Saturnalia Parade comes to Chester

Roman Army heads to Chester for festive fun

Soldiers from the Deva Victrix 20th Legion will be taking back control of the city of Chester on Thursday 14th December.

Chester will return to Roman rule for one night only, as Chester Roman Tours holds its annual Saturnalia celebration.

The Saturnalia parade will leave the Grosvenor Museum at 6.30pm. After arriving in Eastgate Street the Emperor Domitian will address his subjects before releasing the ‘Lord of Misrule’.


“Let none of you be mistaken, the Romans are still here, at certain times of the year you will see us marching once more through our fortress.

“Remember who and what I am. I am a sword that sings in the dark. I am the sound of a legion marching to war. I am the axe that thuds into your scull.

“I am accuser, judge and executioner. I am Imperator. I am a living God. I am Caesar. I am Rome”


Cllr Louise Gittins, CWAC cabinet member for communities and wellbeing, said: “Lo Saturnalia, the sight of flaming torches through the city centre is a spectacle not to miss.

“Thanks to Paul Harston and his Roman Tours who are brilliant ambassadors for the city wherever they go.”

Adding to the spectacle, the Winter Watch Parade will be sharing the stage, joining with the Romans as they reach the Christmas Market in Town Hall Square (read more, here).

The Winter Watch will make its way around the city centre with City Watch Men, Angels, Devils, Fire Skeletons, Dragons and Cooks with their Victorian Christmas Dinner.

“I’d like to wish a Happy Christmas and Prosperous New Year to all our residents and the many visitors who have enjoyed this year’s Christmas events and activities across the borough,” added Cllr Gittins.

Saturnalia was the feast at which the Romans commemorated the dedication of the temple of the god Saturn.

It was originally celebrated in Ancient Rome for only one day on 17th December but it was so popular that it extended to a week, from the 17th to 23rd December, despite Emperor Augustus' efforts to reduce it to three days, and Emperor Caligula’s attempts to shrink it to five.

Saturnalia became one of the most popular Roman festivals. It was marked by tomfoolery and reversal of roles, with slaves and masters switching places.

Clothing was relaxed and included the peaked woollen cap that symbolised the freed slave.

A member of the familia (family plus slaves) was appointed Saturnalicius princeps, roughly tranlsated as ‘Lord of Misrule’.

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