living Museum, 1940s Weekend, Dudley, West Midlands, DY1 4SQ.
The Black Country Museum needs little introduction and the 1940s weekend held at this venue proves increasingly popular. Vintage and military vehicles will fill the streets along with military personnel and civilians in 40’s dress. You can meet the Air Raid Wardens, Land Girls, firemen, soldiers and much more. There will also be variety shows and live music and street performers making this a premier and atmospheric event.
Contact: 01215 579643
Woodhall Spa 1940s Festival, Lincolnshire, LN10 6QD.
The Woodhall Spa 1940s festival has a wide variety of 1940s Home Front themed events set to take place at numerous venues around the village over the weekend. The event comprises displays and exhibits, trade stalls, re-enactment and vintage vehicles and entry to this event is free. Details for this year are subject to update and anyone wishing to attend this show should check the website.
Appleby 1940s Festival, North Lincolnshire, DN15 0AS.
Latest information states that this event has now been postponed with an alternative date pending.
Leyburn 1940s Weekend, North Yorkshire DL8 5AH.
This popular festival takes place in the centre of the town becoming an arena for all things 1940s. There will be music, singing and dancing, trade stalls, military vehicles, farm machinery, buses and vintage cars among the many attractions.
Railway at War 1940s Weekend, Mid Norfolk Railway, Dereham, NR19 1DF.
Displays and events will be taking place at four stations along the line throughout the weekend. There will be various displays and stalls, a firepower demonstration of Allied weapons, vehicles and re-enactors plus lots more.
Morecambe 1940s Revival VE Day 75th Anniversary Weekend, Lancashire, LA4 5QA.
This highly popular event is a celebration of the 1940s with special emphasis this year on the anniversary of VE Day. There will be re-enactment, stalls, live music and military vehicle displays.
Contact: 0800 4840093
Retrofestival Newbury, Berkshire, RG18 9QZ.
Encompassing all eras this is one of the finest shows of its kind in the UK.
This year’s show looks to be one not to be missed with live music, events taking place within the arena and showground area, a shopping village packed with vintage stalls, vehicles plus many other quality attractions.
Echoes of History Show, Maldon, Essex, CM9 4RE.
Echoes of History is a multi-period living history and military event where the distant past meets the 20th Century. There will be nearly a thousand living history displays, historical re-enactment plus hundreds of military vehicles present for what promises to be an interesting and exciting family orientated weekend event.
Contact: 07543 881528
Harborough at War, Market Harborough, Leicestershire, LE16 9QB.
A 1940s event presenting a multi war era re-enactment and living history spectacular. This year’s event will feature re-enactment groups, living history, military vehicles, classic cars, battle simulations, displays and trade stalls.
Yanks are Back in Saddleworth, Oldham, Greater Manchester, OL3 6BU.
This annual military show and vehicle parade returns to the villages of Uppermill in Saddleworth. The event brings a wide selection of fabulous 1940s entertainment, historical displays and much more for what promises to be an unforgettable experience as Saddleworth turns the clock back to the 1940s era.
Lincoln 1940s Weekend, Lincoln, LN1 3AA.
Celebrating the spirit of the 1940s this event takes place in the cathedral quarter. There will living history displays, 1940s music and dance, vintage and antique markets as well as vintage children’s rides. The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight of a Spitfire, Hurricane and Lancaster bomber will be paying a visit in the form of a flypast (weather permitting) in what promises to be a great show this year.
M5 Spetchley Living History Show, Worcester, WR5 1RS.
This is a show packed with re-enactments from the ancient Greeks to WWII. There will be a large trader’s area, battle re-enactments with displays throughout the weekend.
Lytham 1940s Wartime Weekend, FY8 5LB.
A unique weekend held at Lytham Green and incorporating historical vehicles, memorabilia, music and dance 1940s style, battle re-enactments and educational talks with demonstrations plus much more.
Ramsey 1940s Weekend, Cambridgeshire, PE26 2XB
A number of attractions feature at this WWII themed show which include re-enactments, vintage vehicles, period dress, displays and live music.
28 July-01 August
The War and Peace Revival Show, Paddock Wood, Kent, TN12 6PY.
The War and Peace Revival show is the premiere event of the year taking place over five days at The Hop Farm, Paddock Wood. This years event promises to be as action packed as ever with battle re-enactments, thousands of military vehicles of all types Allied and Axis, living history scenes and a very substantial selection of trade stalls offering everything from militaria, books, antiquities, vehicle parts, memorabilia and clothing, anything from a shirt button to a tank!
This is one of those events you will not want to miss!
28 July-31 August
Twinwood Festival Bedford, MK41 6AB.
This huge festival held at the historic Twinwood Farm Airfields in Bedfordshire is a multi-era musical extravaganza with over 48 acts in attendance. As the music plays there is also vintage fashion and dancing in which to indulge in.
1940s Living History August Bank Holiday Weekend, Eden Camp, Malton, North Yorkshire, YO17 6RT.
Several small groups of re-enactors will be onsite over the course of this weekend and all are encouraged to attend in period dress. The event will be packed with demonstrations, live music and other entertainment.
Military Odyssey, Kent Showground, Detling, ME14 3JF.
Widely recognised as the show with the greatest variety, Military Odyssey covers a large spread of global history from the Romans, Vikings, Napoleonic, American Civil War, the wild west and World Wars I and II through to Vietnam and the present day. With over 250 stalls, 5,000 re-enactors this show is the largest and most successful of its kind in the world where there is something for everyone.
Dig for Victory, Beamish Museum, Co Durham, DH9 0RG.
Focussed in and around the 1940s farm telling the story of life on the Home Front and the vital support role the British countryside played during World War II. Primarily orientated to our wartime agriculture the show is also a celebration of the agriculture and rural heritage of the North East of England.
1940s Weekend Milton Keynes Museum, MK12 5EL.
This event celebrates the 1940s in style with numerous living history displays, period dress, vehicles and trade stalls which makes for a terrific wartime experience for the family.
1940s Weekend Lincolnshire Wolds Railway, DN36 5SH
This event offers a nostalgic trip down memory lane with re-enactors, vintage vehicles, music, song and dance, WWII aircraft and much more.
Contact: 01507 363881