Northumberland Miners’ Picnic celebrates 159th anniversary at Woodhorn Museum
One of the region’s longest running events, the Northumberland Miners’ Picnic, returns to Woodhorn Museum in Northumberland on Saturday 10 June.
The annual celebration of North East mining history and heritage marks its 159th year in 2023.
This year’s event brings together music, performance, and arts and culture in a day of remembrance and celebration of the region’s mining communities and mining industry.
Rowan Brown, chief executive of Museums Northumberland, said: “Woodhorn Colliery closed its doors in 1981, but deep mining continued in Northumberland until 2005. The industry has a thousand-year lineage in our county, and generations of families worked in mines across Northumberland and the North East.
“The Northumberland Miners’ Picnic was first established to bring coalfield communities together so that families could enjoy a day of music, sports, food and friendly competition.
“Today, the tradition is very much the same; with people from across the North East coming together to celebrate this hugely important part of our region’s culture. It’s a day of fun, laughter, and remembrance, and it’s a great way to honour an industry that is still so important to the heritage of Northumberland.”
As is tradition, the day begins with the miners’ memorial service and wreath laying, commemorating those who died in the coal mining industry. Four local brass bands – Ashington Colliery Brass Band, Bedlington Brass Community Band, Ellington Colliery Band, Newbiggin Jayess Brass Band – will perform together during the service, before taking to the main stage for a lively and energetic performance to start the day’s entertainment.
Live music, particularly brass bands, has always been an important part of the Northumberland Miners’ Picnic. At this year’s event there will be performances throughout the day from acts including Blyth Tall Ship Sea Shanty Singers, Northern Monkey Brass, and New York Brass Band.
In the Pit Yard and outdoor areas of Woodhorn Museum, GemArts – famous for its celebration of South Indian culture – will lead a mini mela. Curious Arts, which champions LGBTQAI+ culture and arts, will be delivering a fun, floral pop-up outdoor performance.
Ednie Wilson, a musician and artist from Gateshead, will be holding performances and demonstrations of the Northumberland small pipes inside Woodhorn Museum’s Cutter Building throughout the day as well. Ednie will perform inside the café and host demonstrations in the Ashington Group Gallery, where members of the public can try the pipes for themselves.
This year’s Northumberland Miners’ Picnic also includes drop in artist workshops in Woodhorn’s Cage Shop, rope knot demonstrations from a traditional skills community group from Blyth, and pop-up performances from The Blyth Tall Ship Sea Shanty Singers.
Ashington Town Council have supported local schools and young peoples’ groups to create their own banners which will be on display during the event.
In addition to the food and drink on offer at the Winding House Café at Woodhorn Museum, there will also be pop-up food and drink stalls from Crepes Gourmet, Scream for Pizza, Tandoori Naan Hut, Camerons Brewery and more.
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 global coronavirus pandemic in 2020 and 2021.
The Northumberland Miners’ picnic takes place at Woodhorn Museum on Saturday 10 June from 10am to 5pm. The event is free to attend, but onsite car parking is £5 per vehicle. A free shuttle bus will also be operating between Ashington Leisure Centre and Woodhorn Museum.
For more information and the stage timings go to the Northumberland Miners’ Picnic event listing.