History of the Festival

Fun. Friendship. Community.

In February 2004, at a Parochial Church Council meeting, there was a discussion about how to celebrate St. James' weekend. The idea of a scarecrow week arose, but perhaps these would be too scary for young children. Sue Gent proposed teddy bears abseiling from the Tower of St James. The idea spiralled and the Teddy Bear trail was born. The first teddy bear week had an art exhibition with preview evening, a car rally and 47 bears along teddy bear trail. Fellow council member Mike May remarked, "What a lovely idea! Teddy bears are a sign of comfort and friendship!". 

The Festival has grown into a fun-filled fortnight celebrating community spirit in the South Norfolk village of Great Ellingham (view on map ) centered around the Teddy Bear Trail. Village neighbours display teddy bears made from straw, and assorted other materials, in their gardens using their creativity to plan, design and construct unique exhibits.

Anticipation builds as bears start to appear one-by-one in front gardens the Friday prior to opening day. Who will be the People's Choice and what will be the children's pick? Bears have ranged from sportsmen to musicians, children's story characters and from royalty to politicians. There have even been a few dragons, snakes and unicorns along the trail.

Although the festival raises a considerable amount for good causes, we pride ourselves on helping to run an event which allows us to celebrate village life. 

Raising money is a great thing for the charities but our main objective is the community spirit we work with and build upon. The sound of children’s laughter on the streets is lovely.
— Pete Clayton - former committee chair