Coventry Godiva Festival history

A shot of the crowds at Godiva taken from the stage

Steeped in rich tradition the Godiva Festival continues to amaze audiences.

Since 1998 the festival has been held in War Memorial Park, Coventry, although the beginnings were planted as far back as 1190 when monks cast from Coventry Priory told the story of their benefactress, Lady Godiva.

The first recorded Godiva Procession, originally known as the Great Fair, took place on 31 May 1678 and has undergone many variations through the centuries. In some years, over 200,000 spectators have lined the streets of Coventry to witnesses the mass of colour.

To build on the success of the ancient Godiva Procession, during the late nineties an initial four year plan was put in place to create a free festival of entertainment as an extension of traditional celebrations. In 1997 a day long event took place in the city and in 1998 the three day Godiva Festival was born.

Spanning over the course of a weekend, over the last fifteen years the event has grown from strength to strength, and currently is viewed by many as the UK's biggest and best FREE family festival and attracts over 80,000 visitors each year 

Over the years the Godiva Festival has attracted some of the biggest rock, pop, hip hop and acoustic artists to its stages, ensuring the event is firmly embedded in the summer music festival season. Established artists such as Craig David, The Human League, The Enemy, Ash, Supergrass, Fun Lovin Criminals, Sister Sledge, Go West, ABC, The Christians, Kano, Sophie Ellis - Bextor,  Kid Creole & the Coconuts, Hazel O'Connor, The Primitives, Badly Drawn Boy, The Fratellis, Kasabian Maximo Park, The Darkness and the Happy Mondays are among just some of the names that have wowed the crowds.

As well as attracting household names, the Godiva festival also continues to support local music and upcoming artists. Over the weekend there is an intimate "Micro-acoustic stages". Smaller and more laid back, this stage allow unknown acoustic artists who are just starting to cut their teeth on the local music scene the chance to get their voices heard by a whole new audience. Many of the acts that have appeared on this stages in previous years have gone on to play the larger stages and tents at subsequent festivals.

In the build up to the festival each year, the organisers also run the eagerly anticipated "Godiva Calling" competition. Heats take place across several venues in the city in the spring months and the winners of each heat, voted for by the live audiences that attend and an impartial panel of judges, go forward to the Godiva Calling Final, which takes place in the "Rhythm Tent" on the opening Friday night of the festival.

The overall winner then has the distinction and honour of opening up the proceedings on the Godiva Main Stage on Saturday afternoon in front of a crowd of thousands.

With live music covering all genres, history and conservation tents, family activities, a fun fair and so much more besides spread over Coventry's glorious War Memorial Park for three fabulous days, it's easy to see why the Godiva Festival continues to attract thousands of visitors through the gates year after year, placing it rightly at the pinnacle of Coventry's event calendar.