Pendleside Hospice claims new world record for largest gathering of fancy dress witches

The world record for ‘having the largest gathering of people dressed as witches’ was claimed in its spiritual home of Pendle.

Some 1,882 ‘witches’ were counted at the Pendleside Hospice Witch Festival held at Barrowford Park in the shadow of Pendle Hill where the country’s most famous witches were arrested and later hanged for witchcraft in 1612.

Emmerdale star Samantha Giles – who plays Bernice Blackstock in the ITV soap – herself a follower of Wicca beliefs, was the first to be counted along with her husband Sean and daughters Eve and Olivia.

Children’s author Samantha, whose first book was ‘Rosemary and the Witches Of Pendle’ said: “It’s just wonderful that the world record should return to Pendle. It is its rightful home. I’m amazed how many people turned out for this momentous moment.”

The previous record of 1,607 was held by La Bruixa d’Or, in Sort, Lleida, Spain. It doubled Pendleside’s original record set in 2012.

Helen McVey, Pendleside chief executive, said: “While the Guinness Book Of Records has to verify and ratify our new record we are delighted at our attempt and also that we raised tens of thousands of pounds to help fund the care we give to hundreds of patients a year.”

Around 3,000 people attended the festival which saw performances from Barrowford Community Choir, Voices Of Yorkshire Choir, Lucas Watt, Callum Spencer, the Forever Steel Band, Elvis impersonator Andy Brown, Tom Scothern Duo, Scarlett, Basically Cheers and Fitness, Empower HQ, and retro DJs Paul Taylor and Matty Robinson.

There was a two-minute silence before the count for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and a special marquee where visitors could sign a book of condolence.

A total of 400 people, most dressed as witches, took part in a sponsored walk in the morning from Barrowford to Barley and Roughlee and back.