In a nod to the rich heritage of Bradford’s wool trade, the annual St Blaise Wool Festival is set to grace the city on Sunday, 4th February, unfolding at the Bradford Industrial Museum along Moorside Road from 11 am to 4 pm.

The festival unfurls around a vibrant wool market featuring stalls peddling an array of wool-related wares. To add a melodic touch, the Hall Royd Brass Band and the Bradford Voices Choir will serenade attendees. The festival’s central figure, Bishop Blaise, will also make a captivating appearance, regaling audiences with tales of yesteryears when multitudes congregated to celebrate.

For those with a keen interest in the craftsmanship of wool, the Bradford Guild of Spinners, Weavers, and Dyers will host exhibitions and demonstrations. Visitors will have the chance to try their hand at working with wool under the expert guidance of the Guild.

Renowned local textile artist, Naseem Darbey, will conduct a felt-making workshop, featuring three sessions throughout the day at 11:30 am, 12:30 pm, and 2 pm. The first two sessions can be pre-booked online via Eventbrite, while the third session allows on-the-day bookings at the reception. With only 16 spaces available per session, participants have a unique opportunity to delve into the art of felt-making.

Morning Session Booking: Link

Lunchtime Session Booking: Link

Adding to the festival’s allure is the participation of the Bradford Movie Makers, a local club that promises to contribute to the festivities.

Special exhibitions will unfold, narrating the narrative of the wool trade in the Bradford district, complementing the permanent displays curated by the Bradford Council-run museum.

This celebration forms part of a prolonged effort to resurrect what was once Bradford’s grandest festivities. Prior to 1825, the city marked Bishop Blaise’s day, February 3rd, with a colossal procession held every seven years. The revival was initiated by Bradford’s own poet and showman, Glyn Watkins, and is currently overseen by the Bradford Woolly Heritage Community Interest Company. The inaugural Wool Festival in 2017, hosted at the Bradford Industrial Museum, attracted well over a thousand visitors.

Bishop Blaise, a physician and bishop in Armenia during the late 3rd or early 4th century, is revered for his healing prowess, both spiritual and physical, extending even to animals. As the patron saint of wool-combers, he endured torture, including flaying with wool-comb pins, and beheading for refusing to renounce his faith.

In Bradford’s heyday, the city earned the moniker “Worstedopolis” due to the proliferation of mills and wool-related businesses, including wool-combers. Every seven years, the wool-combers orchestrated a grandiose, fancy-dress procession through the town, the last of which unfolded in 1825.

Councillor Sarah Ferriby, Bradford Council’s Executive Member for Healthy People and Places, said: “We’re delighted to be once again hosting this fabulous event celebrating all things ‘woolly’. I would encourage anyone with an interest in Bradford’s woollen history to visit the museum for this event.”

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