We spent an hour at the Rochester Sweeps Festival 2022 and this should be on your list of things to do in Kent – Sam Honey

Few occasions are also expected in the Rochester calendar as the Sweeps Festival. Spread over three days, the popular celebration brings together visitors from across the county for a festival brimming with music, dance, food and drink in a truly unforgettable experience.

Some may ignore what the Sweeps Festival actually is , and what the celebrations are for. The event is a celebration of the arrival of spring, and since May Day was the traditional Chimney Sweeps Day, the two occasions have been combined into one wonderful festival for all to enjoy.

Like a Medway resident myself, this is not my first sweep and it certainly won’t be my last. Like I said, it’s one of the most anticipated events of the entire year, and for very good reason. As soon as you are close to the area, you can hear the sounds of the festival, the rumble of the drums, the laughter and chatter of the crowd underlined by a variety of music.

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Once you’re on the main street itself, you’re treated to a range of delicious smells from the various food stalls and vendors to be found, with something on offer for every dietary taste. My sweet tooth led me to the donut stand very quickly, because what daytime festival would be complete without a hot, fresh donut.

Tradition Morris dancing is one of the most iconic aspects of the festival

Over the hour I got to see a range of different impressive dance performances from the countless performers including the iconic Morris dancers who really define the festival as a whole. I really felt spoiled for choice in terms of things to see and do, it seemed like with every step I was greeted by an exciting new display or booth that immediately caught my eye.

There was a range of dance acts to enjoy
There was a range of dance acts to enjoy

The music is also central to the whole event, and even just during the slice of the festival that I saw, I got to see and hear a number of very talented musicians who really made the experience that much better. Alongside this there is a range of stalls that also caught my eye, with the option to buy anything from music and records to home furnishings.

I couldn’t believe how busy the event turned out this year, with the High Street brimming with people, and every shop, restaurant and pub receiving lots of love from guests. East Rochester well known for its quirky independent ventures so events like this are always a great opportunity for new hosts to the area to see exactly what the city has to offer.

This was one of the busiest sweeping festivals I have ever seen
This was one of the busiest sweeping festivals I have ever seen

The iconic Rochester Castle also played an important role in the festivities. On a trip to the castle grounds, I encountered a large funfair and a main stage for music. The whole area was also surrounded by an array of food trucks and vendors which all looked and smelled delicious, safe to say my stomach was rumbling at this point.

I can safely say that I had an amazing experience during my visit to the festival, even for just one hour I was able to admire and see a lot of this wonderful event. With a stomach full of donuts and a feeling of local pride well and truly rekindled, I left very happy.

The historic castle park was alive with music and celebrations
The historic castle park was alive with music and celebrations

It truly felt like the busiest Sweeps I’ve ever been on, and it was fantastic to see the community come together to celebrate after a tough few years for many. I’ve been to a number of these festivals now and it really seems like every year is better than the last so I highly recommend anyone who missed this year to make sure you keep the date clear for the next one – a day of music, dancing, food and drink are simply unbeatable.

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