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• ‘With Banners Held High’ festival, a revival of the Yorkshire Miners Gala, returns to the streets of city after three years – Saturday 14 May
• Event will see Yorkshire’s biggest trade union banner march descend on Wakefield after COVID hiatus
• Event began in 2015 to mark last deep coal mines in Yorkshire, but has grown into cultural festival in its own right
• Banner march assembles at 10.45, setting off at 11.30

Historic painted banners from across the trade union movement will be displayed in Wakefield city centre to accompany a trade union march on Saturday 14 May, as the With Banners Held High festival returns to the city for the first time since the pandemic. 

These rare examples of working class art and culture, many of which are considered priceless due to their craftmanship and historic cultural importance, are seldom today seen today by the public.

Festival to focus on climate future as well as coal past

Banners from the National Union of Mineworkers, as well as examples from across the movement, will be carried in a revival of trade union galas of the past, but with a modern twist. As well as memorialising coal mining, trade unions are gathering to focus on climate change, and the role of workers in the climate emergency. 

The theme of this year’s festival is ‘The Past We Inherit: A Green Future We Build’ and the festival features a series of educational workshops about how local people can take action to fight climate change. 

Culture at the heart of the event 

Brass and samba bands will march as part of the banner procession, evoking the Yorkshire Miners’ Gala of years past, but also celebrating the culture of local communities. The festival main stage will feature music and poetry, and will be compered by local poet Ian Clayton. 

The festival originated in 2015 as local communities faced the impending closure of the last deep coal mines in the UK, located in North and South Yorkshire, as well as the 30th anniversary of the end of the miners’ strike. But the focus of this year’s festival is on the future of our communities and climate, as the government fails to take action on the climate emergency. 

Open to all 

The festival march is open for all to participate in, and local campaigns are invited to bring their banners and flags to join in this celebration of community activism. 


  • The Main event gathers at 10.45 on Saturday May 14th at Smyth Street near Westgate Station, to March with the Unite and RMT Brass Bands, march starting at 11.30. 
  • On arrival at Wood Street, the main stage will be compered by Ian Clayton, with Chris Kitchen, National Sec of the NUM starting proceedings.  We have a fabulous line-up of speakers: Sarah Woolley, Gen Sec of the Bakers Union; Daz Proctor, National Shipping Secretary of the RMT; Vicky Blake, President of the UCU; Jim Mowatt, Director of Education, Unite the Union;  Asad Rehman, Director of War on Want; Suzanne Jeffrey Chair of the Campaign against Climate Change Trade Union Group and Keith Venables of Health Campaigns Together.   
  • Fringe events and stalls with information from local campaigns will be available throughout the day 
Editors note

- Photo and video journalists are welcome to film the banner march. Banners assemble on Saturday 14 May at 10.45am, with the march beginning 11.30am

- The festival is volunteer run, but supported by the TUC 

- The Trades Union Congress (TUC) exists to make the working world a better place for everyone. We bring together the 5.5 million working people who make up our 48 member unions. We support unions to grow and thrive, and we stand up for everyone who works for a living.  


Catherine Porritt
07758 402668 

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