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Katharine of Aragon Festival returns for 2022

The Katharine of Aragon Festival returns for 2022 next month after being postponed in 2021.
John White as King Henry VIII (1)

Peterborough Cathedral and Peterborough Museum will be hosting the annual Katharine of Aragon Festival from January 27-30, 2022, to mark the date in 1536 when Henry VIII’s first wife was buried at the Cathedral (which was in those days an Abbey).

The centrepiece of the Festival, which includes events for all ages on a Tudor theme, is an audience with King Henry VIII, in the form of performance historian John White.

‘His Majesty’ will be in contemplative mood in the year 1542, reflecting on recent turbulent events, including the annulment of his marriage to Katharine. The performance will be both in person at the Cathedral and also live streamed to allow more people to take part.

At the start of the Festival is a Commemoration Service and wreath laying, on Friday, January 28 at 11am, when dignitaries will lay tributes on the tomb.

Schools would normally attend this service before enjoying a Tudor activity day in the Cathedral but this year, due to the pandemic, they will instead visit in smaller groups over the week leading up to the Festival.

Activities for families over the weekend include ‘At Home with the Tudors’ drop in sessions at the Museum, tours of the Cathedral with ‘Old Scarlett the Tudor Gravedigger’ and, new this year, a short Family Service on Saturday, January 29 at 10am during which children can make a gift to lay on Queen Katharine’s tomb.

A Cathedral filled with music and candlelight is a highlight on the evening of Friday, January 28, when Vespers, sung by the Cathedral Choir at 5.30pm, will be followed by a drop-in open evening, which ends at 8.30pm when everyone is invited to take a seat and hear Compline sung by the choir at 9pm.

A variety of tours take place during the weekend, including a Tudor Peterborough Walk from the Museum, Cathedral Tower and Upper Level tours, and a ground floor tour of the Cathedral with a focus on its Tudor history.

There is also an online talk about Sacred Music from Katharine of Aragon’s time on Thursday, January 27. Details of the full programme, including ticket links, can be found on the Cathedral website here