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History of the Sheffield City Giants

The Sheffield City Giants were presented to the Lord Mayor of Sheffield, who accepted them on behalf of the City on 4th July 1992. They had been created by the Catalan Giant maker, Jordi Grau (honoured in the dance Jordi's) under commission from the Sheffield Festival to produce a pair of giants according to the theme of the festival 'Life and Death'. It was, however, contrary to Catalan custom to represent Death and with this in mind, the theme was altered to 'War and Peace'.

The hands and bodies were brought from Catalunya; the heads, manufactured from a material called cartró pedra - a kind of industrial grade papier maché - were made
over a two week period in what had been British Rail's Permanent Way Department workshops near Woodburn Bridge, Sheffield.

During the presentation of the Giants, the moulds of the Giants' heads were broken with a sledgehammer on the steps of the Town Hall. The Sheffield City Morris Men were designated the official Custodians of the Giants, a role they still have.

On the right are the original designs for the Giants' costumes. For transportation purposes, these have been simplified over the years and Peace lost her 'wedding dress' for the millennium.

The Giants danced in the Lord Mayor's parade for the first time in 1993, supported by the 'Geganters de Manresa' who had hosted Sheffield City Morris the previous year and were paying a return visit. The Giants went to Catalunya in 1995 as principal guests at the 'Festa Major' in Manresa. The Giants continued to participate regularly in the annual Lord Mayor's parade throughout the 90s, as well as attending a number of festivals in Britain celebrating folk arts - Selby, Hastings' Jack in the Green Festival, for example, culminating in an appearance at the 'Sidmouth International Folk Festival'. Sidmouth was the principal international folk arts event in Britain at the time, involving us in parades, a performance on the main stage and the torchlight procession through the town.

Since 1998, the Giants have been resident at the Kelham Island Museum where the group of porters, musicians and catchers meets to practise on the first Sunday of each month. New members are always welcome. Get in touch via the Contact page.

The giants have been even more active and high profile (no pun intended!!) in the new millennium than they were in the old one and the international nature of our performances has grown. The Giants celebrated their 10th and 12th birthdays with major events in the City of Sheffield and were also seen at major festivals, including a return to Hastings' Jack in the Green, Towersey Village Festival in Oxfordshire in 2002 and a second appearance at the 50th Sidmouth festival in 2004.

War dancing with the giant Jehan from Estaires, France, during a procession in Steenvoorde.

In 2003 we took part in the Festa Catalunya in Manchester, organised by Manchester City Council in association with the regional government of Catalunya, involving giants, musicians and dancers from that region.

2004 also saw the Giants make an appearance in Riudoms, Catalunya and in 2006 we were part of the Quatrième Ronde de Géants Portés in Steenvoorde, France. This was an international event, involving 100 giants from all over the world and attracting over 40,000 visitors. As well as two lengthy processions, the weekend included a short performance by the Sheffield City Giants' band, during a Saturday night concert, in front of an audience of 2,000 in the main marquee.

2007 saw us just as busy, the highlight being our part in the Lord Mayor of Sheffield's St George's Day celebrations and Civic reception. The Lord Mayor at the time, Jackie Drayton, herself a folk dancer, contributed to the performance by folk dance groups in the Town Hall FoyerThe event.was also attended by a number of local dignitaries

Dancing the Giants in the Town Hall Foyer was a momentous occasion. We were particularly proud to have displayed Peace to the people of Sheffield  in the Town Hall Foyer during the previous week.

Our dearest wish is that the City of Sheffield will acknowledge that the Sheffield City Giants belong to Sheffield and should be given the
recognition and respect of the City.

Peace renews her acquaintance with
Steenvoorde's giant Fromulus in Quebec

Following a contact made at Steenvoorde with Le Grand Esprit from Quebec, the Sheffield City Giants were invited to participate in La Grande Rencontre des Géants à Québec, part of the celebrations for the 400th anniversary of the founding of Quebec City in 2008.  This was a massive undertaking which involved carefully packing the Giants for the trip, first to Antwerp and then to Canada. In Antwerp, they assembled with the other invited European Giants before crossing the Atlantic by ship.

The event was very successful and we made many friends.