THE golden days of Empire return in all their glory this weekend as Ilfracombe Victorian Celebrations kicks off on Saturday, June 6 with a week of nostalgic fun. The crinoline clad ladies, suffragettes, bathing belles, parades and parties and much more ar

THE golden days of Empire return in all their glory this weekend as Ilfracombe Victorian Celebrations kicks off on Saturday, June 6 with a week of nostalgic fun.The crinoline clad ladies, suffragettes, bathing belles, parades and parties and much more are back to entertain, beginning on Saturday with a grand parade along the High Street at 1.45pm. Folk dressed in the heyday of the Empire, horse drawn carriages, riders, miniature horses and Queen Victoria herself will be joined by local youth marching bands as they make their way from the Candar at the top of the High Street to the Trinity Fair at the Vicarage Gardens in St Brannocks Road.The fair opens at 2pm and will feature traditional cream teas, sideshows, stall amusements and bargains. Sunday, June 7 sees the crowning of the Victorian Prince and Princess at 2pm at the Landmark Pavilion, for children aged seven to 12 years, followed by promenading along the seafront, music and a picnic.Highlights for the rest of the week include a Teddy Bears' Picnic on Monday, June 8 at 12 noon by the Landmark, followed at 2.30pm by the opportunity to meet Mr Dickens and His Characters as they are brought to life.At 1pm on Tuesday, June 9 enjoy Natters with Naturalists, Darwin, and the Dodo at the Landmark Pavilion and at 2pm Exmoor Zoo near Bratton Fleming features the Desperate Men Theatre Group. Both events offer an informative, imaginative and amusing insight into Charles Darwin and his work. Free entry to the zoo for anyone wearing Victorian costume during the week.Join the Pearlies on Tuesday evening from 7.30pm at the Wheel on Ilfracombe seafront to roll out a barrel of fun.The best undressed Victorian Bathing Belles and Beaus will be taking the plunge at the harbour beach on Wednesday, June 10 at 11.30am before parading to the Landmark Pavilion for judging.Later, the Mayor extends a cordial invitation to his Garden party at Runnymede Gardens from 2.30pm for a congenial afternoon. At 6.30pm meet at the Candar for a ghost walk, a spirited but not strenuous stroll around some of the town's haunted places. Open to all.The liberated ladies of the Suffragettes movement have decided to suffer no more, as they take to the streets to demand the vote from 12 noon on Thursday, June 11, making their way to the seafront and randomly "assaulting" men on the way!A Victorian Mock Court takes place at the Lantern Centre in the High Street from 8pm that evening.On Friday, June 12 at 8pm a Grand Masked Ceilidh in honour of Mr Charles Darwin. Wear a suitable mask - or beard - to celebrate this great Victorian icon while dancing to the Oggle. Advance booking recommended. On Saturday, June 13 at 2.30pm there is a Victorian Fayre and Hog Roast in Runnymede Gardens. Later at 7.45pm the Orchestra of Welsh National Opera will be at the Landmark Theatre. Tickets £19.50 from (01271) 324242.At 9pm the popular Candlelit Procession leaves the harbour and parade to the Landmark Green. Bring your own lanterns to light your way. Everyone welcome.At 10.15pm there is a grand firework display to music set against the backdrop of Capstone Hill, viewing from outside the Landmark Theatre and the seafront, together with the musicality and expertise of Two Tigers Fireworks, supported by Ilfracombe Town Council and the North Devon Festival.Finally on Sunday, June 14, the celebrations draw to a close for another year, with a final pageant and parade to the pier at 3pm, assembling in Wilder Road car park at 2.30pm. It features Queen Victoria, the Prince and Princess, Leicester South Salvation Army Band, horses and carriages, organ Grinders, miniature horses, the Bideford Youth Pipe Band and plenty of costumed walkers. All are invited to join in this final, spectacular parade.At 8pm the last word with Victorian Songs of Praise at Emmanuel Church in Wilder Road with the Bideford Town Band.Visit www.ilfvc.org.uk for a full programme listing and more information.