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Bury St Edmunds gears up for first ever Dragon Festival ...

Bury St Edmunds is gearing up for its first ever Dragon Festival to celebrate one of the greatest and most magical creatures of all time.

Costumed re-enactments of Beowulf and the Dragon, a reptile roadshow, raptor flight display, storytelling, a ‘live’ 7ft tall T-Rex, a dragon egg hunt, dragon slaying instruction and dragon fire safety drills are just some of the treats in store for those who want to learn more about this legendary creature.

Throughout history, Dragons have appeared in every culture across every land* and featured in everything from the greatest of literature to the highest of art, blockbuster movies, popular cartoons and video games.

West Stow Anglo-Saxon Village and surrounding Country Park is now to host an activity-packed Dragon Festival weekend on June 20 & 21, which follows on from the popular and historic location’s successful Ring Quest and acclaimed Big Brecks Fest, which combined, entertained and helped introduce more than 2,500 visitors to West Suffolk Heritage.

Mayor Patrick Chung, who recently visited King Edward VI School to see the final touches being added to a new 16m long Chinese Dragon - which will be paraded through the town centre on June 17 - has welcomed the dragon celebrations. 
The dragon has been handmade by children, aged 4 - 14, from 12 schools within the Bury Schools Partnership. It will also appear at the Dragon Festival weekend and later at an exhibition at The Apex, Bury St Edmunds, in July, where the dragon-making workshops were held.

More than 600 children have taken part in the project.

Said Mayor Patrick Chung: ““Dragon Festival is superb event for the town in which the community has already been very much involved. It is wonderful to see so many people having so much fun to help stage our first dragon celebrations."

West Stow has a long association with the myths and legends surrounding dragons, or Wyrms, as the Anglo-Saxons called them, with the mythical creature present in many forms of Anglo-Saxon culture and art.

A festival display cabinet will include many of these artefacts such as metal work found at Icklingham, which inspired the event, along with extracts from the oldest surviving Old English poem, Beowulf, and new items such as handcrafted dragons teeth and claws by local artist Jerry Paris, which form the basis of a fantasy dragon storytelling project called: What If Dragons Had Really Existed.

Visitors can also learn how to defend their village from a dragon attack and also how to put of a fire should one of the creatures set their local shop, or home, alight.

Dragon Festival however is designed to celebrate dragon folklore, legends and myths, the world over and help explain their relationship to dinosaurs, reptiles and even sightings of meteorites, upon which some say the legends are founded.

Said Lance Alexander, St Edmundsbury Borough Council Heritage Operations Manager: “Throughout history and in every culture, dragons have captured our imagination.

“Dragons can be fearsome, powerful, protective, magical or wise - and are almost always, invincible. Some are winged, fire-breathing creatures which live in caves, steal away damsels and fight with knights, others are powerful protectors of nature and bringers of good fortune, which can hide away inside raindrops, or reside in the centre of the earth.

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