Chipping Campden prepares for its very own Olimpicks
This Friday thousands of enthusiasts are expected to descend on Chipping Campden to join in the annual Cotswold Olimpicks. This year promises to be extra special as the eccentric Games, which many believe to be the historic root of the modern Olympic Games, celebrates its 400th anniversary.
OLYMPIC fever has been sweeping the Cotswolds as Olympic torchbearers make their way through its towns and villages and on July 1 the torch will arrive in Chipping Campden. However this Friday there is a chance to celebrate the Cotswolds’ own unique contribution to the Olympic movement by taking part in the Cotswold Olimpicks on Dovers hill overlooking Chipping Campden.
Some 400 years ago in 1612 a man called Robert Dover revived the spirit of the ancient games of Greece with an eccentric combination of shin-kicking, jumping in sacks and dancing.
The spirit of Robert Dover’s Olimpick Games have continued ever since and in the year of the London 2012 Olympics this year’s celebrations will be bigger than ever.
“It is a bit eccentric,” admitted Dovers Games committee member Stewart Millman “but people love it. The only time it was stopped was in the Civil War because the puritans didn’t like it and during the world wars. We have kept it going ever since. We usually get 5’000 people on the day but this year we are expecting more.”
The packed programme includes a Jacobean village, fun races, traditional sporting events such as tug of war and shin-kicking, falconry, dog displays, dancing and music. A beacon will be lit in the evening followed by a torchlight procession into the town and dancing in the square.
And following with tradition the Games will be opened by Robert Dover, this year played by Father John Brennan.
But a real talking point this year will be the world premier of the London 2012 Olympic welcome songs written to celebrate the spirit of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The songs will be performed by a local choir of 150 singers led by world-acclaimed singer Eliza Carthy.
“The Olympic movement used the Robert Dover games to help secure the bid for London,” explained Mr Millman.
It seems only fitting then that the world premier of the Olympic songs should be heard in this Cotswold town, alongside traditional shin-kicking of course.
The Cotswold Olimpicks starts at 2pm on Friday, June 1. Prices are £6 per adult, £3 for children (5 to 14 - under 5's free). Go to www.olimpickgames.co.uk