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Doubling the Discoveries as festival expands

to a fortnight

Doubling the Discoveries as festival expands to a fortnight

AFTER 13 years, Derbyshire’s largest heritage festival is expanding to fill two weeks and three weekends in October – with lots of new activities to try, including a ride on a stagecoach.

The Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site Discovery Days Festival runs from Saturday 14 to Sunday 29 October, with over 160 activities planned. Many events are brand new for the festival, so even regulars will find activities they’ve never tried before.

Discovery Days celebrate the diversity and importance of the Derwent Valley Mills – the only World Heritage Site in the East Midlands, where the factory system was born. The festival’s popularity, and the enthusiasm of the volunteers who deliver activities, have grown and grown. Over 22,000 people from all over the UK turned out for events last year. The 48-page programme booklet for 2017 is now out, with details on everything the fortnight has to offer.

“This year’s festival is the most impressive one yet, with lots of new activities on offer, many provided by our hard-working and committed volunteers. We’re hoping all their efforts will pay off and there’ll be plenty of visitors joining us in celebrating this remarkable valley,” said Councillor Barry Lewis, who chairs the World Heritage Site Steering Group.

Events kick off on October 14 and 15 with a weekend focused on Belper. To celebrate the bi-centenary of the Act of Parliament to build the A6 road which runs for 15 miles through the World Heritage Site, one theme for the weekend is transport. There’s a transport exhibition in the No.28 Community Hall on the Market Place, and the return of the Tantivy Stagecoach, offering a ride along the A6 between Belper and Cromford as it did in the 1890s.

The middle weekend of October 21 and 22 is centred on Derby and Darley Abbey, with buildings opening in Derby’s Cathedral Quarter and at lots of activities in Darley Abbey. The Sunday will also see the first behind-the-scenes tours of Derbyshire’s first full scale craft whisky distillery, in Ambergate.

Midweek events throughout the fortnight include a series of talks, walks and family workshops. The second Friday sees Keith Kendrick, Sylvia Needham and Belper’s Pete Castle performing in the wharf café at Cromford, so people can enjoy a meal or drink during a great evening of folk music.

The final two days, October 28 and 29, will see lots of activities around the Cromford area, including the ever-popular Birdswood narrowboat giving horse-drawn trips along the Cromford Canal, and vintage vehicles on show in Holloway as part of a wider celebration in the village.

To see what’s on during the festival, visit The booklet explaining all the events planned for the Discovery Days Festival is now available locally. Alternatively contact the booking line on 01629 536831 during office hours or email

Read more about the Tantivy Coach here.

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