20,000 people descended on Woking Park on Saturday (6 July) to celebrate Woking and enjoy an array of spectacular free entertainment.
Visitors arrived early, not wanting to miss a minute of the packed programme, which started at midday and continued until sun down. Thousands lined the route of the opening parade, led by carnival band, UDM Samba, the Mayor and a quartet of rainbow stilt walkers. The parade made its way through the Bandstand Field towards the Main Stage where Pride in Surrey was performing. Colour, sound, sparkle and excitement flooded the park, setting the tone for the rest of the day.
The Farleys, Woking’s rival to Mumford and Sons, followed on the Main Stage to get the live music programme underway while jazz masters, The Pete Roth Band, kicked things off on the park’s Bandstand.
Dance Woking vied for visitors’ attention, welcoming 25 groups on stage throughout the day in celebration of its 25th anniversary. Among them were 450 school children who had rehearsed for several weeks to perform at Party in the Park.
Pop-up shows, street theatre and performance art could be found in almost every corner of the park. Crowds gathered and watched in wonder as Highly Sprung’s Urban Astronaut bounced and floated his way through the Bandstand Field and gasped at the stunts and tricks performed on two wheels by the RPM display team.
In the Sports Area, people lined up to have a go at skateboarding, rugby, slacklining, aerial acrobatics and archery. Others took to the open-air dance floor alongside The Swingsters, pedalled the smoothie-bike or put their energy into building their vision of a future Woking with the LEGO® brick experts from Brick Galleria.
Eagle Radio presenters, Peter Gordon, Nathan Jones and Dave Wooldridge, supported by comperes Joe Fisher and Duff Eynon, did a great job of keeping the party going throughout the day. Between them they had the honour of introducing Groove Manoova, Motown Gold Frontline and Britain's Got Talent finalists, Old Men Grooving. There was even a guest appearance from Bobby Davro a.k.a. Wishy Washy as event sponsor, The New Victoria Theatre, revealed the celebrity cast behind this year's panto, Aladdin.
Cllr Colin Kemp, Woking Borough Council’s Portfolio Holder for Leisure and Culture Services, said: “This was without doubt Woking’s greatest show! Everywhere you turned there was something exciting to see or do. It was truly wonderful to look around and see families spending time together, outdoors, and to see people of all ages and cultural backgrounds relaxing in the sunshine and having fun together.
“Since 2012, through the Celebrate Woking programme, the Council has been supporting events that showcase the immense amount of talent within the borough; that give people new experiences; and those which celebrate and embrace our diversity. This year Party in the Park achieved all of those things and so much more. I would like to congratulate the team involved in putting on this unique and very special community event. Well done all.”
Local music venue, The Fiery Bird, hosted a stage takeover this year, bringing three of its top billed artists to the Park. Singer-song writers Rebecca Jayne, A.J. Srivastav, and The Mantic Muddlers, helped satisfy people’s thirst for more live music while also keeping the party alive in the Bandstand Field as others made their way towards the Big Screens for the outdoor cinema experience.
Celebrate Woking Manager at Woking Borough Council, Riëtte Thomas said: "Party in the Park just keeps getting better and better. We’ve learnt a lot over the past eight years about what people want from the day and we keep refining the programme in line with this.
“This year we worked with a local production crew, MC Production Group Ltd, and event management company, AAT, which we really feel made a difference. They showed genuine pride in putting on a great event for Woking. This is what we want for Party in the Park; for it to be a community-led event that is a celebration of everything great about Woking. We want to work with a lot more local traders and exhibitors next year to showcase fully, in a fun and creative way, what the borough has to offer.”
Fittingly, Party in the Park 2019, concluded with a free outdoor screening of The Greatest Showman, the tale of visionary P.T. Barnum, who from humble beginnings, created a mesmerizing spectacle that became a worldwide sensation.