10 Reasons To Visit Ashbourne

18th Jun 2013

  1. Shrovetide Football takes place on Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday in Ashbourne; the shops barricade their windows and the town prepares itself for a mad game of no holds barred football through the streets. The game is played between the ‘Upards’ that live to the north of the river Henmore; and the ‘Downards’ that live on the south side. There are about 3,000 players in total.  The ball is ‘turned up’ at 2pm each day and the ball is ‘goaled’ at the mill stones at Clifton and Sturston which are 3 miles apart along the length of the river. The game is not for the feint hearted and bruises and broken bones are not uncommon. To ‘goal’ the ball is a great honour and ties you into the fabric of Ashbourne

  1. Ashbourne Festival takes place in late June to early July each year. The surest indication that the festival is imminent is that the whole town gets covered in 9 miles of bunting. The festival attracts weird and wonderful acts from across the country and some from further afield. This year Arthur Smith, Tony Hawks, Justin Moorhouse and Dominic Holland from the world of comedy are appearing in various locations in and around Ashbourne. There are a good number of musical acts including ABBA Revival, and plenty of poetry, talks and art exhibitions. The town has an upbeat vibe for the fortnight as all the shops, pubs and eateries join in the festivities.

  1. International StreetFest takes place on the first weekend of the Ashbourne Festival and has become an event in its own right. Ashbourne International Streetfest brings together the world’s top street performers.  Hold on to your hats, get ready for an action packed free family festival full to the brim with spine tingling escapades, awe-inspiring acrobats, jaw dropping jugglers, moving mime and performances to stir all your emotions. This year we have; Victor Rubilar, one of the best football jugglers in the world, Dado, a clown with several twists, Todd Various a classic street performer from the USA and Diego Spano who brings to life Chaplin’s ‘The Little Tramp’ in one of the most enchanting street performances you will ever see!

  1. Highland Gathering is on 21st July and is a piping festival and highland games that is proud to proclaim itself as the largest highland gathering outside of Scotland. Key to the event is the piping competition that brings together some of the finest piping bands in the British Isles. There is a highland dancing competition and then there are the highland games with tug-of-war, caber tossing, and a hill run; and not to mention llama racing amongst a great and unique day of events.

  1. Independent Shops really are the life blood of Ashbourne and one of the main reasons for people visiting the town. Even though times are hard economically at the moment, Ashbourne continues to buck national trends and has far fewer vacant properties than the national average. One of the main reasons for this is the high quality and variety of the independent retail sector and the beauty of Ashbourne as a town. Consequently, people will still visit and shop in the town despite the lure of out-of-town and online shopping. Quality will always survive.

  1. Antique shops have been a mainstay of Ashbourne for years. Most of them are based down on Church Street but a number have popped up more centrally in town over the last few years. There is also a proliferation of shops that sell mainly new but have a small section of original vintage items amongst their treasures.

  1. Markets have been around in Ashbourne for nearly 1000 years, in fact Ashbourne at one time had 3 market places. Whilst the cattle market has long since gone from Ashbourne, the street market remains and is having a resurgence at the moment with the recent introduction of a local produce market on the last Thursday of each month and a monthly Vintage market that takes place on a Sunday.

  1. Georgian Architecture and street scene is aplenty in Ashbourne and pays testimony to the wealth and prosperity in and around Ashbourne during the 18th and 19th century. It is easily forgotten that Great Britain was far less London-centric during and after the industrial revolution and towns like Ashbourne had remarkably wealthy merchants and families that capitalised on the new wealth. Many fortunes were made and lost during this period of history but the architecture remains as a legacy.

  1. St Oswald’s Church with its 212ft spire dominates the skyline of Ashbourne. It was built during the 13th and 14th centuries although places of worship occupied the site in Saxon times. The church has three transepts and each one houses a chapel dedicated to three local families; the Cockaynes, Boothby and Bradbourne. The churches cathedral like proportions and the funeral monuments that occupy the chapels are what make the church stand out. In particular the statue of a sleeping child (Penelope Boothby) as it is made from pure white Italian Carrara Marble and is noted for its intricate detail and realism.

  1. Ashbourne Tunnel and Tissington Trail. The Ashbourne to Buxton railway has reinvented itself and is now the Tissington Trail. The tunnel here at Ashbourne is the southern starting point of the Trail and although the Trail doesn't extend quite as far as Buxton, it takes you close to it and into the Peak District National Park. The tunnel runs under part of Ashbourne and was reopened in 2000 as part of The National Cycle Network and brought the end of the Tissington Trail back into Ashbourne (by the leisure centre). The 'Soundtrack' plaque at the entrance to the tunnel refers to a sound art project. You can hear the sound of railway life of earlier years as the tunnel recordings replicate the sound of passing trains, clunks, puffs of steam, whistles, and the slamming of train doors. It's a variable timetable and hopefully you'll be fortunate enough to hear the artwork. BUT be warned there is also a phantom locomotive that shares the tunnel and we strongly advise upon hearing a train to just step aside and let the train pass as you never know whether it’s just art or something more sinister!

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