A brand new festival, celebrating St Albans’ Roman heritage, will take place in the city from Friday 21 – Sunday 30 June. Organised by St Albans Cathedral and funded by the Lottery Heritage Fund, the 10 day festival will feature events fit for the whole family – providing the opportunity to celebrate the city in which Britain’s first saint, Alban, lived with all the amazing things it has to offer today.

The Roman Festival kicks off with two brilliant events on 22 June. The Alban Pilgrimage, a magnificent procession organised by St Albans Cathedral to celebrate the city’s namesake, takes place from 11am. Accompanied by people of all ages dressed as Roman soldiers, lions, angels and more, 12ft tall carnival puppets representing the key figures from the story of Alban will take to the streets to reenact the historic events which led to his execution.

From 12pm, ‘Alban Fest’ will take place on the Abbey Orchard in Verulamium Park – an afternoon of Roman themed fun. Live Roman military battles by the Ermine Street Guard, medieval pilgrim badge demonstrations, clay sculpting and music from the Maida Vales are just some of the special activities taking place. There will also be festival glitter and face painting and plenty of other crafts, games, food and music to keep all ages entertained.

Local businesses and venues are also involved in the Roman Festival, making it a community, city-wide event, including, but not limited to, the Alban Street Festival, St Albans Film Festival, St Albans Folk Festival, St Albans Museums, Ye Olde Fighting Cocks, the Roman Theatre of Verulamium, the Clock Tower and the Odyssey Cinema. Activities include Roman themed film screenings and performances, food fit for a Roman army, fascinating talks and tours about St Albans’ Roman past and, last but not least, Toga Yoga on the Abbey Orchard. 

The Dean of St Albans said: “The city of St Albans is steeped in over 1700 years of heritage, which includes the story of its namesake, Alban, a citizen of Roman Verulamium and Britain’s first saint. We are looking forward to welcoming people to celebrate our remarkable history.”

Katie Foweraker, Community Engagement Officer at St Albans City and District Council said:  “We are really pleased to be working closely with the Cathedral on this year’s expanded Alban Festival.  Our Alban Street Festival on the Sunday is part of it, with a large Roman themed area this year, including an authentic Roman market and Roman mosaic and pottery workshops.  The Alban Weekend is always extremely popular with thousands of local people and visitors coming in to the city to be part of it all.  It’s a real highlight in the St Albans summer calendar, and not to be missed.”

Matt Bigg, organiser of the St Albans Film Festival said: “We are really excited to be partnering with St Albans Cathedral’s Roman Festival and screening Gladiator on the Big Screen. The festival will be a wonderful opportunity to bring the city of St Albans together to celebrate its heritage.”

For more information and the full programme of events, please visit www.stalbanscathedral.org

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Notes for editors

Alban, Britain’s First Saint – Lottery Heritage Fund funded project

  • The Roman Festival is part of a new programme of events and activities which will take place throughout the project and beyond to attract new audiences to St Albans Cathedral.
  • The project is funded by the Lottery Heritage Fund, with match funding from over 1000 individuals and organisations.
  • The Cathedral is opening a new welcome centre, and creating a new centre for schoolchildren, a new exhibition area, and a new adult study centre and library as part of the project.
  • 22 June, St Alban’s Day, marks the opening of the new welcome centre and exhibition area.
  • Further developments will take place over the next two years, including illuminating the rare collection of medieval wall paintings in the Nave of the Cathedral and rebuilding the ruined medieval shrine of St Amphibalus.
  • Keep up to date with key developments on the project’s blog: https://albanbritainsfirstsaint.wordpress.com/

St Albans Cathedral

  • St Albans Cathedral is built on the site of the martyrdom of Alban, Britain’s first saint.
  • St Alban was an anglo-romano citizen who was executed around 300 AD.
  • It is the oldest site of continuous Christian worship in Britain.
  • It houses the Shrines of St Alban and St Amphibalus, and is a major site of Christian worship to this day.
  • In August 1213, St Albans Abbey was the venue for the very first meeting between barons and clergy to discuss their grievances against King John. This historic meeting ultimately led to the articles that became Magna Carta, sealed at Runnymede two years later.
  • St Albans Cathedral is the mother church of the Diocese of St Albans which serves the people of Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, the Borough of Luton and parts of the London Borough of Barnet, Cambridgeshire and Buckinghamshire.