Thousands flock to historic Hawick for 17th Reivers Festival

Kayla Hamilton, Laura Carr and Carly Hamilton
Kayla Hamilton, Laura Carr and Carly Hamilton

From grizzly ghost stories to bloody battles and a record-breaking torchlight parade, there was something for everyone at this year’s Hawick Reivers Festival.

The clock wound back some 600 years on Friday with the town staying in the midst of the time of the Border Reivers until Sunday.

Pupils from Drumlanrig, Wilton and Burnfoot took part in the Reivers parade

Pupils from Drumlanrig, Wilton and Burnfoot took part in the Reivers parade

Thousands of locals and visitors alike, including a 60-strong contingent attending from Northern Ireland, enjoyed a glimpse into what life was like in 16th century Borderlands through music, drama and reenactments.

A Reivers encampment with musket drills and hand to hand skirmishes at the Wee Haugh transported families back to the 300-year period when the English-Scottish Border was a lawless frontier of cattle rustling, feuding, murder, arson and pillaging. Experts were on hand to talk genealogy and the evenings were lit up with hundreds of flaming torches and fireworks.

Festival chairwoman Cath Elliott said: “This was the 17th Hawick Reivers Festival and the organising committee is delighted with how it went. We have already had people getting in touch to enquire when next year’s festival will be held.

“We seemed to have a very busy town. The weather was kind to us, we had a beautiful night for the torch light parade and fireworks display, with 1200 people in the parade.

Les Amis d'Onno Horse stunt team, led the Reivers parade onto the high Street

Les Amis d'Onno Horse stunt team, led the Reivers parade onto the high Street

“The Ulster Scots are really keen to forge a link with the Border Reivers family in Northern Ireland and we had 60 plus people over from Northern Ireland for the festival.

“The children’s games were really well attended and the Irish children took part too.

“Another big highlight was the schools’ projects on banner making. The six primary schools worked with final year design students from Heriot Watt on banner making. We ended up with six beautiful banners which will hopefully be used next year too, and we’re looking for somewhere in the town to display them throughout the year in the meantime.”

Thanking everyone who contributed to this year’s festival, Ms Elliot said it was a real community effort.

Hawick’s honorary provost Watson McAteer added: “Hawick Reivers Festival is going from strength to strength and this year, its 17th year in existence, has been the most successful yet.

“Hawick is very fortunate to have volunteers who commit so much time and energy to make an event that celebrates our unique history such a fantastic attraction for locals and the many visitors.

“As honorary provost of Hawick I had great pleasure in welcoming the visitors to our town and I commend those that supported the many stalls and provided entertainment that assured our guests of an experience never to be forgotten.

“This has become an event not to be missed and I hope that we can continue to provide the help and support needed to guarantee its future.”