Three-day event was a celebration of all that was vintage and Great British in peak district
More than 2,000 bales of straw, 300 deck chairs, 30 tonnes of sand and three miles of bunting helped to make up an absolutely unforgettable Eroica Britannia 2015.
And the three-day vintage cycling and lifestyle event - which has a reputation as the World’s Most Handsome Festival - did not disappoint, attracting well over 50,000 festival-goers to its picturesque site on the Bakewell Showground at the weekend.
This year, 3,600 riders from 52 countries - including Brazil, China, Italy and Australia - signed up to take part in the festival’s iconic ‘Eroica Ride’ on the festival’s third and final day on Sunday. Eroica, Italian for ‘heroic,’ refers to the nature of the bicycle that must be ridden for the event.
Dedicated cyclists, many in fancy dress, headed off on a 30, 50 or 100 mile biking adventures through the heart of the Peak District on pre-1987 steel frame bikes.
When the ride was complete, they headed back to the showground, exhausted and exhilarated, to raise a pint of Thornbridge’s Eroica pale ale, brewed specially for the occasion.
One of the organisers, Nick Cotton, said: “We had people jetting into the region from all over the world, with their family and friends, to take in the beautiful area and enjoy the festival, which truly is a showcase of all things Great British.
“This was only the event’s second year and, with a reputation already in place as the World’s Most Handsome Festival, we really felt we had a title to defend, so we went all out to make sure this year was even bigger and better than the last.”
“The festival site grew by a third this year to cope with the extra demand and included a whole host of new exciting features, including a gigantic vintage family sports day hosted on The Sporting Lawns, The Great British Beach - complete with ice-cream vans and deck chairs - and a vintage fairground, including a helter skelter and steam gallopers.”
Over 200 vendors provided a vintage shopping experience at The British Bazaar and acres of vintage sellers, including the world’s greatest Bike Jumble, featured in The Purchasable Exhibition of Treasures.
This year’s festival also included a dedicated food festival, Graze, which attracted award-winning street food vendors and plenty of live music from BBC Folk Award winner Jackie Oates and One Eskimo.
Patrick Grant, British fashion designer from BBC 2’s The Great British Sewing Bee, spent the afternoon on Saturday judging a huge fancy dress competition, featuring categories such as ‘Best Dressed Family’ and ‘Best Bike in Show,’ which saw hundreds of competitors take to The Parade Ring.
Nick added: “The Ride and the wonderful spectacle it brings to the area places Eroica Britannia in a truly unique position amongst other UK festivals. Our riders, their friends and families give us a core festival audience in addition to the tens of thousands of festival goers that flock into the area for the festival.
“Among those riding this year was pro-rider Malcolm Elliott, of Sheffield, who is the third most successful British male professional cyclist of all time and 83-year-old Brian Robinson, the first British rider to complete the Tour De France in 1955 and the first ever British rider to win a stage in 1959, so that was truly exciting.
“Riders travelling between villages of the Peak were able to replenish and re-fuel at ‘feast-stops’ along the way. Basically different villages had put on huge spreads of local food and drink, creating mini festivals in their own right with music, entertainment, singing and dancing along the route.
“The Ride was, of course, just one part of an otherwise incredible festival. We wanted to be sure that, even if you had never ridden a bicycle in your life, the festival would still be an inspirational, fun-packed weekend full of Great British adventure and entertainment, and I think we achieved that!”
Tim Hubbard, of Eroica Britannia, added: “The International attraction that Eroica Britannia brings to the area gives the chance for a vibrant showcase of local brands, accommodation, businesses and of course the natural beauty of the Peak District. Especially important for local businesses is the fact riders and visitors journey into the arena for pre and post event enjoyment giving a welcome economic boost.
He added: “We are very pleased with the event and would like to thank our riders, festival goers, sponsors, volunteers and the villages of the Peak District for making 2015 so memorable.”
Your festival tweets:
@sanderson_john @peakcycling @EroicaBritannia hundreds of people, every single one with a smile on their face! #cracking
@LuAl22 What an amazing weekend @EroicaBritannia. Incredibly well run throughout. Had a great time with @3RTRacing #vintage
@AinsleyAlan If you didn’t make it this year you must go along next @EroicaBritannia, a fantastic bike festival!
@AGoddard Loved working at @EroicaBritannia for @BuxtonWater last w/e. Did my very first 30 mile cycle on a bike as old as me!
@SallySalw Already planning the steed for next year’s @EroicaBritannia #bestfestivalever
@LucyHighe Fab Weekend!