Athelstan 1100 festival packed with activities for all the family to enjoy

24 June 2024
poster with an old saxon drawing of Athelstan and writing saying 'A Celebration of the first King of All England'
  • Festival is a week-long programme of Anglo-Saxon inspired activities
  • Live dance, longboat and living history, archaeology, talks and more
  • Many free activities 

Tamworth Borough Council is inviting people to join a week-long festival delivered by Tamworth Castle and St Editha’s Church, to mark the 1,100th anniversary of the ascension of Athelstan, King of Mercia.

The festival week of celebration, from 20 –28 July includes Anglo-Saxon living history, community archaeology, talks and lectures, demonstrations, dance circus performances and live music.

Athelstan, King of Mercia, was considered by many historians as the first King of England. Athelstan was also the nephew and ward of Our Lady of the Mercians, Aethelflaed. Tamworth, during the Anglo-Saxon times, was the capital of the Kingdom of Mercia, and one of the most powerful kingdoms of Anglo-Saxon England. 

The festival kicks off on Saturday 20 July with world renowned dance circus, Motionhouse, delivering a bespoke performance, featuring local youngsters, inspired by the first true king of England in the Castle Grounds.

Leading pioneers of outdoor dance, Motionhouse, use short, sharp injections of dance and circus to deliver captivating performances to thrill and inspire audiences. Their uniquely stunning performances will take place in the castle grounds against the striking backdrop of Tamworth Castle.

The two performance times are at 11am and 2pm (weather dependent). This event is FREE, but people need to secure a place by booking via: Athelstan 1100 | Award-Winning Heritage in a Stunning Castle (

On Sunday 21 July, audiences are invited to a Beowulf Storytelling at Tamworth Castle, Castle general admission prices apply. 

Festival Evensong takes place from 6pm at St Editha's Church. Evensong from the Book of Common Prayer (1662), will be sung by the magnificent Lichfield Cathedral Chorus, accompanied on the historic Harrison Organ. Free entry. More information.

The weekday events continue including:

Monday 22 July - Annie Whitehead: Anglo-Saxon Lecture - St Editha's Church
Join renowned author Annie Whitehead as she delivers an evening talk on the women of Anglo-Saxon Mercia from 7.30pm - 9pm at St Editha’s Church. Admission is £10 to pay on the door, including refreshments. 

Tuesday 23 July – an evening lecture at St Editha's Church. Join the annual Tamworth lecture of the Tamworth and District Civic Society from 7pm.

Wednesday 24 July - free puppet craft sessions at Tamworth Library. Suitable for children aged five and above Session times are: 10am – 11am, 11.30am – 12.30pm, 1.30pm – 2.30pm and 3pm to 4pm. Contact Tamworth Library to book your place.

A guided tour of Tamworth’s Anglo-Saxon historical sites takes place on Wednesday from 11am. Enjoy a walking tour of the town’s Anglo-Saxon sites with Dr David Biggs, a qualified blue badge and green badge tourist guide, and an expert Tamworth historian. Tickets are priced at £10 and must be pre-booked: More information and booking.

Thursday 25 July – Trouvere: A concert of Anglo-Saxon Music at St Editha's Church from 7.30pm. 
Discover authentic Anglo-Saxon music from the heart of Mercia. This unique performance will showcase the instruments, songs and lyrics of the music heard in Tamworth in the time of St. Godric. Tickets are priced at £7 for adults, pay on the door and children are free. Refreshments available. More information.

A Murder Mystery event - 'A Mercian Murder', by Murder by Appointment, takes place in the town centre from 6pm - 7.30pm.  

Collect a trail leaflet from the Town Hall and meet the suspects involved in the Mercian Murder at locations around the town centre. Local businesses are offering late night opening as part of the celebration week, so grab refreshments as you investigate.

Thursday 25 - Sunday 28 July – Archaeology.
To continue the ongoing exploration of Tamworth’s multi layered heritage, an archaeological team are investigating an area located at St Editha’s Church. The team will concentrate on the external, exposed section of the Old Deanery Wall. Join this exciting opportunity to explore historical evidence of the history of the wall and surrounding topography.

Friday 26 July - Cherry Fair and Procession. 
Reviving a centuries-old tradition, join this FREE procession from the Aethelflaed statue up to St. Editha’s Church, where there will be a celebration and thanksgiving, including re-enactors and cherry refreshments! Gathering at the statue at 10.45am. 

Guided Tour of Tamworth's Anglo-Saxon Historical Sites - 6pm. 

Saturday 27 July - Community Teddy Bear's Picnic.

FREE lunchtime entertainment in the Castle Grounds. 12noon until 2pm. Grab a furry friend, bring your lunch and join in the fun at a special family picnic. Complete with entertainment, games and a free gift for children! Children must be accompanied by an adult. 

Dinosaurs - Come face to face with some of the UK’s biggest walking Dinosaurs as they roam around Tamworth town centre, appearing live at the following times (FREE event)

  • 10am – Cute baby dinosaurs
  • 10.45am – Echo the cheeky Velociraptor
  • 11.30am – Betsy the gorgeous and enormous Triceratops
  • 12.15pm – Roxy the amazing T-Rex
  • 1.30pm – Echo the Velociraptor
  • 2.15pm – Betsy the Triceratops
  • 3pm – Roxy the T-Rex
  • 3.45pm – More cute baby dinosaurs      

Dragon Tails event starts at Tamworth Castle and runs throughout the school holidays. Find out more on the castle website. 

Saxon Longboat - A tribe of marauding Saxons will be making their way by longboat to the Castle Grounds for the weekend of 27 and 28 July. Visitors will be welcome to board the longboat, learn how it was used for trade, coastal navigation, raiding expeditions and learn a host of other information about Saxon life.

Saturday - 10.00am to 5.00pm. Sunday - 10am to 4pm. (FREE event). 

Sunday 28 July - Dragon Wagon Outdoor Theatre - Castle Grounds, Lower Lawn. 12noon and 2pm. Jellyfish Theatre roll up with their playful. Inventive, family show about friendship, food and dragons. 

Come and meet the dragon whisperer and fantastical dragons who live in the wonderful ‘Wagon of Dreams’. 

Pre-booking required. Tickets are priced at £12 adults, £10 child and a family ticket at £35. More information and booking.

Celebration Service - St Editha's Church, 6pm. A special service to conclude Tamworth's Athelstan 1100 commemorations, accompanied by a brass band and singing from local school choirs. FREE. More information.

Stephen Gabriel, Chief Executive for Tamworth Borough Council, said: “What an exciting line-up events are planned for the Athelstan 1100 festival!

“We are joining St Editha’s Church to host a variety of activities for a week-long event, with many of the activities being free for anyone attending. 

“What a great way to kick off the school summer holidays, there is something to entertain all ages.”


Tamworth, during the Anglo-Saxon times, was the capital of the Kingdom of Mercia, and one of the most powerful kingdoms of Anglo-Saxon England. 

The festival is funded by The Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership and builds on the success of recent Anglo Saxon heritage events including King Offa’s Procession in March and Aethelfest in June 2023.

For more information visit the castle website here: