Wit Friday walkers in Diggle (Photo: ©StuartColeman)

This year’s Whit Friday band contests are set to attract thousands of people to the borough – including musicians from as far afield as Switzerland and Australia.

Dubbed ‘the greatest free show on earth’, this traditional event dates back to 1884. Contests will run across 11 villages from 4pm until around 10.30pm on Friday, June 9 – following on from the traditional ‘Whit Walks’ in the morning.

This year the Tanunda Town Band from South Australia has made the journey not just to participate in the contests, but also to perform in concerts in and around Saddleworth. BBC Radio 2 will be broadcasting live on the day as part of ‘Listen to the Band’ and will also be filming the event for a BBC Music Day legacy film.

Several months of planning between partners have taken place to ensure residents and visitors can enjoy the day. Helen Lockwood, Executive Director Economy, Skills and Neighborhoods, said: “For more than a century the Whit Friday Band have helped put the borough on the musical map – it is the biggest event on our calendar. We’re delighted to be welcoming bands and visitors from across the country and a lot further to this great free show. It is vital we all support major events like this because they not only put smiles on faces and showcase Oldham, but also contribute to the local economy

“Thanks to the huge efforts made by the organisers and volunteers the event has been a success year after year. We’ve all been working for months with our partners, such as Greater Manchester Police, to ensure that we have all the right traffic diversions, stewarding and policing arrangements in place to make the event a success. We’d encourage everyone to act responsibly and have a great day.”

Once the music has stopped there’s also a huge clean-up operation to carry out. Working alongside an army of volunteers, council staff will clear away litter and empty street bins so that things can return to normal as quickly as possible.

The Saddleworth and Lees District Executive has been closely involved in organising the event and its’ members have again given a significant financial contribution from their devolved funding from Oldham Council towards the costs of prizes, stewarding and other vital amenities.

Some road restrictions are in force in the area from 4pm until midnight on June 9. These have been signposted in advance. Event stewards or police are also on hand at venues if motorists need help. For more information visit: Notices on inSaddleworth

GMP officers will be in attendance across the various contests. They advise all parents to keep in touch with children throughout the day so that you know where they are, who they are with and when you can expect them to return home. Any young person suspected to be in possession of alcohol may be searched.

For more background information on the band contests visit: http://www.whitfriday.brassbands.saddleworth.org/intro.html



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