Northumberland Miners' Picnic returns to Woodhorn Museum to celebrate 160 years

The Northumberland Miners' Picnic 2023 held at Woodhorn Museum in Ashington, Northumberland.
-Credit: (Image: Newcastle Chronicle)

Brass bands, traditional Northumbrian music, and a DJ set from a local rock star are all on the agenda to celebrate 160 years of the Northumberland Miners' Picnic at the weekend.

One of the region's longest-running events is a day of both celebration and remembrance, with huge crowds expected at Woodhorn Museum near Ashington this Saturday. As always, 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 and Newbiggin Jayess Brass Band; will perform together during the service, before taking to the main stage later in the day. Other highlights of this year's event are expected to be Mr Wilson's Second Liners; a New Orleans inspired marching band who combine 90s rave, techno and club classics.

There will also be traditional music from the Northumbrian Ranters; pop, rock and musical theatre from the Ryton Singers; and a DJ set by musician and Maxïmo Park lead singer Paul Smith. Paul said: "It's an honour to be involved with such an important community event as the Miners' Picnic again.

"The last time I played it was just me, my guitar, and a film crew during the pandemic; so it'll be nice to have an actual audience this time! I love sharing music with people, and that's how I see a DJ set, ultimately - trying to create an enjoyable communal experience with some of my favourite songs blaring out of the speakers."

The Northumberland Miners' Picnic 2023 held at Woodhorn Museum in Ashington, Northumberland.
The Northumberland Miners' Picnic 2023 held at Woodhorn Museum in Ashington, Northumberland. -Credit:Newcastle Chronicle

Rowan Brown, chief executive of Museums Northumberland, said: "As well as continuing to celebrate many of the long held traditions of the Northumberland Miners’ Picnic, I’m delighted that this year audiences have the chance to enjoy some new experiences.

"The Miners’ Picnic has always brought communities together, and I hope people from all over the county and the wider region are able to join us for what is hugely enjoyable day of music, performance, and arts and culture. In the year that marked 40 years since the UK miners’ strike, the Northumberland Miners’ Picnic is a proud reminder of the industry’s thousand-year lineage in our county, and the generations of families that worked in mines across Northumberland and the North East."

First held at Blyth Links in 1864, the Northumberland Miners' Picnic has taken place in the county ever year since 1864, with the exception of the first and second world wars, the strikes of 1921, 1926, and 1984, the outbreak of foot and mouth disease in 2001, and during the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 and 2021.

The 2024 Northumberland Miners' Picnic takes place at Woodhorn Museum on Saturday, June 8 from 10am to 5pm. It 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.