Goth festival proves a big hit

John Haughton and Carol Tasker from Whitby at Goth Weekend. Picture: Gary Simpson
John Haughton and Carol Tasker from Whitby at Goth Weekend. Picture: Gary Simpson

Thousands of visitors descended on Whitby as the town went back to black to celebrate the 20th anniversary of one of the biggest events in its calendar.

The now bi-annual Whitby Goth Weekend began as a meeting of pen pals in the Elsinore pub in 1994 but has grown into an iconic festival which attracts interest from all over the country and overseas.

The town was rammed with people packed in among the ancient cobbled streets, climbing the 199 Steps and posing for pictures showing off outfits which ranged from traditional Victorian attire to extreme steam punk.

Festival-goers basked in glorious autumn sunshine and at times literally brought Whitby to a standstill with local police being despatched to the swing bridge to deal with cars versus pedestrians on Saturday afternoon.

1980s chart toppers Heaven 17, Visage and The Stranglers frontman Hugh Cornwell were the headline attractions at Whitby Pavilion, while events also took place at venues across the town including Raw Nightclub, The Met and The Brunswick Centre.

Hotels, guesthouses, shops, pubs and restaurants have reported a bumper weekend’s trading, while stalwarts of the festival have spoken of this weekend’s festivities as being among the best-attended in the event’s history.

Leeds-based Richard Dove, who attended the very first Whitby Goth Weekend, said: “The town seemed busier than in previous years.

“There is a huge difference between how the weekend is now and when it first began with 250 goths heading to the seaside not sure what to expect.

“The highlights this time were Bunker 13 in Raw Nightclub on Friday and the charity football match.”

John ‘Pablo’ Thompson, manager of goth football team Real Gothic FC, added: “It has been an intense yet wonderful weekend with Whitby as full as I’ve ever seen it.

“Dancing to Hugh Cornwell performing ‘Peaches’ in the Pavilion was a really special moment for me.”

DJ Armand from Colchester said that being re-united with friends from all over the country is the best part of the weekend.

“You can keep in touch on social media, but it’s not the same as seeing people face to face. Spending time with my friends here is always the highlight.”

Ted Govostis of London expressed similar sentiments.

“People come from all over the UK to be here and enjoy the event together and that is the best thing about Whitby Goth Weekend,” he added.

Next year, to celebrate the festival’s 21st birthday, a special four-night event will be held at Whitby Pavilion between April 23 and 26.